Wednesday, September 19, 2007

National experiment about the impact of e-books on student learning and publishing sales

JISC has funded a collection of e-books that will be freely available to students in all UK universities.

The aim of the JISC national e-books observatory project is to gather much needed evidence:

* Evidence for publishers about the impact of e-books on traditional print sales to students
* Evidence for publishers about how to create exciting e-books that will engage the digital native
* Evidence for publishers and libraries about the pricing models for the future
* Evidence for libraries about how to promote the use of e-books

The e-books, chosen, include some of the most popular texts in Business and Management Studies, Medicine, Engineering and Media Studies.

JISC is funding CIBER1 to study just what happens when these books are freely available to students. How will they find them? Will they use them? Will the e-books impact on their learning? Will medical students behave differently to Media Studies students? Will the Business and Management students stop buying from the bookshops? Will Engineering students use the e-books more or less than the other groups?

Publishers are collaborating by providing these e-books via Ingram Digital Group’s MyiLibrary platform and the Books@Ovid platform. Funding by JISC enables these publishers to experiment in a managed environment and mitigates any risk of revenue loss.

Dr Hazel Woodward, University Librarian at Cranfield University, and chair of the JISC national e-books observatory project’s advisory board, said: ‘e-books have enormous potential as a resource for students. But it’s fair to say that that potential has so far been untapped. The project will we hope have a major impact on the e-book publishing market and in time on libraries across the UK as they struggle to keep up with demand for taught course texts. We hope that university libraries will all become involved in this innovative and exciting project as they as well as publishers have a great deal to gain.’

Robert Kimberley of Wolters Kluwer Health, one of the publishers to have submitted e-books for the project, welcomed its launch, saying: ‘We are delighted to be a part of this important project. Its commitment to increasing our understanding of the use of e-books is something that is especially welcome to us and Wolters Kluwer is looking forward to seeing its e-books used in such far-reaching and innovative ways and for the long-term benefit of libraries, users and publishers.’

James Gray at MyiLibrary said that this ‘information will provide a considerable evidence base to help inform our decisions about the construction of e-books, their promotion to the community, to suggest how disciplinary differences might impact on their use. We hope this evidence base will also be of immense importance to university lecturers and librarians in their efforts to make available core reading list e-books that support HE taught course students.’

For further information on the e-books now available to all universities, please go to


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