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E‐textbooks usage by students at Andrews University: A study of attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors

Silas Marques de Oliveira (James White Library, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 19 October 2012




This study aims at identifying Andrews University's students' perceptions, behavior, use, and attitudes towards e‐textbook and e‐books in general.


In the Fall semester of 2001‐2012, Andrews University's bookstore offered 74 e‐textbooks for purchase. The teachers who had the opportunity of using these e‐textbooks for their classes were asked to distribute two questionnaires to their students: one to those who chose to buy and use the e‐textbook and a slightly different one to those who chose the traditional print textbook. The results were tabulated and compared to the results of similar studies since 2001.


A 65 percent return rate was obtained. Several findings closely replicate results of many studies on this area. For more than a decade, studies show that students prefer the hardcover book over the e‐book for their studies. Lack of awareness, not knowing how to get it, eyestrain, and difficulty of reading are the main culprits for students not using e‐books more often. However, those who use e‐books report they are generally satisfied. Students would like to enjoy fewer restrictions on printing and copying, PDA accessibility, more titles in their area of studies and better e‐book readers. They do not usually read e‐books cover to cover. The library is not their main point of entry or search for e‐books. Students value portability, instant access, light weight and ability to store large amounts of materials.

Research limitations/implications

The sample population was limited to the classes which had access to an e‐textbook. A broader and more complete understanding could have been obtained if the study included all of the student population. It is not possible to generalize the findings due to the fact that the study was done in a specific academic setting.

Practical implications

Universities and libraries are highly engaged in this topic at the present moment. Results of studies like this one will provide data useful for collection development policies and the pedagogy adopted by faculty in the classroom.

Social implications

This is a topic that is of increasing importance in all parts of the world, and is affecting how people and, more specifically, students read and learn. It has the potential of changing reading habits and how students absorb information and knowledge, as well as how they use libraries.


E‐books will have a definitive impact in new models of acquiring, accessing, and distributing information materials for and to the academic community. The paper will help the library better understand students' preferences and study habits which will have an impact on decisions regarding types of services it should provide and collection building decisions.



Marques de Oliveira, S. (2012), "E‐textbooks usage by students at Andrews University: A study of attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors", Library Management, Vol. 33 No. 8/9, pp. 536-560.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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