Traditional textbooks still relevant at ASU

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Students are back in class at Arkansas State University, which means textbooks are back in demand.

Now that ASU requires all freshmen to have iPads, many students think traditional paperback textbooks could be a thing of the past. But local textbook store managers said these textbooks are still relevant.

"We're rockin' and rollin'. Selling a lot of books," Textbook Broker manager Bobby Lorimer said. "Whatever's cheapest for the student, that's what we're gonna provide for them. We rent a lot of textbooks. Right now, that's the best financial option for the students."

"We've certainly been selling a lot of the e-books to the freshmen because of the iPads. And we also have been renting a lot of textbooks," University Bookstore manager Jeanie Pechilis said.

Lorimer said the e-book market is still very fractured.  

"Each publisher or each provider has a different portal that you have to go to to get that. You spend a lot of time logging in and trying to navigate to your e-book. With renting a physical book, you've got it right there in front of you," Lorimer said.

Pechilis said with e-books, students save 40 to 60 percent over the cost of a new textbook. As far as renting books, students save about 50 percent over the cost of a new book.

"We did some studies with a marketing research class. And, right now, if the student had the choice, most of them opt for the print version of the book. There was actually only about three percent of one of those markets that we actually wanting the digital book. Obviously, those numbers are changing as students coming up from K through 12 have more opportunities to use digital products," Lorimer said.  

"What I have seen from talking to the students is that it's really a personal preference. A lot of them still feel more comfortable with the printed book and then a lot of them want the e-books," Pechilis said. 

But sometimes students do not have a choice. 

"Not every title is available in an e-book format, as well as it's not available in rental form. So the students are buying a mix," Pechilis said. 

"Right now, 80 percent of the students' decision for what they use in the class is based on what the teacher tells them," Lorimer said. 

Lorimer said his bookstore will continue to evolve as students' tastes change. 

"Students are always gonna need educational material. So our job is just position ourselves where we can provide that," Lorimer said. 

"The printed book is still king. But in the next two to three years, it will probably all be e-books," Pechilis said. 

Both agreed they will reevaluate the textbook versus the e-book before the beginning of each new semester.

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