The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) national e-books observatory project in the UK began in 2007 and since then the committee has been working to explore the impacts, observe the behaviors, and develop new models to stimulate the e-book market. Earlier this month, the JISC released the results of their first user survey which was circulated to 127 higher education libraries and included more than 20,000 responses. The portions of the survey of particular significance to college stores include: the interest level for e-books and e-book purchasing intentions. The results of the survey show that there is a high level of interest in e-books with more than 60% of the academic population already using e-books. When reviewing the results by gender, age group, and level of study, men and postgraduates were more likely to use e-books and there was no significant difference among age groups. However, when it comes to purchasing e-books, students purchasing intentions are low. Only 4.6% of students actually paid for the book, while 45.3% got it from the university library, and 43.5% accessed it free off the internet.
Last week at the London Book Fair, the JISC discussed the initial results from their observatory project which provided UK university students with free access to 36 science, technology, and medical e-textbooks for two years. The results of the study show that giving students access to the e-texts did not have an effect on print sales and e-textbook usage was strong across all age groups. The study also revealed the current challenges with e-books including: students and administrators dislike for DRM restrictions and their dissatisfaction with the current purchasing model for e-books. The full report will be released in June and the results will be shared with participating publishers and academic institutions in an effort to help the market develop, and to help target the current pricing and licensing issues for e-books.