Exploring Relationships Between the Consumption of Digital Books and Digital Divide

Exploring Relationships Between the Consumption of Digital Books and Digital Divide

Wilson Ozuem (University of Gloucestershire, UK) and Geoff Lancaster (London School of Commerce, UK)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7730-0.ch013


Determining how notions of digital divide influence decision making for organizations is problematic, not least because the concept of digital divide itself is amorphous, evolving, and rooted in consumer and organizational awareness and their level of technological adoption. Although a considerable amount of research in information and communication technology (ICT) has been done to conceptualize how the emerging technologies reduce or complicate digital divide, no parallel research has been conducted on the impact of digital books on digital divide. Drawing on a social constructivist paradigmatic perspective, this chapter examines the dynamics of value propositions in digital books. The chapter concludes by calling for a greater and deeper understanding of digital divide, as well as further research on quantitative approaches.
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The emergence of ICT, and the internet in particular, has led to the implementation of a whole range of new services that have completely changed the way individuals and firms interact and communicate, do business, pursue economic growth, and education (Cruz-Jesus et al, 2016; Gonclaves, 2018).

The digital economy, also referred to as a knowledge economy, has brought about a world in which wealth and power increasingly depend on information technology, intellectual property, and control over information flows (Shapiro and Varian, 1999; Carr, 2010; Simmons, 2008; Davenport and Beck, 2001; Salehan, et al., 2018).

In one sense, such an economy provides further democratisation in the spread of ideas and resources; in another, it contributes to a ‘digital divide’ between those with wide access to the internet and those without (Epstein, Nisbet and Gillespie, 2011; DiMaggio, et al., 2004; Cuervo and Menendez, 2006; Page, et al., 2010; Bolt and Crawford, 2000). The concept of digital divide is normatively charged. Its usual formulation appears to confound prescription and description. Friemel (2014) reports:

‘Due to the pervasiveness of the Internet, an increasing number of public and private services are re-designed as online solutions, and new proprietary applications are emerging. The combination of this increase of online services relevant for the economic, political, cultural and private life and the disparity of their use leads to inequalities on the level of individuals, social groups and nations.’ (p. 314). Friemel argues that additional distinctions have been introduced in the realm of digital divide research which include the differentiation of adoption, access, usage patterns and skills. In this context, the existence of the digital inequalities both between and within countries, poses a major threat to the fulfilment of ICT potential. The digital divide has been defined as the gap between individuals, businesses and geographic areas at different socio-economic levels with regard both to their opportunities to access ICT and to their use of the Internet for a wide variety of activities. (OECD, 2011; Goncalves, 2018; Belloc, 2018). In her study on Italian voters’ behaviour, Belloc (2018) noted that the larger spectrum of choices made available by digital television has made it easier for citizens to find their preferred content on programmes offered by TV channels and to finely personalise their consumption baskets.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social Constructionism: Is an umbrella concept that describes the underlying meaning-making of qualitative research that reality is not something “out there” to be discovered.

Thematic Analysis: Refers to the process of data segmentation and coding in qualitatively-based research methodology.

Digital Divide: Refers to those individuals with or without access to internet technology based on their acceptance of the medium of communication.

Information and Communication Technology: Stands for technologies or devices that provide access to information through telecommunications.

Case Study: Is a research strategy that draws together numerous data collection techniques to generate qualitative data.

Electronic-Reader (E-Reader): Is an instrument for reading content, such as e-books, newspapers, and documents.

Qualitative Research: Refers To procedures or methodology used to generate unstructured, open-ended interviews, and observations.

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