Thursday, April 30th, 2009

e-book Reading on the Rise

Dispelling Myths about e-books

I just came across a study about e-book usage in UK universities and it’s made me very excited, particularly because I’ve recently signed a contract with Eternal Press for my novella, Blood Soup, to be published in both print and e-format this September.

More than 48,000 people answered the 2-part survey, making it the world’s largest e-book survey. (Wow!)

Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) conducted the survey.

JISC “supports education and research by promoting innovation in new technologies.” (And I suspect sells textbooks, but I don’t know that for certain…)

According to their report (PDF), responses “point to a growing acceptance of e-books by the academic community, with both teaching staff and students making greater use of e-books…”

I realize that academic usage doesn’t often correlate to recreational usage of books, but I can’t help thinking that at least some of those university students reading their texts on-line, and enjoying the experience, will find themselves picking up other reading materials (read: fiction) in electronic format.

Some of the survey questions were general enough to relate to non-academic use:

Q: Do you use e-books?
  2008 2009 Index
Students in a JISC Discipline 63.2% 65.5% 103.6
All other Students 61.4% 64.2% 104.6
Teachers in a JISC Discipline 57.0% 63.5% 111.4
All other teachers 58.9% 64.9% 110.2

Also, according the survey, “well over one-third of students (42.2 percent) had consulted at least three eBook titles in the month prior to the survey.”

Here are a few other interesting findings:

  • Books were available 24/7, but were most often read at lunchtime. (The one o’clock hour showed the most usage at 9%.)
  • One-fifth (1/5) of all usage took place over the weekend.
  • Students spent more time reading (as opposed to browsing information) over the weekend.

Sounds like a lot of recreational reading! These students might have been reading text-books for school, but it seems to me like they’re also building their non-school e-book reading habits.

You can read more about the survey at the JISC National e-books observatory project.

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