As technology has developed over the years, electronic books have risen in prominence in the literary field, threatening to supplant print books as the primary medium for reading and having an immense influence on people’s reading habits. However, printed books have been around for thousands of years and have shown staying power even with the advent of E-Books as a medium. We were therefore interested to know the current landscape of user preferences concerning electronic versus printed reading materials and dig out the reasons behind user preferences. With some research we were hoping to estimate whether print books would exist as a medium in the long term. While we initially considered restricting our study to an academic field, we decided to expand our research to include the general public in order to gain a fuller understanding of how these preferences may differ depending on age group and socioeconomic status.
Prior research on this topic has consistently found that e-books are not in a position to replace print books, a situation which holds true overall and on an individual scale- i.e. the majority of people who make use of e-books also read printed materials, and although many people have been engaging with electronic reading materials more often, very few forego printed material entirely. (Kudva & Zhang, 2013) Earlier research focused upon the study habits of college students has also suggested that in spite of familiarity with the technology inherent to e-books, they still maintain a large preference for printed materials in their learning. (Woody et al., 2010)
As we read about past research conducted on this subject and pondered what different aspects of people’s identities and lifestyles may affect their preferences for electronic or printed reading materials, we devised several questions that we were hoping to answer through our own research:
The target population of this project were initially academics including Professors, doctoral students, Graduates and undergraduates. Since this is a broad study between the usage of e-readers and print books, we decided to extend the scope of the study to include avid readers who regularly visit libraries to eliminate any bias that might arise due to age, social status or familiarity with technology. Our sample size was 43 graduate students.
We utilized a questionnaire of 22-26 questions (varying between the online and physical copies of the questionnaires we distributed) to collect data from our subjects. Due to our subject matter, we divided our questionnaire into an online format and a print format so as to ensure we get unbiased results from people who may have a preference for print or may prefer electronic mediums.
Based on the data collected from both sets of questionnaires, our team went ahead to analyze it and to answer the research questions. For the purpose of this paper we analyze the data according to the research questions posed by us in their respective order. As discussed earlier our questions cover the following topics, Demographics, Ease of access, familiarity and subject being read.
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