College Faculty Continue their Love Affair with Print Textbooks, Says New BISG Study

Share Article

Research finds overwhelming percentage of faculty feel students need texts to succeed… and they prefer them in print.

While students may be the ultimate consumers of course materials, professors are not only influencers, they are the decision-makers. Understanding where they fit on the e- versus print continuum is essential for any organization serving this market.

A first ever survey of college faculty perceptions toward classroom materials found that professors continue to equate their own and their students’ successes in the classroom to the use of materials such as textbooks and most prefer print formats. Faculty Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education, led by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) and powered by Bowker® Market Research, reveals that 93 percent of faculty feel students who use required course materials receive higher grades in class. An even higher percentage feel the use of these materials by students enables professors to be more effective teachers.

“The emergence of e-books has led to a lot of confusion in the marketplace about what faculty want from publishers,” said Angela Bole, BISG's Deputy Executive Director. “While students may be the ultimate consumers of course materials, professors are not only influencers, they are the decision-makers. Understanding where they fit on the e- versus print continuum is essential for any organization serving this market.”

Faculty Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education is a companion to BISG’s Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education, which provides a unique counterpoint to the new study. Results from these studies show that print continues to be the dominant format made available by faculty, as well as the format most often selected by students. While 32 percent of faculty said they make e-book options available, only 2 percent of students select them as the primary way to access content.

“Linkages between the student and faculty surveys across issues are extremely valuable,” said Andy Fisher, Market Research Director for Cengage Learning, a sponsor of the study. “Higher education publishers must balance the needs of both students and faculty. The comparison points enable us to measure attitudes and how they impact behavior.”

Indeed, comparing results from the two studies shows that faculty are lagging slightly behind students in fondness for e-texts: 12 percent of faculty prefer this emerging format to print, while 16 percent of students prefer “e” to “p.” Of faculty members who have already adopted an e-textbook (20 percent), 90 percent are pleased with the results and say they will likely adopt an e-text in the future. Faculty who have not yet adopted an e-textbook provide several reasons for preferring print: ease of bookmarking, higher levels of engagement, preference for the look and feel of print, and students’ lack of devices for viewing e-textbooks.

“This is the kind of data that allows us to see what’s behind the sales trends,” said Christine McFadden, Director of Strategic Marketing, Intellectual Property, at Follett Higher Education Group, a sponsor of the study. “When we understand the ‘why’ behind the decision, we can more accurately predict when and how the trends will shift.”

Faculty Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education also provides insight into the textbook selection process faculty employ. More than half of faculty surveyed (57 percent) indicated that textbook selections were based on individual choice. More than three-quarters prefer materials with which they already have experience and most hesitate to adopt a new edition until necessary. Further, 60 percent are heeding student concerns about the expense of texts and prefer materials that are available at a low cost to students. The same percentage advise students on where to find required course materials, but only 30 percent believe that bookstores are providing adequate information about format and price options for students.

Findings from Faculty Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education came from an online survey of college professors and administrators, drawn from a nationally representative panel. To ensure the survey questions explored the appropriate trends and issues, they were developed in partnership with publishers and other companies working in the higher education market place.

The survey findings are available for sale both as a PDF summary report and as a complete data compendium, accessible online. A substantial discount is available for BISG members. The first Faculty Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education is available as of April 17, 2012. For more information or to order a copy, please visit

About Book Industry Study Group, Inc.
The Book Industry Study Group, Inc. (BISG) is the U.S. book industry's leading trade association for policy, standards and research. The mission of BISG is to create a more informed, empowered and efficient book industry supply chain for both physical and digital products. Membership consists of publishers, manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, librarians, and others engaged in the business of print and electronic media. For over 30 years, BISG has provided a forum for all industry professionals to come together and efficiently address issues and concerns to advance the book community. Learn more about BISG at

About Bowker (
Bowker is the world's leading provider of bibliographic information and management solutions designed to help publishers, booksellers, and libraries better serve their customers. Creators of products and services that make books easier for people to discover, evaluate, order, and experience, the company also generates research and resources for publishers, helping them understand and meet the interests of readers worldwide. Bowker, an affiliated business of ProQuest and the official ISBN Agency for the United States and its territories as well as Australia, is headquartered in New Providence, New Jersey with additional operations in England and Australia.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Angela Bole
Email >
Visit website