ER&L 2013: Ebooks — Their Use and Acceptance by Undergraduates and Faculty

“Kali, Avatar of the eBook” by Javier Candeira

Speaker: Deborah Lenares, Wellesley College

Libraries have been relatively quietly collecting ebooks for years, but it wasn’t until the Kindle came out that public interest in ebooks was aroused. Users exposure and expectations for ebooks has been raised, with notable impact on academic libraries. From 2010-2011, the number of ebooks in academic libraries doubled.

Wellesley is platform agnostic — they look for the best deal with the best content. Locally, they have seen an overall increase in unique titles viewed, a dramatic increase in pages viewed, a modest decrease in pages printed, and a dramatic increase in downloads.

In February 2012, they sent a survey to all of their users, with incentives (iPad, gift cards, etc.) and a platform (Zoomerang) provided by Springer. They had a 57% response rate (likely iPad-influenced), and 71% have used ebooks (51% used ebooks from the Wellesley College Library). If the survey respondent had not used ebooks, they were skipped to the end of the survey, because they were only interested in data from those who have used ebooks.

A high percent of the non-library ebooks were from free sources like Google Books, Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, etc. Most of the respondents ranked search within the text and offline reading or download to device among the most important functionality aspects, even higher than printing.

Most of the faculty respondents found ebooks to be an acceptable option, but prefer to use print. Fewer students found ebooks an acceptable option, and preferred print more than faculty. There is a reason that will be aparent later in the talk.

The sciences preferred ebooks more than other areas, and found them generally more acceptable than other areas, but the difference is slight. Nearly all faculty who used ebooks would continue to, ranging from preferring them to reluctant acceptance.

Whether they love or hate ebooks, most users skimmed/search and read a small number of consecutive pages or a full chapter. However, ebooks haters almost never read an entire book, and most of the others infrequently did so. Nearly everyone read ebooks on a computer/laptop. Ebook lovers used devices, and ebook haters were more likely to have printed it out. Most would prefer to not use their computer/laptop, and the ebook lovers would rather use their devices.

Faculty are more likely to own or plan to purchase a device than students, which may be why faculty find ebooks more acceptable than students. Maybe providing devices to them would be helpful?

For further research:

  • How does the robustness of ebook collections effect use and attitudes?
  • Is there a correlation between tablet/device use and attitudes?
  • Are attitudes toward shared ebooks (library) different from attitudes toward personal ebooks?

The full text of the white paper is available from Springer.

VLACRL Spring 2011: Building an eReaders Collection at Duke University Libraries

They started lending ereaders because they wanted to provide a way for users to interact with new and emerging technologies.

Speaker: Nancy Gibbs

They started lending ereaders because they wanted to provide a way for users to interact with new and emerging technologies. The collection focus is on high circulation popular reading titles, and they do add patron requests. Recently, they added all of the Duke University Press titles, per the request of the university press. (Incidentally, not all of the Duke UP titles are available in Kindle format because Amazon won’t allow them to sell a book in Kindle format until it has sold 50 print copies.)

They marketed their ereader program through word of mouth, the library website, the student paper, and the communications office. The communications press release was picked up by the local newspaper. They also created a YouTube video explaining how to reserve/check-out the ereaders, and gave presentations to the teaching & learning technologists and faculty.

For the sake of consistency and availability of titles, they purchase one copy of a title for every pod of six Kindle ereaders. Amazon allows you to load and view a Kindle book on up to six devices, which is how they arrived at that number. For the Nooks, they can have a book loaded on apparently an unlimited number of devices, so they purchase only one copy of a title from Barnes & Noble. They try to have the same titles on both the Kindles and the Nooks, but not every title available for purchase on the Kindle is also available on the Nook. Each of the books purchased is cataloged individually, with the location as the device it is on, and they will appear to be checked out when the device is checked out.

When they first purchased the devices and were figuring out the local workflow of purchasing and loading the content, the tech services department (acquisitions, cataloging, etc.) were given the devices to experiment with them. In part, this was to sort out any kinks in workflow that they may discover, but also it was because these folks don’t often get the chance to play with new technology in the library as their public service counterparts do. Gibbs recommends that libraries purchase insurance options for the devices, because things can happen.

One of the frustrations with commercial ereader options like the Kindle and Nook is that they are geared towards individual users and not library use. So, unlike other ebook providers and platforms, they do not give the library any usage data regarding the books used, which can make collection development in these areas somewhat challenging. However, given that their scope is popular reading material and that they take patron requests, this is not as much of an issue as it could be.

Side note: Gibbs pointed out that ebook readers are still not yet greener than print books, mostly because of the toxicity of the materials and the amount of resources that go into producing them. EcoLibris has a great resource page with more information about this.

library lending with the Kindle

kindle with newspaper
Amazon Kindle

I’m sure by now that you’ve heard the Amazon announcement that they will be offering a service to allow libraries to lend books to Kindle users. Well, the thing that got this academic librarian excited is this line from the press release: “If a Kindle book is checked out again or that book is purchased from Amazon, all of a customer’s annotations and bookmarks will be preserved.”

One of the common complaints we received in our pilot programs using Kindles in the classroom was that because the students had to return the devices, they couldn’t keep the notes they had made in the texts. Of course, even with this model they won’t be able to access their notes without checking out the book again, but at least it’ll be an option for them.

