The following article was recently published in the Insights: UKSG Journal.
Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
Insights: UKSG Journal
Vol. 30, No.3
Why do many students still prefer paper books to e-books? This article summarizes a number of problems with e-books mentioned in different studies by students of higher education, but it also discusses some of the unexploited possibilities with e-books. Problems that students experience with e-books include eye strain, distractions, a lack of overview, inadequate navigation features and insufficient annotation and highlighting functionality. They also find it unnecessarily complicated to download DRM-protected e-books. Some of these problems can be solved by using a more suitable device. For example, a mobile device that can be held in a book-like position reduces eye strain, while a device with a bigger screen provides a better overview of the text. Other problems can be avoided by choosing a more usable reading application. Unfortunately, that is not always possible, since DRM protection entails a restriction of what devices and applications you can choose. Until there is a solution to these problems, I think libraries will need to purchase both print and electronic books, and should always opt for the DRM-free alternative. We should also offer students training on how to find, download and read e-books as well as how to use different devices.
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