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Tuesday, 20 September 2016


By: Desmond Beharilal
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The introduction of e-books was regarded as a major breakthrough for libraries and a great innovation from publishers.

Universities were quick to buy into the new technology for various reasons which included cost savings, space savings, and keeping up with the trends of modern libraries, yet, ignoring the calls from local users who were “not ready” to adapt to the new reading formats.

After reading the following article on the current situation regarding the usage of e-books, my curiosity about whether we at UKZN should so actively pursue the purchase of e-books was aroused.

Please read the following article and answer the questions at the end of the article:

Pew Report: Overall Book Readership Holding Steady, but E-Books Have Stalled

By Andrew Albanese  

Sep 01, 2016 

Despite competition from an ever-increasing menu of entertainment choices now available to Americans, book readership in America is holding steady, according to a new survey. And most of the book readers surveyed, the report found, prefer to read print books.

The report “Book Readership 2016,” released this week by the Pew Research Centre found that 73% of Americans have read a book in the last year, a percentage largely unchanged from 2012 levels (although lower than the 79% recorded in 2011, when Pew began tracking reading habits).

 The Pew Research Centre is a nonpartisan American "fact tank" which is based in Washington, D.C. It provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends shaping the United States and the world. It also conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis, and other empirical social science research.

Among the survey’s most notable findings are: reading of e-books has hit a plateau. After posting an 11 percentage point jump between 2011-2014 (from 17% to 28%), e-book readership has seen no change in the last two years. Overall, 28% of Americans reported reading an e-book in the last year.

On the other hand, roughly two-thirds of Americans (65%) reported reading a print book in the last year, identical to the share of Americans who reported doing so in 2012. Notably, just 6% of respondents said they read e-books exclusively, while 38% said they are print-only readers.

Despite finding a plateau in e-book readership, the survey found that how readers are accessing e-books has changed significantly. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of Americans who reported reading an e-book on a tablet increased nearly fourfold (from 4% to 15%), while smartphone reading more than doubled (from 5% to 13%).

Just 8% of Americans said they used a dedicated e-reader, roughly unchanged from 2012 levels.

The survey also found a modest bump among audiobook listeners. While the market for digital audio has been cited as a bright spot for publishers in recent years, the report found that the share of American adults who listen to audiobooks has risen only marginally. In 2011, 11% of Americans reported listening to an audiobook in the last year, compared with 14% now.

The report was drawn from a national sample of 1,520 American adults (18 years or older) surveyed by the Pew Research Centre between March 7 and April 4, 2016, with 381 respondents interviewed on a landline telephone, and 1,139 interviewed on a cell phone.

Please answer the following questions:

1)      Should UKZN Libraries focus on promoting the e-publication format?  YES/NO

2)      Should UKZN libraries be purchasing more e-publications? YES/NO

You are most welcome to make further comments.

Thank you

Desmond Beharilal


 Albanese, A. (2016) Pew Report: Overall Book Readership Holding Steady, but E-Books Have Stalled, 20 September, 2016, http://www.publishersweekly.com