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E-book reading groups: interacting with e-books in public libraries

Landoni, M. and Hanlon, G. (2007) E-book reading groups: interacting with e-books in public libraries. Electronic Library, 25 (5). pp. 599-612. ISSN 0264-0473

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The purpose of this paper is to describe an experiment in introducing fiction e-books in two reading groups run by a public library. A user study involving two reading groups run over a period of three months. Electronic versions of titles of interest to each group were given out to each participant on Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs). Readers were then asked to fill in a satisfaction questionnaire and discuss their experience with the rest of their group. Readers were not too negative about using a new tool/gadget like the PDA but they did not see any advantage in reading an electronic version of the selected book. It was realised quite earlier on that the target readers were emotionally so attached to physical books to feel as if they were betraying them when reading them electronically. A different sample of users more inclined to use technology and more open to different publishing models would have possibly provided a better insight. The group reading approach introduced a social side to the adoption of e-books and it was hoped that that would have made a difference. It was also one of the first attempts to look into the use of fiction e-books in public libraries as opposed to an already existing number of studies looking into e-books and their use in education and academic libraries. As such it can benefit both publishers and librarians.