January 17, 2022

New Research Article: “The Perceived Impact of Ebooks on Student Reading Practices: A Local Study”

The following article (preprint) is scheduled for final publication in the May, 2015 issue of College and Research Libraries. 


The Perceived Impact of Ebooks on Student Reading Practices: A Local Study
32 pages; PDF.


Julie Gilbert
Gustavus Adolphus College

Barbara Fister
Gustavus Adolphus College


College and Research Libraries Web Site

From the Introduction

Like academic librarians everywhere, librarians at our institution are evaluating emerging ebook options for our collection. However, anecdotal information, bolstered by informal student surveys, has suggested that a significant number of our students prefer print books to ebooks.  For example, students enrolled in a course taught by one of the authors, Books and Culture, conducted surveys of fellow students. The most recent survey of 175 students, conducted in the first week of January 2013, found that between 5 and 6 percent of students would choose an ebook over a printed book, up from 3 to 4 percent two years earlier.

Since our library offers very few ebooks at this time, we found ourselves wondering how students saw themselves using ebooks if we added them to the collection.  In order to explore this question, we sought to understand first how students use library print books in order to see if use of the library’s print collection informed student perceptions of ebook use.  Would students prefer books read for pleasure electronically?  What about books used for research?  How do students imagine using ebooks might impact their research behavior?  In order to better understand whether and how our students might use ebooks if we were to add them to our collection, we conducted a study with the following questions in mind:

  • How do students currently use our current print collection for both research and recreational purposes?
  • How do students use ebooks for these purposes, if at all?
  • How do students predict the availability of ebooks in our collection might impact their research and recreational reading habits?

Direct to Full Text Article (32 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.