April 10, 2012
Pew Interent to Research the Changing Landscape of Library Services in First Comprehensive Examination of Reading Habits Since the Rise of eBooks
Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project is conducting the frist comprehensive examination of the reading habits of the general population in the digital era since eBooks came into prominence. The first installment in this Gates Foundation-funded research was pubished in a report dated April 5, 2012. Titled, "The rise of e-reading," Pew reports on the findings of its survey results in detail. The report can be downloaded in PDF here and can be viewed online here.
Key findings include:
- A fifth of American adults have read an e-book in the past year and the number of e-book readers grew after a major increase in ownership of e-book reading devices and tablet computers during the holiday gift-giving season.
- The average reader of e-books says she has read 24 books (the mean number) in the past 12 months, compared with an average of 15 books by a non-e-book consumer.
- 30% of those who read e-content say they now spend more time reading, and owners of tablets and e-book readers particularly stand out as reading more now.
- The prevalence of e-book reading is markedly growing, but printed books still dominate the world of book readers.
- E-book reading happens across an array of devices, including smartphones.
- In a head-to-head competition, people prefer e-books to printed books when they want speedy access and portability, but print wins out when people are reading to children and sharing books with others.
The Role of Commercial eBooks in Public Libraries. "The rise of e-reading" report is part of the first phase of Pew's research project. "Subsequent reports will cover how librarians and patrons perceive the situation with e-books and other digital content, and how people in different kinds of communities (urban, suburban, and rural) compare in their reading habits. Further down the line, this research will cover the changing landscape of library services."
Later in this first phase of the work, we will survey librarians and library patrons about the role of e-books in libraries. In the second phase of the work later in 2012, we will conduct focus groups with librarians and patrons about the changing scope of services being offered and being contemplated in libraries. We will supplement that work with a national survey of the general public about the evolving role of libraries in communities. In the third phase of the work in 2013, we will conduct a large national survey of library users and non-users.
Once completed, I think Pew's research will provide an empirical foundation for public libraries and the trade publishing industry which may be useful to move forward. Certainly ALA's promise to detailed circulation data to the general trade industry may help those publishers who do not offer eBooks for lending by providing some information for crafting a pricing matrix. Pew's research could put that specific issue in a broader context.
The Changing Landscape of Law Library Services Because of Commercial Enhanced Law eBooks. I do not believe Pew's research will attempt to isolate the use of specialized eBooks by professionals in the context of work-related needs. However, I believe legal information professionals, institutional and individual consumers of professional eBooks may find the findings of Pew's research studies useful albeit not directly on point.
We are not yet at the stage where our vendors' enhanced law eBooks has risen to the prominence seen in general trade titles. That's because our vendors have been behind the curve in bringing to market this new form of publication where the e in eBooks stands for enhanced. But they are catching up and are beginning to compete with each other; enhanced law eBooks are here.
Our major vendors target the private sector first because that is where the $$$ is. That's why on my schedule of possible programs to attend at Boston 2012, one of the few sessions I marked with a check mark instead of a question mark is Law Firm Libraries: Your E-book Future Has Arrived, (Monday July 23, 2012 1:15pm - 2:15pm at HCC-Room 306) Organizers and presenters include two large law firm librarians and representatives from Thomson Reuters and Lexis.
This a session I hope all law library market sector buying representatives consider attending. I seriously doubt the organizers intended to exclude the "rest of us." It is just that firm libraries will be the first adopters of enhanced law eBooks. The rest of us will benefit now and in the future from the law firm perspective.
Quoting from this program's description:
Visions of attorneys waving their Kindles and iPads in front of our faces demanding e-books have begun to haunt our dreams. So many questions come to mind: What will the functionality be like? How will updates work? Will our attorneys want both print and e-book, and what will that do to our budgets? What happens when an attorney leaves, along with e-book content paid for by the firm? A panel of two firm librarians who have conducted e-book trials, and two vendors will talk about the experience, as well as what vendors are doing with regard to functionality, pricing, and administration.