“In a trend occurring in multiple colleges across the country, students are saying ‘no’ to eBooks, due poor ease-of-use, limited funds for eReaders, and lack of available resources.”

eTexts are not in the best interest of big publishers.  The hit they would take from digital piracy could be devastating.   As a result, their products aren’t as user friendly as they could be, the DRM hurdles are too high and there is no significant cost saving for the students.  Various studies have found cost and ease of use to be the main factors when students are given a choice of media.

As a consequence, in my opinion, any article commenting on eTexts and acceptance that only refers to products from big publishers can be discounted without further thought.

The real issue whether the inconvenience associated eTexts is still a significant barrier when the product is free and freely accessible, compared to publishers texts.  I suspect the answer is so obvious that people can’t get research approval to study it.

There is quite a bit of research around  showing that students often prefer cheap printed texts to free online versions, although I can’t find any mention of what the threshold price may be.  A free etext coupled with a cheap ‘print on demand’ deal from your university could be a win-win.

Also of interest is this research from Heather Ruetschlin Schugar, associate professor at West Chester University.

“Schugars reported the results of a study in which they asked middle school students to read either traditional printed books, or e-books on iPads. The students’ reading comprehension, the researchers found, was higher when they read conventional books. In a second study looking at students’ use of e-books created with Apple’s iBooks Author software, the Schugars discovered that the young readers often skipped over the text altogether, engaging instead with the books’ interactive visual features.”

This only refers to primary school kids and the products for this market tend to be more like click and reveal games rather than text based books.  The effect doesn’t seem to be as significant in Higher Ed but as we see wider adoption we may get more detail.