Report: Academic Library eBook Usage Surging

Interesting post from The Distant Librarian (Paul Pival) summarizing a talk by Ellan Safley of Univ. Texas, Dallas. Some sound-bites:

Usage is exploding–Similar to the e-journal usage 5 years ago.
… the top-circulating ebook was ‘checked out’ 47 times in a month, and the top print book was 1.4 times.
…while UTD librarians reported that lots of people didn’t like NetLibrary, it has shown a steady increase in usage since 1999, and Ellen suggested that librarian perceptions were muddying the picture. Since they often dealt with the password and printing problems with NetLibrary, they assumed the product was no good and nobody liked it, but the statistics suggest otherwise.
…Similarly, ebarary statistics showed a 129% increase from year 1 to year 2.

Obviously e-journals have “crossed the chasm”; Elsevier says that almost all their subscriptions include online and that “e-only” digital distribution sans print edition is now more than 50% of their revenue. So if eBook adoption in academia is really headed in a similar direction, that would represent a very promising sign for the industry as a whole.
And while adoption in a single university doesn’t necessarily indicate a broad trend, we’re talking about Dallas, Texas, not some progressive coastal enclave of iPod-toting hipsters. While it may be UTD’s cross-town rival that’s favored to host the next Presidential Library, if Dallas students are shifting from “look it up in your gut” to “look it up in an eBook”, it’s hard to imagine that the “factinistas” of other institutions will be far behind.

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