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Research by ebrary indicates that the majority of library users, in the field of academic or otherwise has knowledge of the eBooks existence and has used them at least once. Studies by Heifer in 2007 based on Springer 2007 statistics indicate a growing trend of preference to use EBooks, there is a rise in an increase of accessing electronic books almost equal to the previous phenomena increase in viewing online journals; Springer ranks amongst top supplier of e-books in PDF format. According to another study by Heifer, 2008 on perceptions of EBooks and their adaptations, he found out that out of the five institutions used as respondents, majority of 84% had information of their existence and a relatively high number of 58% had accessed them at least once. One respondent institution, Turku University had 84% library user awareness and a 73% access. The 2008 survey also indicates that users perceive a difficulty in using EBooks and recommends the elimination of the same through making access easier. However, the respondents had not accessed the books exclusively through their library but other sources. This indicates users do not perceive the library as a complete hub for accessing electronic books (Helfer 2000).
Ebrary studies in 2007 and 2008 study involving 150 librarians and students from Italy, Canada and USA indicates that knowledge of e-books is widespread. The study’s results support others indicating that library users perceive EBooks as purely for research and studwork, as opposed to leisure, teaching or other aspects. It follows that organizational libraries other than academic ones are likely to have low usage of EBooks. Hard copies enjoy preference for leisure and teaching purposes. According to a study conducted in Arizona State University, 2007, the faculty indicated non-satisfaction with electronic books. There was a quotation of a number of shortcomings such as leaning curves of various interfaces, lack of ability for manipulation and access unreliability among others. The faculty in universities uses the electronic books from the library of 53% for research, 65% for lecture preparation, 56% for research on academic fields and 42% for student encouragements. The student motivation aspect is in accordance with the diffusion theory; there is evidence that a small group adopts a change first before the others. Generally, faculty view EBooks as tedious, unreliable and not applicable for student assignments (Lynch 2000).
The studies also indicate that faculty and academicians do not use an electronic book entirely. This is also likened to student user perception that electronic books must require complementation from hard copies, they perceive the EBooks as not fully sufficient for the academic purposes apart from extensive research. Users at Indiana University also perceive EBooks as challenging to read for long, hard to navigate through and also to download and send. Student users in either universities or organization employees furthering their studies perceive EBooks as less useful without ease of usage. Majority of studies indicate only a third of responding student library user’s preference for EBooks. Studies in the University of Malaya indicate that 81% preferred hard copies in comparison to electronic books. The above studies seem to conclude that the highly educated library user recommends the usage of EBooks to the high-educated class end, probably because these classes can sieve through quantity and detect quality (Breitzer & Fritz 2000).
When a library decides to choose request an offer of EBooks, the books are in the contemplation that they meet certain criteria and ultimately fulfill the customers’ needs. The library must choose the supplier and vendor of such material wisely. This is so because individual vendors or suppliers come with specific terms and policies, which may impose some usage restriction or impose more costs. Research indicates vast number of participants in electronic books market. This stakeholders and participants include supply chain specialist of printed books, established vendors such as Swets, Dawsonera (Dawsons) and MyiLibrary (Coutts). Others include aggregator’s e.g. EBSCO, who provide online content and who recently acquired EBook platform NetLibrary, specialists such as EBL, Overdrive, Bloomsbury and ebrary. There are also online suppliers and EBook specialists, this include online retailers Amazon and booksellers in high streets such as WH Smith and Waterstones. Comparison between private vendors such as Amazon who are gaining popularity and library vendors such as Safari and MyiLibrary becomes critical in settling at the vendor offering convenience, low costs and the best value (Easingwood et al.1983)