Generation Y students’ attitudes towards eBooks and eBook adoption
Van Schalkwyk, Johannes-Hugo
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The global eBook market saw tremendous global growth since its invention, as well as great leaps in technological progress. African countries, however, saw very little growth and only benefited from eBooks long after developed nations did. South Africa joined the trend towards eBook adoption circa 2012, and adoption rates increased. Estimates have shown that traction would increase towards 2019, partly due to government’s new focus on digital, and the higher interest in digital academic material. Conversely, the global eBook market slowed towards 2013 due to a number of factors hindering the further adoption thereof. This study specifically focussed on Generation Y students as they are seen as a high priority segment. Students are seen as the potential high income earners and leaders of the future, and Generation Y is seen as those who will have the highest potential spending power. They are also a generation born into technology, which makes them the ideal segment to further eBook adoption. Furthermore, they have an affinity for causes and use social media on a frequent basis. All of these factors make Generation Y students an attractive market, which is easy to reach but difficult to convince. The primary goal of this study was to examine Generation Y students’ attitudes towards eBooks and eBook adoption. To meet this goal, adapted scales were used which measured awareness, interest and intention to use, self-reported use, perceived ease of use, perceived usefulness, subjective norms, consumer innovativeness, and environmental awareness. After the data cleaning, the 370 questionnaires which were usable were analysed. To analyse the collected data, the following procedures were carried out: reliability and validity analysis, descriptive analysis, factor analysis, regression analysis, and two independent samples t-test. This study concluded that students preferred to read (mostly skim) for academic purposes, and they used print outs or hard copies to do their reading. It was also found that students mostly had access to smartphones and laptops; few had access to PCs, eReaders, and tablets. The analysed data showed that students were aware of eBooks; showed interest and intention to use them, and perceived eBooks to be easy to use; but were not making frequent use of them at the time of the study. The analysis of the data in this study focussed on interest and intention to use, and self-reported use, and how the other independent variables influenced them. It was found that current usage, the perception of usefulness, how easy eBooks appeared to be to use, and how aware of environmental factors they were, influenced whether Generation Y students were interested and had intention to use eBooks. Next, awareness, interest and intention to use, perceived usefulness, and social influence were shown to affect their self-reported use. Lastly, the data suggested that there were no significant differences in male and female Generation Y students’ attitudes towards eBooks and their adoption thereof. Little other data are available regarding eBook adoption in South Africa and how Generation Y students perceive it. This study adds to the limited literature and illumines several important factors. These findings will assist universities, retailers, publishers, and libraries to motivate eBook adoption among Generation Y students and to showcase the benefits thereof. This study highlights Generation Y students’ medium of preference, and how they tend to read. Furthermore, it showcases certain factors which show their awareness of eBooks, whether they intend to use eBooks in the future, their current usage of eBooks, and whether they deem eBooks easy to use. Next, it also shows how useful they find eBooks, how their social circles influence them, how innovative they consider themselves to be, and how environmentally conscious they are. By using the data in this study, some obstacles might be overcome in order for eBooks to diffuse through to the early and late majority, and reach a new cycle of growth.