| 03.18.2018

Bye, buy e-books — ASUI discusses more e-books despite decline in VandalStore e-book sales


Despite the increasing trend toward e-readers such as the Kindle or iPad, the University of Idaho bookstore is seeing a decline in student interest in electronic textbooks.
“Three years ago we had $20,000 dollars worth of electronic textbook sales,” VandalStore Textbook Buyer Kathleen Norris said. “This fall we sold less than $500 worth of e-books.”
Norris said she believes the trend is largely due to the emergence of the textbook rental program. She said both e-books and rentals are comparable in price and both last for the whole semester.
“When you calculate it, the difference is one of dollars. When they both last for the same amount of time I understand why students prefer the real thing,” Norris said. “When you are referencing back and forth between your textbook and homework, it’s easier to look down from your computer screen at an open book than it is to keep switching back and forth with an e-book. I get that.”
Norris also said there is a decline in supply of e-books due to Kindle entering the electronic textbook market.
“We used to go through our wholesaler and software provider Missouri Book Company for e-books, but as they have had to compete with Kindle, and because we can’t buy from Kindle, there has been a definite drop in supply,” Norris said.
Students who are interested in e-books have noticed the drop in supply. ASUI President Hannah Davis took up the issue when a friend asked why he couldn’t get all his books electronically.
After meeting with Andrew Brewick of University Advising Services and Miranda Anderson of the UI Teaching and Advising Committee, Davis said it comes down to the publishers, something Norris confirmed.
“Professors pick the best text they can, and if the publisher offers it electronically, then students can choose that option,” Davis said. “But if the publisher doesn’t offer it electronically, then students are out of luck.”Davis said as a student, she would want the best text available.
She said ASUI Director of Policy, Chris Schrette, conducted research, which indicated students prefer print textbooks.
Davis said the bookstore is always looking for ways to be a more attractive option to students. The bookstore is presenting the issue to the faculty senate at their meeting today.
Andrew Deskins can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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