Exploring e-Book Adopters’ Resistance to Giving Up Paper

By Joanne Elemae McNeish, Mary Foster, Anthony Francescucci and Bettina West.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In 2006, Amazon and its competitors ushered in an era of devices that offered a functionally better reading experience than any device before them. Yet, the debate around the continued requirement for the paper book rages on. The dominant belief is that young adults who grew up with computers, tablets, and internet access would embrace e-books for learning. Most university students continue to prefer paper textbooks. Missing from research to date is an exploration of the e-book adopters’ resistance to discontinuing paper textbooks even if they adopt e-textbooks. Data from open-ended questions and focus groups with university students is analyzed to elucidate the characteristics that make students resistant to completely replace paper textbooks with e-textbooks. We suggest that the e-content developer and publisher are misunderstanding how students use information to achieve academic success. It is our contention that the current limitations of e-textbooks and digital content restrict their role to supplementing the paper-based studying and learning process that is necessary for academic success. One could argue that students’ resistance to giving up paper is consistent with the typical reaction of existing market to a disruptive technology. If the acquisition and understanding of a pre-defined set of knowledge continues to be necessary for academic success, then traditional methods of studying and learning may continue to be students’ preferred choice. If the “disruptive technology” is a new view of academic knowledge as fleeting and ever changing, then students may not need to attach it to paper, or to their minds.

Keywords: Paper Textbooks, e-Textbooks, Value of Information, Simultaneous Use

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp.23-35. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 274.906KB).

Dr. Joanne Elemae McNeish

Assistant Professor, Marketing, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON, Canada

Dr. Joanne McNeish is Assistant Professor, Marketing at Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University. She is a MRIA Fellow, a honour given to those who have made distinguished contribution to marketing research in Canada. Her research focuses on the behaviour of simultaneous users, and identifying the factors that make an existing technology resilient in the face of its replacement innovation. Recent articles have been published in the Journal for the Advancement of Marketing Education, International Journal of Technology Marketing and International Journal of Bank Marketing.

Mary Foster

Professor of Marketing, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada

Anthony Francescucci

Assistant Professor, Marketing, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada

Bettina West

Associate Professor, Marketing, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada


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