Are Students in the Humanities Making Less Use of Printed Books? A Longitudinal Study at the University of Queensland Library (January 2011)…

“The rapid growth of electronic journals (and especially of resources such as JSTOR) has provided a convenient alternative to the monograph, and one that is accessible from any computer” … “students are using them heavily, and we suspect that this has a lot to do with their accessibility.”

“If we suspect that one factor in the decline in borrowing of humanities monographs is the inconvenience of the print format for today’s students, we should do everything that we can to increase our holdings of e-books in the humanities, as more such works become available.”

The other possibility, for popular books required for a course, is that the nerdy students already have them in pirated ebook format, which would account for a marginal drop in print access. Perhaps the Web-savvy ones are also viewing enough pages on Google Books / Amazon Look Inside to satisfy their needs. Yet I wouldn’t rule out on-demand piracy in future — with the advent of things like the Ion Book Saver, will the class nerd simply convert an essay-required book in 15 minutes and email it to the rest of the class?