The Future of eBooks? Will Print disappear? An End-User Perspective


  • Olaf Ernst
  • Wouter van der Velde



Ebooks, usage, print books, cannibalisation, DDC: 020 (Library and information sciences)


Purpose: Ebooks are a hot topic. Traditional book publishing, especially in the academic world, is changing at a rapid pace. The question on everybody's mind is what direction book publishing will take? Will print survive in the Google-generation, or is it destined to be totally replaced by eBooks? Springer publishes over 4000 book titles annually, which are converted into eBooks almost without exception. Being the market leader and innovator of a new business model in electronic books in the STM area, Springer has conducted a study on the implications of the Springer eBook collection in comparison to its print book activities. The main purpose is to find out whether eBooks are cannibalizing print books, as well as an assessment of factors that are influencing eBook usage. Design/methodology/approach: This study is based upon interviews with both end-users and librarians. And in addition, Springer has assessed the (COUNTER compliant) usage statistics from SpringerLink. Findings: Overall, Springer's eBook usage is already 50% of its journal usage, while the amount of content compared to journals is only 15%. Taking this success of eBook usage into account, Springer still believes strongly in the print model, and has recently launched MyCopy: heavily discounted print-on-demand books from the electronic versions. Originality/value: The study shows that print and electronic can exist together, and will complement each other's strengths.