May 27, 2022

Research Article: “Academic E-book Usability From the Student’s Perspective”

The following article was recently published by Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP).


Academic E-book Usability From the Student’s Perspective

Esta Tovstiadi
SUNY Potsdam

Natalia Tingle
University of Colorado Boulder

Gabrielle Wiersma
University of Colorado Boulder


Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP)
Vol 13 No 4
DOI: 10.18438/eblip29457


This article describes how librarians systematically compared different e-book platforms to identify which features and design impact usability and user satisfaction.

This study employed task-based usability testing, including the “think-aloud protocol.” Students at the University of Colorado Boulder completed a series of typical tasks to compare the usability and measure user satisfaction with academic e-books. For each title, five students completed the tasks on three e-book platforms: the publisher platform and two aggregators. Thirty-five students evaluated seven titles on nine academic e-book platforms.

This study identified each platform’s strengths and weaknesses based on students’ experiences and preferences. The usability tests indicated that students preferred Ebook Central over EBSCO and strongly preferred the aggregators over publisher platforms.

Librarians can use student expectations and preferences to guide e-book purchasing decisions. Preferences may vary by institution, but variations in e-book layout and functionality impact students’ ability to successfully complete tasks and influences their affinity for or satisfaction with any given platform. Usability testing is a useful tool for gauging user expectations and identifying preferences for features, functionality, and layout.

Direct to Full Text Article (18 pages; PDF)

Direct to Full Text Article (HTML)

Direct to Complete TOC: Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP) (13.4; 2018)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.