Electronic books usage preference

One question that I like to explore is how electronic books are currently being used by students and faculty in universities. Computer related books such as those from Safari and Books24x7 are heavily used but I also observe that if available in print they are always checked out. Many students have told me that they prefer a print copy even when that book was avilable electronically. Those books with chapters with large number of equations are preferred in print form as indicated by students. At this point, I had asked this question to about 15 students and atleast 8 of those preferred print, three preferred either print or electronic and four wanted them in the electronic form. Although not a large sample, such responses have motivated me to conduct a survey on a larger scale which plan to do sometime in Fall. Meanwhile, I will be thrilled to hear what type of preferences users have from your institutions. Reference type books such as handbooks, tables, those from Knovel/ENGnetBASE/REFEREX are preferred electronically and are very heavily used at Drexel. Your responses are greatly appreciated.


Although our library makes a number of e-books available, particulary on computer topics, patrons who want to use the book to teach themselves prefer paper. (Based on about five encounters).

For looking up facts or brief overviews, people prefer e-books because they let you do an "inside the book" search, so you can go directly to what you're looking for.

One personal example I can cite is that if I want just the conclusions of a government report, I prefer the electronic version. But if I'm interested in reading the entire report (which DOES happen), then I greatly prefer print. Ideally, one would always have a choice of format, since different formats do different jobs.

Thanks for the question. I hope you hear from many others.