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Why digital goods have not replaced traditional goods: the case of e-books

Jongbum Kim (KAIST, Daejeon, Korea)
Jeonghun Seo (KIDA, Seoul, Korea)
Hangjung Zo (KAIST, Daejeon, Korea)
Hwansoo Lee (Dankook University, Yongin, Korea)

Journal of Enterprise Information Management

ISSN: 1741-0398

Article publication date: 22 May 2020

Issue publication date: 12 April 2021



Electronic books (e-books) have been in the market for decades but have been unable to replace paper books. Previous studies on e-books have failed to identify significant factors affecting the adoption and diffusion of e-books. This study develops a theoretical framework to explain the adoption behavior of e-books from the perspective of user resistance.


After a pilot test with 50 e-book users, the research model is validated using a partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) technique. A web-based survey method is used to collect data from a sample of 350 people – selected from Korean e-book users and nonusers – during a week in March 2017. This study tests the reliability and validity of the integrated model of planned behavior and resistance theory and tests the hypotheses with bootstrapping resampling.


The results show that four barriers – usage, value, risk and image – cause resistance to change and users with higher resistance have lower intention to use. The moderating effect of self-efficacy between resistance to change and intention to use is confirmed. Self-efficacy interacts not only with the encouraging factors but also with resistance.


This study expands the understanding of users' adoption behavior of e-books by examining inhibiting factors using a novel integrated model. The findings of this research provide insights for digital product providers, especially e-book publishers, to understand why digital products have not been successful in the marketplace.



The present research was supported by the research fund of Dankook University in 2019.


Kim, J., Seo, J., Zo, H. and Lee, H. (2021), "Why digital goods have not replaced traditional goods: the case of e-books", Journal of Enterprise Information Management, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 793-810.



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