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College Students Would Give Up Sex for Digital Textbooks

They also say they'll eat mac-and-cheese for a whole month if they can go digital. (Yes, we're skeptical.)

Would you give up sex for an entire year in exchange for electronic textbooks? According to a new survey by education software company Kno, Inc., 70 percent of students say they'd prefer to have electronic books, and 25 percent say they're so tired of dragging around backpacks full of books that they'd willingly become celibate. For an entire year.

Sure, there are plenty of benefits to adopting e-readers for textbooks. I understand the frustration with the weight of college textbooks—you could probably use a heavy biology or history text as a hand-weight when you're doing P90X. Indeed, almost a quarter of the survey respondents said they lug around more than 20 pounds of books and other school-related supplies. Plus, there's nothing worse than getting all the way to the north side of campus, only to open your backpack and realize that you left your book back in your dorm room. If you had an e-reader, you'd have all your books on one device, so there'd be nothing to forget. But is the inconvenience really such a pain that students are willing to snap on a digital chastity belt?

Maybe not. The sample size of students is pretty small—the company, which makes digital textbooks, only surveyed 506 students attending four-year schools. I also don't know how seriously to take the results when, on top of giving up sex, half of the students also said they'd also eat mac and cheese every day for a month and give up going out on Saturday night's for a whole semester if they could just have electronic books.

The Kno results are also the opposite of what repeated surveys from the Student Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) have revealed. According to them, 75 percent of college students are fine dragging around hard-back textbooks. The real issue with college students is how textbooks have become so expensive. Cash strapped students simply don't have $1,000 per semester to spend on them.

If electronic books become less expensive than hard-back ones—and right now, they're usually not that much cheaper—then students are definitely going to flock to them in droves. Let's hope that can happen before they resort to making serious lifestyle sacrifices.

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