Companies and individuals who have been hoping that digitalâ€ can save the print industry, if it is really in need of saving, have been using the recent iPad release as an opportunity for the growth of digitalized print media. The iPad certainly isn’t the only device that could work well for digital textbooks and the like there are perhaps more suitable devices out there but none the less, the massive attention and consumer recognition that the iPad has garnered has made this a prime time to push this sort of shift toward digital reading.
As it stands, digital textbooks account for only 0.5% of U.S. textbook sales. Xplana, a digital learning platform, has published a study that projects that digital textbook sales will increase from 1% at the end of 2010 and all the way to 18% at the end of 2014. 18% of the textbook market would make digital textbooks a $1 billion market.
Xplana attributes these predictions to the following factors:
- Digital textbook and e-content pricing
- Availability of digital textbook content
- Advances in technology related specifically to digital textbooks
- Intensified focus on integration of textbook/instruction with student outcomes
- Increased growth of online learning
- Rise in open educational resources and their use
Furthermore, they specifically mention the iPad as well as e-readers, and even smartphones as trends that will spur growth in the digital textbook market:
- Success of the iPad and the tablet form factor in general
- Increased sales of netbooks and the success of Chrome OS for netbooks
- Proliferation and continued popularity of e-reader devices and e-reader platforms
- Growth of the smartphone market
As a student myself, I’m looking forward to a time when all of my textbooks are digitally available. Using a tablet PC, and turning in papers electronically when possible, I’ve been able to quite drastically reduce the amount of school materials that need to come with me during my day to day student activities. The school year is almost over, and as a college student, so far I’ve only used just one 1â€ binder, less than 150 sheets of loose-leaf paper, and just two pens (could have probably survived on just one if I didn’t lose the first). That’s a pretty light shopping list for a college student. I don’t even own a printer. When I do need to print, I pay a few cents to print papers on campus. I’ve certainly not printed enough to justify the purchase of an entire printer most of my papers can be turned in electronically. Textbooks are really the only thing that remain.
There are existing options for those looking to get digital textbooks. So far I’ve experimented with CourseSmart, which is a pretty good option, as long as the textbook that you need is available. You save money by purchasing access to the book for a certain period of time, rather than paying hundreds for a book that you’ll only use for one semester. Additionally, CourseSmart has a free iPhone/iPod Touch (and likely soon, iPad) application to access your textbooks.
Though CourseSmart and digital textbooks in general have their perks, there is still much room for improvement. It’s great to have a word-for-word copy of a print textbook available and searchable from any computer that can access the web, but I’ve got a feeling that digital textbooks are going to need to transcend their print counterparts and become more interactive if they are to really sell people on the idea. When 2014 comes around, I guess we’ll find out how accurate Xplana is with their prediction. I, for one, welcome the growth. The day that all of my textbooks for a given semester are available digitally, my backpack will be that much lighter (and hopefully not my wallet).
Hat tip to https://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/digital_textbooks_set_to_capture_almost_20_of_the_market_by_2014.phpfor the heads up on the study.