There are two trends about e-textbooks. First, it is getting popular. According to a report from the Chronicle of Higher Education, CourseSmart, a leading e-textbook seller reported a '400 percent increase' in sales for 2009 from the year before. Second, students still prefer traditional printed textbooks (Read another TEL blog article) because students do not want to "give up the ability to quickly flip through paper books, write notes in the margins and use a highlighter to mark important passages." Perhaps, because of those old habits, E-textbooks make up very small portion (under 3 percent) of whole textbook market although it is expected to grow up to 15 percent in 2012.
Recently, there are some new attempts to change those old habits and resistances of students in order to deal with high costs of textbooks. Making e-textbooks as required reading. According to a report of the Chronicle of Higher Education, some colleges and universities including Indiana University at Bloomington and Virginia State's business school are experimenting to have students pay mandatory course material fees (around $30 per course) for all e-textbooks and reading materials for the course, which they can read online or download. College leaders who are pushing the new programs hope that this mandatory e-textbooks can control high costs of textbooks. And they claim that this can save the textbook industry at the same time by reducing digital piracy.
However, some issues remain. The reporter of the article asks a few questions: Is it ethical to force students to buy it, even at a reduced rate? And what if students feel they are better off on their own, where they have the option of sharing or borrowing a book at no cost?