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Ditch the backpack…go digital

student-heavy-backpack11My Inc Magazine arrived over the weekend (yes printed version – old school). In the Horse Race section, there’s an article “The death of the book bag?” that compared the emergence of 4 companies racing to capture the digital textbook market.  Did you know that schools, universities, and students spend $10B annually on textbooks (I assume US only).  It got me thinking… is this yet another booming market for storage both locally and in the cloud made possible by the likes of the Kindle and the iPad?

Think about it, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008, of the 3.2M high school graduates, 2.2M were planning on attending college in the fall (68%)

  • That’s 2.2 Million students
  • Each taking at minimum 4 courses (12 credits)
  • That’s 8.8 Million textbooks
  • Average file size, I’ll say 10MB (even though I’ve seen file sizes up to 2.0GB)

The total storage required (if every college freshman downloaded a digital textbook) is 88,000,000 Megabytes, or 88 Terabytes.  And, that’s just college freshman, and not including others already in college, much less K-12 students. Amazon has their eye on this market.  I am sure Apple does as well with the availability of the iPad, not to mention other entrants.

Yet, today digital textbooks represent less than 5% of college-store textbook sales but could reach 10 to 15 % by 2012, according to the National Association of College Stores. With new windows to access digital content like the Kindle, iPad, Netbooks, and even notebooks, there will be even more demands on storage to deliver and store that content.

Maybe pick up a FreeAgent Go at your college bookstore pre-populated with your textbooks for the semester.

How quickly do you see the textbook world going digital?

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