Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Computer and Security Science


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


Electronic books (e-books) have grown in importance in Academic and Research Libraries (ARLs). Some ARLs are now spending more on e-book acquisitions than hardcopy books. Whether this investment in e-book provision is justified by adoption outcomes is often the subject of simplistic, rather than rigorous research. This research has attempted to rigorously explore the phenomenon of e-book adoption in a case study ARL, namely, Edith Cowan University (ECU) Library.

The study population consisted of ECU academics, students and non-academic staff. The research had three aims. First, by employing a theoretical framework based on technology adoption and information behaviour theory, the study sought explanations of adoption behaviours in the population. In a triangular research design, that included a survey, ECU users were invited to self-describe their own patterns of e-book behaviour. Survey data was used to determine if behaviour observed in transactions could be explained in terms of constructs derived from technology acceptance, information behaviour and other domain theories that seek to understand user interaction with information sources. Next, applying log analysis techniques to system-generated datasets of e-book usage, the researcher documented and analysed patterns of ECU e-book user behaviour in terms of the transaction record. Lastly, the study investigated whether transaction logs could be used with high reliability to profile users’ information behaviour providing the basis of a method for e-book individualisation. The study attempted to profile power users and to derive a predictive method for identifying them in log data.

The study found many factors in technology acceptance theory that were significant in terms of adoption behaviour. E-book adoption in the case study ARL was found to be related to culture of use across the dimensions of habit/automaticity, preference for online resources and platforms, and information literacy. E-book collection sufficiency, purpose or task fit, convenience, functionality, and access/copy/print/download provisions were found to be significant in terms of performance expectancy. Dimensions of effort expectancy in finding/searching/reading e-books also significantly affected user behaviour. Other significant relations comprised perceived e-book hedonic attributes (pleasantness of experience, attractiveness of formats), familiarity (awareness, prior experience, differentiability), intimacy (personal likeness, emotional attachment, preferences), facilitating conditions (such as discovery, findability, connectivity/access, courseware embedded links), moderating factors (including respondent category, student programme, age, gender, and experience/years). These factors were found to be significant as sources of gratification and continuance intention.

An original contribution to knowledge was also made by deriving a predictive equation for classifying users based on transaction log data. Further, the research developed a new model of higher level information behaviours displayed by sophisticated or so-called ‘power users,’ and generated a model of e-book information behaviour maturity that distinguishes nascent from mature behaviours. The model is grounded in self-reported information behaviour. As an expansive exploration of e-book usage patterns in a case study ARL using multiple methods, the work is also innovative both in terms of scope and as an exploration of e-book adoption in an Australian context. This research is significant in laying the foundations for machine-based user profiling and enhanced individualisation of e-books to make for more satisfying user experience and acceptance of e-books.


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