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The Evolution of Digital Textbooks

The Evolution of Digital Textbooks

Posted on : June 1st 2022

Author : Sanjeev Jain

Digital Textbooks Are Bringing in Radical Changes in Education

Advantages, Disadvantages, and The Role of Content in Digital Textbooks

For many years, textbooks were seen as an essential foundation for instruction and have been a fundamental part of the educational infrastructure given to students for acquiring knowledge. However, the experience of students is much different today. The technological advances and an increase in the digital curriculum have hastened the move away from physical textbooks to digital textbooks. Digital textbooks, also known as e-textbooks or online textbooks, are the digital rendition of printed textbooks with more features. They are an easy, convenient, and thoroughly modern way of accessing academic information. Today they have become a significant part of the technology-based educational reforms happening worldwide.

The Growth of Digital Textbooks.

The digitization in almost every field has boosted the use of digital textbooks. As digital textbooks are interactive, they consist of learning materials and visual aids all in one place, which is considered very handy. Moreover, digital textbooks are holding the students attention by reducing the huge blocks of texts owing to which they are gaining popularity.

The increasing digitization, growth in the use of digital textbooks, and enhanced demand for EdTech solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic are predominantly driving the market's growth.

Digital textbooks have been around for a while now and have become popular due to their lower cost, greater convenience, and wider access to the internet and digital platforms.

According to the interactive textbook market overview by IndustryARC, the global e-textbooks market is estimated to reach the U.S. $3.7 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 7.8% from 2021 to 2026.

Digital Textbooks Benefits.


  • Digital Textbooks Are Resources for Interactivity and Collaboration.

    Digital textbooks use electronic devices to access and view the educational content. Using digital textbooks in schools offers convenience in reading as the content is downloadable and viewable across multiple other devices. Digital textbooks contain interactive features such as audio, videos, interactive case studies, highlighting and annotating tools, and audio translations, which are not found in printed educational materials. In addition, some digital textbooks have collaborative capabilities in which students and educators can share, highlight, annotate, and pose questions to each other.

  • Digital Textbooks Have Familiar Navigation Tools.

    Today’s students are familiar with navigation tools due to exposure to computers and mobile phones, and this enables students to locate and search for information quickly in any eTextbook. Furthermore, the navigation tools allow authors to streamline information presented by easily linking content throughout the digital textbook.

  • Digital Textbooks Have Real-Time Updates.

    Relevance of information is how students decide whether or not an online textbook is practical. Historically physical textbook publishers have always updated the textbooks once every few years, which meant the upgraded physical would be available only after a few years. This practice led to a kind of barrier for authors as they need to keep current on the topic and be prepared to synthesize recent developments when updating the next edition of the textbooks. On the other hand, e-textbooks can be updated in real-time, resulting in a more versatile learning resource that changes based on the availability of new information.


  • Limited New Content with Digital Textbooks.

    As publishers have refocused their attention on digital textbooks, it has reduced the need for new authors. As online textbooks are a replication of physical textbooks, publishers are redirecting authors to digital formats, and this change in focus has resulted in a decline in agreements between publishers and new authors for new digital content.

  • Mismatch with Preferences.

    While the existing generation is familiar with technology and can easily use devices for education, there are still a few who prefer printed books over eTextbooks. And that’s because while current students are used to browsing and multitasking on their devices, greater physical and mental demands are required when reading on a screen. In addition, there are other reasons for students’ preference for printed books, such as annoyance of scrolling through digital content, distracting social media alerts on online textbooks, and difficulty moving back and forth through digital pages.

  • Decreased Comprehension.

    While it’s debatable whether a student’s level of comprehension can be negatively affected in certain situations when content is presented digitally, the fact is that when students view information that is longer than 500 words, a print textbook makes better sense as opposed to online textbooks. It’s also believed that students can better list critical points and recall details when information is presented in print.

  • Rising Costs of eTextbooks.

    eTextbooks can be up to 60% cheaper than print textbooks, making them an attractive option for students; however, the prices of online textbooks have become almost on par with print textbooks in recent years. Secondly, as content is timed to expire after a year of study, students can’t even hand over the books to their juniors, unlike printed textbooks.

Why does Digital Textbook Content Make a Difference?

Today’s digital textbooks are technologically more advanced than two or three years earlier. They are lighter, powerful, and pack more features than before. However, it’s important to remember that digital textbooks offer the same content as regular textbooks, just that they are graphically better and colorful. Furthermore, unlike traditional textbooks, which are available only for a few months after the start of the academic year, one can buy access rights for a book and then read the content on any electronic device at any time of the year.


Advancements in technological capabilities will continue to drive changes in the way students learn and teachers teach. The decision of the publishers to change and move to digital textbooks is just one example of how technology has changed the way textbooks are developed, bought, and read. The ubiquity of digital textbooks requires publishers to be aware of mechanisms to best support the development and delivery of digital educational materials. For over 30 years, Straive has been one of the world’s leading providers of educational content services like full-scale curriculum development for academic publishers, universities, eLearning companies, and corporate firms. We combine domain expertise with technology, multi-language, and multi-geography presence to help PreK-12, higher education, and adult learners learn effectively and efficiently. Our full suite of solutions spans end-to-end content development, program conceptualization, prototyping, SME content authoring, quality-control editorial services, design, and production.

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