Press Center > VitalSource Report Reveals Continued Shift in Student Demand for Digital Course Materials

June 11, 2024

VitalSource Report Reveals Continued Shift in Student Demand for Digital Course Materials


2024 Course Materials Report Unveils Key Trends in Student Retail Behavior and Day-One Access Programs 

RALEIGH, NC - VitalSource, a leading education technology solutions provider, has released its latest Annual Course Materials Report, revealing a continued shift towards digital preferences among students along with increasing value being seen in day-one affordable access programs. 
According to the report, this year marks the highest preference level for digital recorded, showcasing a dramatic increase from less than 1% a decade ago. The data, collected anonymously through VitalSource’s comprehensive content management and learning platforms, underscores the growing trend towards digitalization in higher education course materials. 

“This data is encouraging, reflecting a continued shift in the preference of the modern learner towards embracing digital course materials and the value both students and institutions see in day-one access programs,” said Kent Freeman, Chief Executive Officer for VitalSource. “This year’s report delivers crucial insights that we are uniquely qualified to share that can help our partners and the broader industry adapt to these evolving educational preferences.” 
The report not only tracks a decade of digital growth in traditional retail, but also highlights accelerating participation in day-one access programs like Inclusive Access (IA) and Equitable Access (EA) and integration with Learning Management Systems (LMS).  
“Affordable access programs improve affordability, provide instant access to materials, and offer unmatched convenience for students as they navigate changes in their course selections,” said Jared Pearlman, Chief Strategy Officer for VitalSource.

VitalSource’s Annual Course Materials Report documents trends across student purchasing habits and the evolution of day-one access programs.    

Key findings in the report include:  

  • The LMS is emerging as an important point of sale. At 22.9%, nearly a quarter of unit checkouts were completed through a student’s LMS. This has increased from 18.6% in 2023 and 7.3% in 2022. 
  • Students are 2.5 times more likely to purchase digital materials inside the LMS. Accounting for 48% of LMS sales, students value the immediate access that digital offers compared to a physical version. 
  • About 93% of students participated in IA programs when they were made available to them.  
  • The number of publishers engaged in IA programs has increased almost 10x since 2019. Currently, 538 publishers are engaged in IA programs, compared to only 62 five years ago. This competitive market is ideal for keeping costs more affordable for students. 
  • The amount of etext units in IA programs has grown 20% over the last four years. Etext is nearly evenly split with courseware at 49%, compared to 2019 when it made up less than a quarter of units in IA programs. 
  • EA programs are driving down costs while providing students with added stability and convenience. The University of California, Davis, an innovator of EA, delivered more than 11,000 units through EA in 2024. Alongside increasing affordability for students, the program lessened negative effects associated with content-changing events like adding a class, dropping a class, or receiving a course section update. 

View the full Annual Course Materials Report here. To learn more about VitalSource, visit 

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About VitalSource 

VitalSource Technologies, LLC is the leading education technology solutions provider committed to helping partners create, deliver, and distribute affordable, accessible, and impactful learning experiences worldwide. As a recognized innovator in the digital course materials market, VitalSource is best known for partnering with thousands of publishers and resellers to deliver extraordinary learning experiences to millions of active users globally—and today we’re also powering new, cutting-edge technologies designed to optimize teaching and learning for maximum results. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. 

Media Contact

Erin McCarthy, VitalSource