Members of the E-books Research Group, Annika Bergström and Lars Höglund from the University of Gothenburg together with Tom Wilson and Elena Maceviciute from the University of Borås took part in the seminar arranged by the Swedish School of Library and Information Science at the Book and Library Fair, at the Digital Market (Digitala Torget) on Thursday, September 24 at 14:00.
Annika Bergström presented the results of the SOM (Swedish Opinion and Media) Institute survey about the readers of Swedish e-books. The survey shows that slightly more men than women are reading e-books in Sweden, which is the reverse of reading printed books. E-book reading diminishes with age and senior readers read fewer e-books, while the youngest group reads most. E-book reading also relates to the higher education level and access to tablet computers and e-readers. However, the survey shows clearly that e-books are read most by those who read printed books most frequently. There are very few e-book readers among those who do not read printed books.
The survey also shows that printed books are considered to be best for most tasks that books are used for: reading for children, reading in bed, sharing with others, reading while commuting, even having a wide choice. E-books are better in only one respect; when readers want quick access to the text.
Tom Wilson presented the results of the surveys of publishers, public libraries and academic libraries showing how differently the common problems affect different actors. The low demand for e-books increases uncertainty for the publishers, who do not dare invest larger sums in new technology without some assurance of return on investment. The libraries also face uncertainty in providing access to an expensive resource when they are unable to predict the demand. But the results of the research also show that the publicity and the removal of limitations to e-book access increases the demand quite significantly in a short time. The fears and expectations of the worst outcomes expressed by many respondents seem to be the most significant hindrance for realising the potential of e-books.
At the end of the presentations the listeners were invited to the stand of the Swedish School of Library and Information Science to participate in the questions-answers session. Lars Höglund and Elena Maceviciute answered questions about the possible growth in demand for e-books, the consequences of their use in education, and future perspectives of e-books.
The slide show is available at SlideShare– the first part is in Swedish but, as it is composed mainly of charts, readers should be able to figure it out.