Study challenges e-book assumptions

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Initial observations from the UK's national e-book observatory are already challenging assumptions about how students use e-books.

According to Lorraine Estelle CEO of JISC Collections, in the first user survey, which received over 22,000 responses, 62 per cent of students reported that they read online whilst only 6 per cent said that they print to read. The survey also indicated that interactivity may not be as important to students as anticipated. 'Students say that the main attraction is that e-books within an academic setting, are more accessible than print books, meaning that users can get at them wherever they are and at whatever time they like,' explained Estelle.

The UK’s first national e-book observatory, which is funded by JISC, will provide empirical data about the use of e-books in 127 universities. It aims to provide publishers and e-book aggregators with a picture of how students use their course texts in the digital environment. The outcomes of the research will help inform the creation of business models as well as the future format of e-books, based on the real needs of the users.

The outcomes of the research will be published in spring 2009.