Why universities should hate the iPad

If students embrace textbooks on the iPad, college bookstores might lose their shirts, CNN reports. As the higher-education industry plans for a future involving digital content delivery to devices like Apple’s iPad, college-branded impulse purchases — and perhaps even college bookstores themselves — might become a thing of the past. Despite the large size and robust performance of the higher-education book market, college stores are wary of the effect digital textbooks will have on their future. According to research conducted by the Oberlin, Ohio-based National Association of College Stores (NACS), campus booksellers netted $10.2 billion in total sales last year. Of that, $5.8 billion came from the sale of course materials, with the remaining $4.4 billion taking the form of soft goods. Last year, NACS says, 51 percent of students bought their course materials at brick-and-mortar college bookstores, and 18 percent purchased books online through school-approved web sites. The remaining 31 percent either bought no materials or purchased them off-campus. eBooks, meanwhile, are slowly gaining traction with students and presenting problems for the stores. According to NACS, electronic titles currently account for just 2 to 3 percent of college bookstore sales, but by 2012 are projected to reach 10 to 15 percent. And should students demand content on the iPad, bookstores will be locked out. Apple’s current App Store and iBookstore sales models give publishers the lion’s share of a 70-30 revenue split, and cut out the schools entirely. Meanwhile, in bookstores’ current distribution model, colleges pocket, on average, 33 percent of the price of a new book…

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