eTextbook Trends and Opportunities: What You NEED to Know!

RedShelf's COO, Tom Scotty, and Director of Sales and Marketing, Shannon Godfrey, recently presented on "eTextbook Trends and Opportunities that Meet Student's Expectations" at the Campus Market Expo (CAMEX) in Atlanta, GA.

Are you aware of the current digital trends that are occurring in the marketplace today? If not, let this post serve as a way to bring you up to speed on what the research is saying!

Let’s begin with this statistic: According to the American Association of Publishers, last year, the overall digital marketplace in higher education (which includes both eTextbooks and online learning systems) grew to 7.5%. That is almost a billion dollar business estimated at $937M. Another cool stat: The Executive Director of Higher Education for the AAP indicated that “about 20%” of this overall college course materials market is digital ONLY.

But are students really choosing to purchase digital over print? According to indiCo OnCampus Research of the digital course materials marketplace, if a student purchases or rents at least 1 digital product, they are more likely to make another purchase 1.7 units on average. This statistic indicates that these students are having a good overall initial experience, which directs them to return to digital solutions in the future.

RedShelf’s average units purchased per customer, however, is 2.1 eBooks which is above the average that indiCo found.

Are there students out there that prefer digital over print? Of course! This research also shows that 9% of college students actually prefer digital course materials EXCLUSIVELY. What does this mean? These students are not interested in purchasing print materials. Period.

So why do these students prefer digital exclusively over print? The #1 reason for choosing digital is because of its convenience—its easy access, mobility, and usability make it extremely attractive. But that is not the only perk. A few others are that the content and notes are all in one space, its level of search-ability, and the ability to study anywhere anytime.  

The last final reason: digital tends to have a lower initial cost in comparison to new traditional print textbooks.

But there are a few challenges for eTextbooks that present opportunities for RedShelf! So what are these challenges?
                1. Title Availability: students want to find their desired title in eBook format!
                2. A great reading experience that honors the needs of both teachers and learners: functionality is imperative! Things like marginal note-taking and fast, intuitive navigation is important!

What does this mean for the future of the eText marketplace? Reverting back to indiCO’s Research, while it has been a slow upward digital trend in the marketplace, that growth will soon reach an inflection point and will accelerate quickly. But when will we see this happen? We can expect to see this rapid growth when both the number of students have had a successful digital experience combines with increased title availability for eTexts.