The University of California Libraries released the results of an ebook use survey launched in October 2010. The survey measured overall ebook use and preference, but also analyzed the satisfaction level of the Springer e-books and My Copy service, which UC Libraries initiated in 2008.
Some highlights from the survey, found in the executive summary on pages 4 – 5, include:
- When asked about the use of e-books in their academic work, 58% of survey respondents reported using e-books; 38% reported not using e-books; and 4% were not sure of their e-book usage. Of those reporting not using e-books, the majority report utilizing digital resources, such as e-journals.
- Of the survey respondents who indicated a preference (n=2410), 49% prefer print books, 34% prefer e-books, and 17% had no preference or described a preference that is usage-dependent.
- Postdoctoral researchers reported the highest preference for e-books over print books (49%), followed by graduate students (35%), faculty and lecturers (33%), and undergraduate students (27%). Respondents in business and law reported the highest preference for e-books (54%), followed by life and health sciences (44%), physical sciences and engineering (32%), social sciences (31%), and arts and humanities (17%).
- Undergraduate students indicated the highest preference for print books (58%); many undergraduate respondents commented on the difficulty they have learning, retaining, and concentrating while in front of a computer.
- The ability to search within and across e-book content is identified as the primary advantage of e-books, regardless of whether a respondent prefers print book or e-books.
- The ability to download the entire e-book to a device for later use is a highly valued feature. Respondents expressed frustration with those e-book vendors that restrict downloading or printing to chapters or other pre-defined sections.
- Undergraduate students express the strongest desire for a corresponding print copy of an academic e-book for borrowing from a UC library, with 66% rating it as important.
- A surprising 41% of respondents rate the option to purchase a “print-on-demand” copy of an e-book as an important feature, implying that utilization of the service should witness an upward trend.