ebrary and EBL Data Study Sheds Light on Ebook Use

When it comes to ebooks, social sciences far outperform humanities and STM in the percentage of titles used and the average amount of use per book. However, users working with ebooks on STM subjects tend to be more active with their books in each session, downloading or printing content, etc. These are among the findings of new research from Michael Levine-Clark, Associate Dean for Scholarly Communication and Collections Services, University of Denver Libraries. Levine-Clark has completed an intensive examination of usage data supplied by ProQuest ebook businesses ebrary and EBL – Ebook Library. His findings are being presented at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia and form the foundation of ongoing study.

“This is a particularly enlightening study because it dispels the widely-held notion that STM ebooks get higher usage,” said Levine-Clark. “Data provided by leading aggregators now shows us the importance of ebooks to research in the social sciences.”

Levine-Clark’s research also revealed the importance of quality content to users and that they prefer titles from university presses to those from other publishers. “University press ebooks are used at a higher rate by all measures,” said Levine-Clark. “Users of ebooks appear to be making some judgment about quality.”

The data set from ebrary and EBL was anonymized and provided to Levine-Clark in the aggregate. Collected over the course of three to four years, the data encompassed more than 7,000 libraries and included more than a half-million titles. Within the data, Levine-Clark explored sessions and user activities, such as views, printing, copying and full-title downloads. His findings are being captured in a white paper that will be available on both the ebrary and EBL websites in March.

Levine-Clark’s presentation is Friday, January 24, 4:00pm, in room 203A of the Philadelphia Convention Center. The initial findings being presented are aimed at benchmarking usage trends. Subsequent analysis will dive further into key areas and identify patterns useful for libraries and consortia for local planning.