Well it appears from some of the research I’ve been doing on the topic of eBooks that it’s not just those that have grown up with books that prefer reading them in print format.  Our divisional library consultant, Nell Ududec, just returned from the OLA conference in Toronto with a PowerPoint presentation by Peter Jones who is a visiting scholar from Ohio currently working at the University of Toronto. 

Combining research from surveys, user interaction and observation, and design research,  Jones has just completed a report for the University of Toronto on eBooks (final approval due out this week) that has tried to answer the following questions:

  • What do students prefer to read and use, and why?
  • Are students actually reading the books?
  • Are they reading online?
  • How do they want publishers to improve eBooks?

From what I understand from reading the presentation (wish I had been there in person to hear the details), eBooks have a ways to go for anyone doing research – young or old – an experienced scholor or not.  Although students have a positive expectation for eBooks (they don’t have to go to the stacks), not finding the information they’re looking for, difficulty reading the text, searching and printing more often than not leaves them feeling frustrated.

It appears that very little eBook reading is currently taking place.  As someone who loves to curl up with a good book or carry it with me everywhere I go, I can relate to the “coldness” and poor resolution of eBooks.  It appears that I am not the only one who has difficulty “deep reading” books in an electronic format.  If I can’t concentrate, how will my junior high students be able to concentrate for long periods of time to actually read an entire book.  And if they’re just interested in gleaming facts from a book, no doubt a Google search or their favorite database will provide the answers they need just as quickly. 

Until eBooks become more than scanned books, I’m not sure my students nor I are ready for them quite yet.  I’m not quite ready to throw my precious book budget at eBooks just yet.  If anyone has a different opinion on this topic, I’d love to hear your thoughts.