Study reveals e-book use trends

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The social sciences far outperform humanities and STM in the percentage of e-book titles used and the average amount of use per book. However, users working with e-books on STM subjects tend to be more active with their books in each session, carrying out tasks such as downloading or printing content.

These are among the findings of new research from Michael Levine-Clark, associate dean for scholarly communication and collections services at the University of Denver Libraries, USA. Levine-Clark carried out an intensive examination of usage data supplied by th ProQuest e-book businesses ebrary and EBL - Ebook Library. His findings were being presented at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia and form the foundation of ongoing study.
‘This is a particularly enlightening study because it dispels the widely-held notion that STM e-books get higher usage,’ said Levine-Clark. ‘Data provided by leading aggregators now shows us the importance of e-books to research in the social sciences.’
Levine-Clark’s research also revealed the importance of quality content to users and that they prefer titles from university presses to those from other publishers. ‘University press e-books are used at a higher rate by all measures,’ said Levine-Clark. ‘Users of e-books appear to be making some judgment about quality.’
The data set from ebrary and EBL was anonymised and provided to Levine-Clark in aggregate. Collected over the course of three to four years, the data encompassed more than 7,000 libraries and included more than a half-million titles. Within the data, Levine-Clark explored sessions and user activities, such as views, printing, copying and full-title downloads.