Of course, there is a down side to this announcement — the lending will be facilitated by OverDrive.  Unless you’ve been a library news hermit for the past few years, you’ve heard the complaints (and very few praises) about the OverDrive platform, and the struggles of librarians and users in getting the materials checked out and downloaded to devices. I hope that because Amazon will be relying on their fantastic Whispersync technology to retain notes and bookmarks,it will just as easy to check out and download the Kindle books through OverDrive.

NASIG 2010: Publishing 2.0: How the Internet Changes Publications in Society

Presenter: Kent Anderson, JBJS, Inc

Medicine 0.1: in dealing with the influenza outbreak of 1837, a physician administered leeches to the chest, James’s powder, and mucilaginous drinks, and it worked (much like take two aspirin and call in the morning). All of this was written up in a medical journal as a way to share information with peers. Journals have been the primary source of communicating scholarship, but what the journal is has become more abstract with the addition of non-text content and metadata. Add in indexes and other portals to access the information, and readers have changed the way they access and share information in journals. “Non-linear” access of information is increasing exponentially.

Even as technology made publishing easier and more widespread, it was still producers delivering content to consumers. But, with the advent of Web 2.0 tools, consumers now have tools that in many cases are more nimble and accessible than the communication tools that producers are using.

Web 1.0 was a destination. Documents simply moved to a new home, and “going online” was a process separate from anything else you did. However, as broadband access increases, the web becomes more pervasive and less a destination. The web becomes a platform that brings people, not documents, online to share information, consume information, and use it like any other tool.

Heterarchy: a system of organization replete with overlap, multiplicity, mixed ascendandacy and/or divergent but coextistent patterns of relation

Apomediation: mediation by agents not interposed between users and resources, who stand by to guide a consumer to high quality information without a role in the acquisition of the resources (i.e. Amazon product reviewers)

NEJM uses terms by users to add related searches to article search results. They also bump popular articles from searches up in the results as more people click on them. These tools improved their search results and reputation, all by using the people power of experts. In addition, they created a series of “results in” publications that highlight the popular articles.

It took a little over a year to get to a million Twitter authors, and about 600 years to get to the same number of book authors. And, these are literate, savvy users. Twitter & Facebook count for 1.45 million views of the New York Times (and this is a number from several years ago) — imagine what it can do for your scholarly publication. Oh, and NYT has a social media editor now.

Blogs are growing four times as fast as traditional media. The top ten media sites include blogs and the traditional media sources use blogs now as well. Blogs can be diverse or narrow, their coverage varies (and does not have to be immediate), they are verifiably accurate, and they are interactive. Blogs level that media playing field, in part by watching the watchdogs. Blogs tend to investigate more than the mainstream media.

It took AOL five times as long to get to twenty million users than it did for the iPhone. Consumers are increasingly adding “toys” to their collection of ways to get to digital/online content. When the NEJM went on the Kindle, more than just physicians subscribed. Getting content into easy to access places and on the “toys” that consumers use will increase your reach.

Print digests are struggling because they teeter on the brink of the daily divide. Why wait for the news to get stale, collected, and delivered a week/month/quarter/year later? People are transforming. Our audiences don’t think of information as analogue, delayed, isolated, tethered, etc. It has to evolve to something digital, immediate, integrated, and mobile.

From the Q&A session:

The article container will be here for a long time. Academics use the HTML version of the article, but the PDF (static) version is their security blanket and archival copy.

Where does the library as source of funds when the focus is more on the end users? Publishers are looking for other sources of income as library budgets are decreasing (i.e. Kindle, product differentiation, etc.). They are looking to other purchasing centers at institutions.

How do publishers establish the cost of these 2.0 products? It’s essentially what the market will bear, with some adjustments. Sustainability is a grim perspective. Flourishing is much more positive, and not necessarily any less realistic. Equity is not a concept that comes into pricing.

The people who bring the tremendous flow of information under control (i.e. offer filters) will be successful. One of our tasks is to make filters to help our users manage the flow of information.

Kindle 2 is kind of cool, actually

I’m not going to gush about how I fell in love with the device, because I didn’t.

My library (as in, the library where I work) has the good fortune of being blessed with both funds and leadership that allow us to experiment with some emerging technologies. When Amazon released the first version of the Kindle, we purchased one to experiment with. It was simply the latest in a long history of ebook readers that we had hoped to be able to incorporate into the library’s function on campus.

I took a turn at using the Kindle, and I was mightily unimpressed. The interface seemed very clunky, to the point of preventing me from getting into the book I tried to read. When the Kindle 2 was released and we received permission to purchase one, I was skeptical that it would be any better, but I still signed up for my turn at using it.

Last week, I was given the Kindle 2, and since it already had a book on it that I was half-way through reading, I figured I would start there. However, I was not highly motivated to make the time for it. Yesterday afternoon, I took the train up to DC, returning this morning. Four hours round trip, plus the extra time spent waiting at each station, gave me plenty of time to finish my book, so I brought the Kindle 2 with me.

I’m not going to gush about how I fell in love with the device, because I didn’t. However, I finished the book with ease before I arrived in DC, and out of shear boredom I pulled down a copy of another book that was already purchased on our library account. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to go from one book to another without having to lug along several selections from my library “just in case” I ran out of something to read.

Right now, I’m at least a third of the way in on the second book, and I plan to finish reading it on the Kindle 2.

I don’t think I’ll end up buying one anytime soon, particularly since I’ve put a stop to buying new books until I’ve read more of the ones I own. However, I have a better understanding of those Kindle enthusiasts who rave about having their entire library (and more) at their fingertips. It’s pretty handy if you’re someone who often has time to kill away from your library.