May 19, 2022

Research Article: “How Usable are E-books? User Testing E-Books at an Academic Library”

The following article appears in the latest issue of Weave: Journal of Library User Experience.


How Usable are E-books? User Testing E-Books at an Academic Library


David Comeaux
Louisiana Sate University

Emily Frank
LOUIS: the Louisiana Library Network


Volume 3, Issue 1, 2020
DOI: 10.3998/weave.12535642.0003.101


Over recent years, Louisiana State University (LSU) Libraries, like many others, has targeted collections spending to invest in e-books. We designed this study to better understand barriers to use and frustrations students encounter using e-books and to explore gaps in the field. While numerous studies have reported on usage analysis or survey results, few have employed usability testing to directly observe students interacting with e-books. This article reports on the findings of a series of usability tests conducted on four e-book platforms: SpringerLink, Project MUSE, Taylor & Francis, and JSTOR. We employed convenience sampling to recruit participants and a prompted think-aloud protocol to observe participants as they searched an e-book for information. The results revealed features that were helpful or sought by student users and those that created barriers in the user experience.

Direct to Full Text Article

Direct to Weave (Vol. 3 Issue 1) Table of Contents

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.