Monthly Archives: June 2015

Our literature reviews for Books Right Here Right Now

As a major part of the Books Right Here Right Now project we have been carrying out a literature review to understand all the issues and inform the primary research we are undertaking with our students and academic colleagues.

3011441301_14e0fbcbf7_bSix main themes were investigated in this literature review:

  • Identification of core texts
  • E-book pilots
  • Reading behaviour
  • Purchasing procedures
  • Reading strategy
  • Technology and facilitation of access

In the first instance keywords to be used for searching were identified for each of these themes, with input from relevant staff on the project group. The agreed keywords were then used to search on a number of pre-determined sources, including databases such as Library and Information Science Abstracts (LISA), ERIC, Emerald and Factiva as well as mailing lists such as LIS-E-BOOKS and LIS-ERESOURCES.

As many of the themes related to current developments in academic libraries, publishing or technology, and the project is focused on the future, the literature review was limited to the retrieval of content from 2009 to the present day.

In total just over 50 items of literature were identified using the methodology outlined above. To present the results of the literature review, findings were grouped into the following themes:

  • Reading behaviour (understanding student preferences for and perceptions of e-books)
  • Reading behaviour (online reading versus print; device choice)
  • Discovery (reading lists; information seeking behaviour)
  • Innovation (new ways of purchasing e-book pilots; new ways of content delivery)
  • The future (predictions; sustainability)

Each of these themes was taken in turn and any items from the literature search that fitted under these themes were identified by reading the title and abstract. For each piece of literature the aim was to extract key findings, key statistics, leading exponents and any implications or recommendations for The University of Manchester Library. Sometimes items of literature made reference to other studies that had taken place. When it was clear that these references fitted well into the themes of the literature review, they were consulted, analysed and also included in findings alongside the other articles.

To finish off, once the key information had been extracted from the literature and matched to an appropriate theme, it was then incorporated into a series of slides on Slideshare to give a visual representation of the findings.

We will share these findings via this blog over the coming months.

photo credit: stats via photopin (license)

‘What the students told us’: a VitalSource/ Plymouth University case study


As the largest UK supplier of e-textbooks, with more than 51,000 users, VitalSource prioritises staying close to students.  In addition to regularly holding student panels, we’ve developed a case study with Plymouth University, reporting reactions to their institution-wide digital textbook programme.  They wanted every student to have access to essential course content, regardless of their financial situation, so they supplied more than 4000 students with digital access to all required titles.


Plymouth achieved exceptionally high levels of awareness and approval for the project.  Their survey showed that 82% of students used their eTextbook online or downloaded it onto at least one device.

Of course, there was a small group of students that hadn’t used their e-textbooks. Reassuringly for institutions rolling out digital content, only one of them said this was because they didn’t want them. The vast majority simply needed more communication. 92% of those agreed that the programme was a good idea. Feedback echoed our student panels, welcoming the convenience and the opportunity to save money:

“… fewer books to pay for. E-books are always there when you need them…”

The student responses also challenged the perception that reading onscreen is problematic.  More than 70% of those using e-textbooks found them easy to read. This may have included students with print-related disabilities, for whom e-textbooks offer a significantly improved and inclusive experience. The ability to search for keywords was seen as an advantage and an encouragement to read around a subject.

A similar number of students stated that the programme had made it easier to carry out their recommended reading:

“it motivated me to do more reading”

E-textbooks freed them from the cost and ‘hassle’ of getting hold of their course books, and the delay of waiting for library copies, meaning they could organise their time better and learn more efficiently.

“I could just go on my phone and find the information that I needed.”

During focus group sessions, several students acknowledged that they had been nervous at the outset of the project and might have preferred print, given the choice.  This was particularly the case for first year students who were overwhelmed by the transition to university. However, once they got started, they found e-textbooks straightforward to use and download.  They loved the fact that they could link to their own copy of the book from the VLE. Practical advantages of digital, such as portability, any-time access and the ability to search, copy and paste outweighed any nostalgia for print.

Students were also appreciative of the ways in which their lecturers were using e-textbooks to add to the learning experience, for example by including references in teaching material or using the ‘Share Notes’ feature, which allows lecturers to add their own notes and highlights to e-textbooks and share them with their students.

Asked whether they would like e-textbooks next year, the focus group responded with a resounding “Yes!”.

To request the full case study contact

Becky Hartnup, Ingram Content