Foreword Online

Ideas, information and industry news for collegiate retailers

Is the Dawn of Digital Finally Here?

Posted by Joe Clarkin on 8/25/15 11:00 PM
Topics: digital content, retail technology

The increasing use of eBooks, iPads, Chromebooks and other electronic devices in K-12 classrooms could mean a brighter future for digital in Higher Education, despite millennials’ continue preference for print books. With classroom technology being more common than ever, and a generation of the kids that grew up in that era going off to college, it makes sense that these trends could be creeping their way into collegiate lecture halls.


That is not to say that technology is not already a huge part of higher education. Many use their laptops, tablets and phones (for educational purposes only, right?) in the classroom on a daily basis already, of course, but the trend seems to be swinging even more towards digital in the near future.

A lot of that starts with students course materials. eBooks obviously provide a certain degree of convenience that a physical copy cannot offer. Thousands of books can be stored on a single device, and its owner never has to worry about a page tearing or the spine fraying. Plus, students can download their digital title from the comfort of their home or dorm room without having to actually go into the bookstore.

And while the convenience is nice and certainly plays a large role in the appeal of an eBook, the real benefit for students is the cost savings compared to physical copies. On average, eBooks are about 53 percent cheaper than a standard, paper textbook. This is especially important for college students, the majority of whom are on a very strict budget, and is a major reason why the answer to our titular question may actually be “yes.”

But it’s not just eBooks, it’s the devices that store them as well. Tablets and laptops are not cheap necessarily, but they have declined by over 30 and 44 percent in the last five years, respectively, making them more affordable for everyone, students included. In years past, the availability of electronic devices was much more common in the K-12 arena, especially private schools in higher income locations, but with prices coming down in all of these areas, more higher education students are able to afford making digital a priority.

All that is to say that if the dawn of digital in higher education is not actually on the horizon, well, you could’ve fooled us. Digital is already an important part of higher education, and the degree of that importance only seems to be increasing. Is your store embracing the trend?

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