College Student Choice among Electronic and Printed Textbook Options

Dmitriy V. Chulkov
Jason VanAlstine


This empirical analysis focuses on student choices among electronic, new, and used printed textbook media. No significant relationship between textbook medium choice and student performance or demographic characteristics was observed. Ease of use and purchase and learning style were considered by students while cost and ability to keep the book have the most significant influence on medium selection. Results imply that multiple textbook media allow students to self-select the option that works best for them.


Business education, Electronic, Instructional media, Textbooks


This study looks at what factors lead to students choosing eBooks or traditional paper, physical books. Using OLS, the researchers found that ease of use and ease of purchasing were factors in what kind of class material students chose to utilize for class. It is also important to note that students’ ability to keep their text book after completion of the class was not statistically significant (sample was 57% non-discipline majors) but being able to effectively use the textbook to learn was important. Cost was also an important factor when considering whether to buy a physical book or eBook. No difference was found within demographic groups, technological abilities, or academic performance.

This study has some generalizability as it had a high response rate (90%), however, some caution should be taken when considering that the study only looks at 9 sections of introduction courses. Based on their results, the researchers suggest that universities provide different formats for textbooks and allow students to choose the best fit for them.

APA Citation

Chulkov, D. V., & VanAlstine, J. (2013). College student choice among electronic and printed textbook options. Journal of Education for Business, 88:4, 216-222.

About the Study

Links to Article
Mode Technology-enhanced
Publication Type Journal Article
In Publication Journal of Education for Business
Type of Research Quantitative
Research Design Survey research (qualitative or quantitative)
Intervention/Areas of Study Other
Level of Analysis Student-level
Specific Populations Examined Undergraduates
Peer-Reviewed Yes
Specific Institutional Characteristics of Interest 4-year Institution, Public
Specific Course or Program Characteristics Social sciences
Outcome Variables of Interest Instructional effectiveness, Learning effectiveness, Satisfaction
Student Sample Size 100-199
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