iCONN News

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ebooks Survey and what it says to librarians...

There's some interesting findings in the results of a survey (report in PDF format) on ebooks produced by the International Digital Publishing Forum.

(1) The survey notes that DRM restrictions on ebooks are seen as unfair by ebook purchasers, who are also appalled at having to pay more than they would pay for a paperback (for e-content that has no printing, shipping, distribution, or similar costs associated with it!)
(2) It shows how few ebook readers have used ebooks obtained from libraries (82% of the survey's sample had purchased an ebook in the past month but only 8% had borrowed one from a library). The sample, I should note, was solicited from the IDPF's website, from the IDPF email lists, and from the customers of 2 major eBook websites (ereader.com and fictionwise.com).
(3) It shows how important a full-featured, easy-to-use, non-frustrating web interface is to customers: (quoted from p. 5 of the IDPF report at http://www.idpf.org/doc_library/surveys/
Many features reached into the 90th percentile of satisfaction with “eBook retail site is easy to navigate”, “eBook retail site looks interesting, attractive and not too busy”, “eBook retail site offers a lot of information on eBook titles”, “ease of locating available titles”, “the shopping process is easy to understand and navigate”, “ease of downloading purchased titles”, “I can read in a comfortable font size”, and “improved convenience and portability over paper books” all showing that over 90% of respondents marked their level of satisfaction as “average” or above.)

Also, some comments from the survey-takers, as quoted from the report (p. 10):
“Improve the advanced searching functions. If I can't find what I'm after easily I just won't buy the eBook version, and I have less and less patience with poor searchability as the novelty of eBooks wears off. In particular, I want to be able to search for just a certain size of book (whether that be by classification such as Novel, or a minimum number of words), and I want to be able to set exclude terms.”

“Provide sample chapters, or at least snippets. Unless I am familiar with the author, I am unlikely to take a chance on a book where I can't at least get a feel for the writing style. One can browse paper books in a traditional bookstore to get this kind of information, so eBooks must have SOME similar capability.”

“One of the things that has greatly improved amazon.com is the ability to look 'inside' a book. See the cover, the title page and a few pages from the text. Otherwise it is very hard to decide to purchase a book.”

“More emphasis on description of content and less on 'cover-shots' which are of even less importance when purchasing e-books than normal books.”


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