May 30 – June 5, 2011 Edition Study Shows Illegal Downloading on the Rise by Students

New York, NY/AUTHORLINK NEWS/June 1, 2011–-The final installment in Volume One of BISG’s ongoing Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education survey shows an increase in illicit textbook acquisition behavior among college students. Since students were first surveyed during the fall 2010 semester, illegal photocopying of content doubled (from 20% to 40%) and instances of e-textbook content download went up 70%. Freshmen and sophomores reported the greatest increase in these activities, suggesting that students are learning to be more aggressive in finding lower cost alternatives to high priced core textbooks. In addition, while financial investment by students is one predictor of illicit behaviors, the study also revealed that personal interest in a course is a strong driver in student textbook buying behavior.

Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education focuses on college student perceptions related to educational content and presentation media in the higher education marketplace. It is powered by Bowker’s PubTrack™ Consumer data, the publishing industry’s premier resource for understanding book consumer buying behavior. Volume One of Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education is sponsored by Champion Sponsor Xplana and Additional Sponsors Baker & Taylor, Budgetext, CourseSmart, Follett Higher Education, Kno and Pearson.

“College students are an exceptionally dynamic demographic,” said Angela Bole, BISG’s Deputy Executive Director. “Plotting their behavior is complicated by rapid technology transformation as well as rising educational costs, among other things. BISG’s ongoing survey of student attitudes goes a long way toward helping the publishing industry make sense of this changing market place by providing hard data on the impact of habits and preferences.”

Additional findings from the survey include:

International editions are gaining popularity. The number of students reporting the purchase of international editions increased by 68.2% from fall to spring. E-textbooks have a long way to go. Of the 20% of students who said they purchased an e-textbook, 24% said they were not satisfied with the experience (compared to only 7% who were not satisfied with the core print textbook). Textbook rentals might be losing momentum. 7.4% of college students said they rented their textbook, down slightly from the previous survey. This could indicate that the rental trend has peaked. Student and professor engagement drives satisfaction with textbook management systems. Tools such as MyLabs and WileyPlus were considered “high value” by only 38% of the general population of students surveyed. However, higher percentages of students saw value in the individual components of these tools, such as online quizzing and diagnostic self tests, indicating a possible brand perception issue. Further, students said they are more likely to be satisfied with these tools when they are used in a course they are interested in or if their professor integrates them into the course appropriately. When both of these things happen, student satisfaction rates are very high.

“As with every part of the publishing industry, the college textbook market is undergoing exponential change,” said Kelly Gallagher, Vice President of Publishing Services at Bowker. “Trying to keep up with, let alone stay ahead of what students expect and need related to an enriched learning experience will continue to pay big dividends to those taking the time to understand this ever-changing market. Even observing the shifts from the first to second data set indicate just how much change can take place in a short amount of time.”

The findings from Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education come from a semi-annual online survey of college students, drawn from a nationally representative panel. To ensure the survey questions explored the appropriate trends and issues, they were developed in partnership with a variety of publishers and other companies working in the higher ed market place. In addition to the core question set, survey sponsors and other interested parties can submit proprietary questions to supplement the core fieldings. Those interested in submitting proprietary questions should contact Angela Bole in the BISG office at 646-336-7141 or

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 final installment of Volume One of Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education will be available on June 17th. For more information, or to order a copy, visit