Exploring e-Book Adopters’ Resistance to Giving Up Paper


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In 2006, Amazon and its competitors ushered in an era of devices that offered a functionally better reading experience than any device before them. Yet, the debate around the continued requirement for the paper book rages on. The dominant belief is that young adults who grew up with computers, tablets, and internet access would embrace e-books for learning. Most university students continue to prefer paper textbooks. Missing from research to date is an exploration of the e-book adopters’ resistance to discontinuing paper textbooks even if they adopt e-textbooks. Data from open-ended questions and focus groups with university students is analyzed to elucidate the characteristics that make students resistant to completely replace paper textbooks with e-textbooks. We suggest that the e-content developer and publisher are misunderstanding how students use information to achieve academic success. It is our contention that the current limitations of e-textbooks and digital content restrict their role to supplementing the paper-based studying and learning process that is necessary for academic success. One could argue that students’ resistance to giving up paper is consistent with the typical reaction of existing market to a disruptive technology. If the acquisition and understanding of a pre-defined set of knowledge continues to be necessary for academic success, then traditional methods of studying and learning may continue to be students’ preferred choice. If the “disruptive technology” is a new view of academic knowledge as fleeting and ever changing, then students may not need to attach it to paper, or to their minds.