December 1, 2015

UC Libraries Ebook Usage Survey Shows Undergraduate Preference for Print

The University of California Libraries has released an ebook usage survey as part of its Springer ebook pilot project. The survey contains a lot of interesting information, but there is one point that was a bit striking as the  rush toward ebooks continues apace at all levels of education.

The survey found that 58 percent of the 2561 respondents use ebooks for their academic work. These respondents were then asked “When doing your academic work, do you generally prefer print books or e-books?”

Undergraduates, by far, had the highest preference for print books. Of the 273 undergraduate students asked the above question, 53 percent said they prefer print. They were followed by graduate students, faculty and lecturers, and postdoctoral researchers. The interesting point is that undergraduates explained their preference for print because they have difficulty “learning, retaining, and concentrating while in front of a computer.”

One respondent wrote: “Preference? Paper because it keeps me focused and away from distractions that may arise from computer usage.”

Another said: “Paper, ebooks divide my concentration.”

In attempting to measure the “complex dynamic” of the movement away from print, the survey’s conclusion highlighted “the undergraduate who prefers print books for reading and deep study because the computer presents too many distractions” as one of more unpredictable results.

Michael Kelley About Michael Kelley

Michael Kelley ( is the former Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal.

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