Kindle Struggles on College Campuses?

College student cap and gown

Here’s another interesting statistic: 74% of college students still prefer printed books over ebooks.

The National Association of College Stores performed a new study through their “OnCampus Research” division, contacting 627 students during the month of October. 87% of them hadn’t purchased a single ebook within the last three months. And of the ones who did, more than half of them — a whopping 56% — said their main reason was to read material that was required for a course. Plus, the study also found some bad news for the Kindle: 77% of those students who bought an ebook said they read ebooks on their laptop or Netbook. (Followed by another 30% who said they read their ebooks on a desktop computer.)

In fact, only 8% of college students even own a digital reader, according to the study. And when asked, nearly 60% of the remainder said they had no plans to buy one. (Though I guess you could read that as “more than 40% of the students” expected to buy one soon…) “We wanted to cut through all the speculation and put hard numbers to it,” said research manager Elizabeth Riddle. She announced that the college-age students are “definitely a growth opportunity for companies providing digital education products,” adding that the death of the printed book, “at least on campus, has been greatly exaggerated, and that dedicated e-readers have a way to go before they catch on…”

Publisher’s Weekly apparently contacted the authors of the study, since they reported a breakdown of the study’s results in even more detail. It shows that for those students using a dedicated reading device, the second most-popular handheld device is the iPhone, which comes in at 23.9%. But according to their report, the most popular device is still the Kindle, with a 31.4% share, split evenly between the Kindle 3 and the Kindle DX combined. The Nook comes in at 21.6%

In fact, if I’m reading those statistics correctly, there’s been an amazing spike in the popularity of the Kindle. The Kindle 3 has only been on the market for two months, and it’s already claimed as much of the market share as the earlier Kindle DX (which was released more than a year earlier!) Maybe for college students, a lower price brings a huge boost in sales. Or maybe the Kindle has more “buzz” after an extra year on the market.

But this was my favorite line of the study. “A tablet computer, such as an iPad, was the least common reading device used by students, selected by only 4% of respondents.” Out of all the ways to read an ebook, an iPad is one of the most expensive. Maybe college students are passing it over for a stack of used paperback books!

One thought to “Kindle Struggles on College Campuses?”

  1. I read a lot of eBooks but have yet to buy a dedicated eReader because no one makes a good one for under $100. That is the magic number for me and I feel it would turn something I consider a luxury into a necessary tool. I don’t believe I am alone in my line of thinking. You mention the iPad not having the market share but a lot of that has to do with the price of the device. I have seen them up close and while amazing…not worth the $500 it would take to own one…not to me at least.

    The accessibility factor has to do with the varied formats supported by a device. I personally prefer ePub format but that is just my preference. This is something the industry needs to work on and come with a solution. I would like to be able to buy a book from any online source and be able to read it on the device of my choice. They (all vendors of devices and booksellers) have to get their proprietary heads out of the sand for this to happen. I read my books on my laptop because the vendors of such products give us a free application to do so. It’s much less expensive to download an application for the Kindle or the Nook and read there.

    If Amazon would address these issues, your blog would tell of how Kindle sales have exploded not only in the campuses across the country…but in the households of the world as well.

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