An Artifact Switching Model for User Acceptance of eBooks

An Artifact Switching Model for User Acceptance of eBooks

Clive Sanford (Department of Information Systems, Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/joeuc.2013040102


This study theorizes and validates a model of user switching from non-IT artifacts to IT artifacts by integrating and extending prior findings from IT acceptance and adoption streams of research and using migration theory as the theoretical bridge. The proposed model examines different types of switching predictors such as push and pull factors, intervening obstacles, and individual differences, as well as interdependencies between these factors as moderating effects. Empirical data from a longitudinal field survey of users’ switching from traditional hard copy books to eBooks validates most of the hypothesized associations. This study alerts publishers, academics, and educational institutions to the challenges and opportunities of artifact switching in general and suggests strategies that can help these stakeholders enable artifact switching within their target populations.
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As technological choices continue to expand in today’s marketplace, so have incidences of user switching from artifacts that are not technology-based to substitute technologically oriented artifacts. Switching is defined as a complete or partial replacement of an incumbent artifact with a substitute artifact that serves similar needs (Ye et al., 2008). Switching to a product that incorporates information technology (IT) can be as simple as downloading and installing new IT software or downloading and reading information that is in an electronic book (eBook) format. The switching phenomenon has far-reaching ramifications for both industry and users because it translates into changes in revenue and market share for vendors that correctly anticipate IT-enabled changes in user preferences.

The convergence of eBook availability and improvements in eReader (a device used for the purpose of reading an electronic textbook) technologies has laid the foundation for a societal shift from printed books (pBooks) to an electronic software representation of a pBook (eBook). The initial conceptualization of an eBook that was based on a hypertext engine called the Meme (Bush, 1945) and subsequent advances in computer and Internet technology have created an opportunity for educational institutions, faculty members, and students to take advantage of the growing presence of eBooks (Sharp, 2005).

In 2005 Carlson (2005) found that only 11% of 4,000 students at 21 college campuses preferred using eBook technologies to pBooks. In the same year, McFall (2005) found no significant differences between students’ learning from paper textbooks to those who used the electronic version, and student responses about the usefulness of the eBooks were rated as neutral. However, during the past few years, the acceptance and use of eBooks has been gaining some traction, especially in academic institutions. The introduction of the open source eBook XML-based ePub standard in 2007 reduced the risk for publishers (Kaiser, 2009) by being a viable and competitive format to Amazon’s proprietary AZW and KF8 formats. A year later Guess (2008) correctly anticipated the increase in the adoption rate of eBooks by students. They were more receptive to using eBooks due to technology advancements and a concomitant reduction in cost, the growing availability of content by publishers, and the rising cost of traditional textbooks.

The introduction of the Kindle® with E-ink display technology in 2007 allowed Amazon to overcome barriers that previously prevented the widespread adoption of eBook reader devices such as poor battery life, insufficient screen clarity, and the lack of search and notation capabilities. With the Kindle, they executed a successful business strategy by complementing their existing book sales with a user-friendly, easy-to-read eReader device. The subsequent surge in sales for the Kindle paralleled the rapid growth of the eBook market (IDPF, 2010). Now, many eBook readers such as the Amazon Kindle Fire® and the Apple iPad® have multi-modal features that have helped to fuel the expansion of the market for eBook acceptance and usage. Buying and reading books is an inherently social process and eReaders with social networking and sharing features that are enabled through 3G and/or wireless affect decisions concerning adoption and diffusion of IT-enabled innovations such as eBooks (Oinas-Kukkonen et al., 2010).

eBooks not only change the way we consume media, but the changing relationship between the ecosystem of writing and reading alters the very manner and style of media that is produced and consumed. It has an effect on vendors and educational institutions in that the acceptance and usage by students has the potential to increase textbook revenues for textbook publishers and/or to decrease textbook costs for educational institutions and students (Shiratuddin, 2005; Thomas, 2006). Both pBooks and eBooks can co-exist, and complement each other’s strengths (van der Velde, 2009). For example, Springer publishes over 4,000 book titles annually, which are converted into eBooks, and its eBook usage is 50 percent of its journal usage, while the amount of content compared with journals is only 15 percent.

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