Thursday, September 25, 2008

E-Books: The End User Experience

Springer has published a white paper on the results of a study they undertook asking librarians and users about their views on ebook adoption and benefits. In two stages, the company spoke to librarians in 2007 and followed that study up with another focused on users in 2008.
The survey uncovered some encouraging results regarding eBook adoption. Most users were aware of eBooks and had accessed them at least once. Respondents also overwhelmingly said that eBooks are useful and that they would like to incorporate eBooks into their information experience more frequently. These positive findings are supported by additional Springer usage research and studies from independent organizations that have found a surprising level of uptake for eBooks given their relative newness.
Other items of interest from the study (and covered in the document in more detail):
  • Users mostly access ebooks for research and study while reading reference and textbooks
  • E-book usage appears less concentrated than online journal usage
  • Users find ebooks equally via Google and their library
  • Convenience, accessibility, and enhanced functionality are the primary benefits of eBooks
  • Current users expect to prefer ebooks to other reading formats over time (next five yrs).
The study summarizes the findings as follows:
Users are not reading eBooks cover-to-cover in the traditional sense but instead approach them as a resource for finding answers to research questions. eBooks have the potential to stimulate new forms of book content usage and will require libraries to think differently about how to accommodate the needs of users as their eBook collections grow. Viewing eBooks through the lens of traditional print book usage might cause libraries to miss important opportunities for enhancing the user research experience.

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