Direct Textbook: 72% of College Students Prefer Print Over Ebooks

Despite the prevalence of ebooks and reading devices, college students overwhelmingly prefer print textbooks for studying, according to a survey conducted by Direct Textbook

Sep 01, 2015, 09:17 ET from Direct Textbook

PORTLAND, Ore., Sept. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Seven out of ten college students prefer print textbooks over ebooks, according to a survey conducted by Direct Textbook, the world's most comprehensive textbook price comparison engine.

More than 500 active college students completed the survey, which was emailed to Direct Textbook users. Results include:

  • 72% of college students prefer print textbooks to ebooks
  • 27% prefer ebooks
  • 2% have no preference

Students who prefer print textbooks commonly cited the following reasons:

  • Print textbooks are easier to read
  • They like to physically highlight important passages
  • Print textbooks are cheaper
  • They dislike ebook formatting
  • Ebooks are difficult to navigate and bookmark
  • Reading ebooks makes their eyes hurt
  • Lack of focus and concentration when reading ebooks
  • Print textbooks do not require Internet access
  • They like to write on textbook pages
  • Professors do not allow tablets or laptops in class
  • Limited ebook availability
  • They end up printing ebook pages anyway

Students who prefer ebooks commonly cited the following reasons:

  • Ebooks are cheaper
  • Ebooks are lighter
  • Ebooks don't have to be returned
  • Ebooks are more environmentally-friendly
  • Ebook passages can be quickly found using search
  • Ebook print size and brightness can be adjusted
  • Ebooks can convert text to audio
  • Apps can be used with ebooks

In addition, several respondents said they preferred ebooks for recreational reading but not for academic learning.

Textbook purchasing trends align with the survey results. According to the Student Monitor, 87 percent of textbooks purchased by students in 2014 were print editions (36 percent new, 36 percent used, 15 percent rented). Ebooks comprised only nine percent of the market. The remaining four percent was made up by file sharing.

"Given the ubiquity of ebook-reading devices on college campuses, it's interesting that students prefer print textbooks over ebooks, and that purchasing behavior supports that sentiment," said Morgan MacArthur, Direct Textbook Chief Technology Officer. "What's even more interesting are the differences in perception: both students who preferred textbooks and those who preferred ebooks cited lower prices as a reason.

"Sometimes print textbooks are cheaper, sometimes ebooks are. That's why Direct Textbook finds the lowest prices for both. The average student will spend $5,000 on textbooks to earn a four-year degree, so it's important to compare all options so we can help them save up to 90 percent of that cost."

Since 2002, more than 20 million students and parents have trusted Direct Textbook to help them save up to 90 percent on college textbooks. As the world's most comprehensive textbook price comparison engine, Direct Textbook helps students get the best deals on new, used and alternative textbooks by instantly comparing prices from more than 200 online stores.

For more information, visit

Since 2002, Direct Textbook has helped more than 20 million parents and students find the lowest prices on new, used, rental and ebook textbooks. Direct Textbook can be found online at

Media Contact:
Brian Morris
Communications Coordinator


SOURCE Direct Textbook