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Students Remain Reluctant to Try E-Textbooks, Survey Finds

The vast majority of students say they prefer print textbooks over electronic ones, and attitudes have not shifted markedly in the past year, according to the results of a survey by the National Association of College Stores.

The survey, set to be released tomorrow, found that 76 percent of students would pick a printed book over an e-textbook if the choice was left entirely up to them. That’s the exact same proportion as in the previous year’s survey.

The association surveyed 627 students at campuses across the United States this month. About 13 percent of the students said they had purchased an e-book in the past three months, and most of those said they did so because a digital edition was required by their professor.

“We’re still seeing a low penetration,” said Elizabeth Riddle, consumer-research manager for the association. “Some students are still uncomfortable with the technology and fear that they might lose something,” she said.

The survey found that only 8 percent of college students surveyed own an e-reader device such as a Kindle or Sony Reader. The most popular device listed for electronic reading was the iPhone.

The association still expects e-textbooks to take off in the near future, once more professors and students grow comfortable with the format. “We definitely are expecting an increase—of probably 10 to 15 percent by 2012,” said Ms. Riddle.

A few colleges are now arguing that colleges should push a switch to e-textbooks to save students money and help change the business model for textbooks.

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