The usefulness of an e-reader as a portable reader and connected device Print E-mail
By Wilma Kurvink   


Trial conditions

We intended to test the ereader as a working substitute for hard copy books, and to take full advantage of the potential for delivering multiple titles of books and articles to the single device. We required all participants to be committed readers, so as to test the device for acceptance by readers who had long-established preferences for reading of books for information and pleasure, and who had a loyalty to the hardcopy format. From there, the other requirement was to deliver the ereader with titles as requested by the reader, emulating a service already being delivered by the library.
The following research questions guided the trial:

Research questions

Strand One; the research questions on reading and readers

How significant to the reader is the portability of many texts on an ereader?
What is gained and what is lost in the ereader experience?
What are the motivations for owning books and texts?
What are the motivations for reading?
What feelings play a role in exploring a new personal device for an activity with a traditional format (book)?

Strand Two; research questions for library acquisition and management

How are etexts purchased?
How are etexts managed?
How are etexts distributed once purchased?
What are the restrictions of DRM?
How are ereaders affected by the restrictions of DRM? 

Strand Three; contextual factors

How is the publishing industry preparing for the distribution of etexts?
What changes to distribution are envisaged?
How will content be affected by etexts?
What scope is there for working with textbook publishers and the delivery of etext books?


  1. Quantitative survey data (interpreting data in numerical form relating to actual use of the reader and measuring the satisfaction with both reading experience and ereader as a device)
  2. Qualitative – determining attitudes, motivations and affective qualities of readers via interviews (recorded)
  3. Testing for technical delivery (project management)
  4. Research, meetings and interviews with suppliers and publishers. 

Quantitative survey data

  • using surveys and entering data in 'Surveymonkey', generating comparative data and converting into graphs and statistics 

Qualitative; Interviews and questionnaire

  • To investigate our trial participants use of the ereader
  • Explore beliefs and feelings about the ereader with trial participants
  • To document actions taken with ereader by the trial participants
  • To document responses to the ereader and etext

Testing for technical delivery; project management

  • Identifying all elements required for successful delivery
  • Identifying all technical problems and issues
  • Solving delivery issues to the ereader
  • Identifying sources for etext and related content
  • Identifying and evaluating the changes required to library systems (catalogue and acquisition, delivery systems).