Digital reading devices are likely to evolve into multi-function platforms, driven by the trend of digital convergence. Digital content providers must thus consider both technological issues and the behaviour of users.
Taiwan's population is around 23 million people. In Taiwan 82.9 per cent of households have computers, 76.1 per cent of households have Internet access, and 71.8 per cent of households have broadband access (NICIC, 2009). By the end of June 2009 cable broadband, cable modem, and leased line subscribers had reached 4.9 million. Meanwhile, the number of mobile network subscribers reached 2.7 million. Taiwan's current Internet population reached 10 million people, and the Internet network penetration rate was 46 per cent (NCC, 2009). The Internet is the second most commonly used mass medium, trailing only television, especially for the 15 to 24 age group, in which 54.4 per cent of users read news online (GIO, 2009; p. 73).
For studying the adoption of information technology the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) (Davis, 1989; Davis et al., 1989) is a widely used and fairly successful research model. This study develops and tests an extended TAM in the context of attitude toward dedicated e-book reader adoption, incorporating multiple theories.
A questionnaire with 23 items comprising six dimensions – perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, convenience, compatibility, media richness, and intention to use – was constructed.
We used convenience sampling to gather data because dedicated e-book readers are an emerging technology in Taiwan and there is no reliable sampling frame with which to conduct a random sampling. Thus, volunteers were invited to complete this survey. In total we received 326 questionnaires. After screening ambiguous and invalid responses, 288 valid questionnaires were retained. The male-to-female ratio was approximately equal.
All of the respondents were students, including senior secondary school students (5 per cent of all respondents), four-year university students (78 per cent), and graduate students (17 per cent).
We used the partial least squares (PLS) technique to perform the data analysis.
First, construct reliability and validity were established using confirmatory factor analysis. The research model's convergent validity was evaluated according to two criteria recommended by Fornell and Larcker (1981):
The results satisfy the requirement of Fornell and Larcker, indicating good convergent and discriminant validity of the measurements.
For this model's results we examined the path coefficients, p-values, t-values, and R-square statistics. All coefficient values were positive, indicating that as the value of the independent latent variable increases, the value of the dependent latent variable also increases. As expected these results support all hypotheses.
Interestingly, compatibility shows greater influence on acceptance of e-book readers than convenience and media richness. This implies that users will not accept e-books unless they are compatible with traditional printed books. Perhaps users may refuse to change their "stereotype" of printed books. Hence, providers must ensure that e-book readers have functions compatible with traditional reading habits, e.g. font size, note-taking, work and life styles, or expected value from reading.
In our study compatibility was found to significantly affect perceived ease of use.
More than compatibility, convenience may be a critical factor attracting users to e-book readers, particularly for those who place a high value on time and effort. It is quick and easy to buy or carry e-book readers, and to access core benefits such as reading. With international wireless or wired network support, users can read books anywhere. Hence, we believe that convenience is a dominant antecedent of e-book reader acceptance.
As expected, media richness was found to be another important factor influencing intention to use e-book readers. System providers should consider the provision of "rich" content for their subscribers or readers. Dynamic and vivid content with colourful displays and multimedia effects can help attract traditional users to use e-book readers. Further, the electronic texts in e-book readers can be threaded with hyperlinks that can enhance the reader experience by providing access to further information or to richer forms of parallel information (Stone, 2008).
Inhibitors for wider adoption of e-book readers include the inability of these devices to replace printed media and design features that render the devices difficult to use efficiently (Stone, 2008), suggesting that a user-friendly e-book reader is a necessity. To increase ease of use developers should attempt to provide user-friendly functions such as touch-screen navigation, voice interface, or multi-language support.
Developers should also consider providing personalized functions for users, allowing users to define personal favourite display sizes, screen brightness, display rotation, books, and other reading habits, and then storing these settings as the default for next use. We believe that personalization can increase user perception of usefulness since it can increase user reading performance.
Surprisingly, compatibility was found to be a significant antecedent of media richness. This gives us a possible future direction to explore and implies that the more compatible e-book readers are, the richer information or media users will perceive when reading.
E-book readers can help users to save time and effort. According to our findings convenience, compatibility, and media richness indeed appear to be significant determinants of e-book readers' acceptance. Clearly, e-book readers with the features of convenience, compatibility, and media richness will enable users to experience e-book readers as easier and useful, thus intensifying their intention to use the new technology. Intention to use is often used as a critical indicator of technology acceptance; increased intention to use, in other words, may increase the probability of successful introduction of e-book readers. However, more study is required to understand the social and cultural influence of media richness and hence e-book reader acceptance.
There are several limitations in this study:
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NCC (2009), "The number of broadband internet access accounts", National Communications Commission, available at: www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/news_detail.aspx?site_content_sn=1132&is_history=0&pages=0&sn_f=13065 (accessed 4 December 2009).
NICIC (2009), Households Online 2009, National Information and Communications Initiative Committee, available at: www.nici.nat.gov.tw/content/application/nici/egenerala/guest-cnt-browse.php?cnt_id=6455 (accessed 4 December 2009).
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This is a shortened version of "User attitudes toward dedicated e-book readers for reading: the effects of convenience, compatibility and media richness", which originally appeared in Online Information Review, Volume 35 Number 4, 2011, pp. 558-580.
The authors are Jung-Yu Lai and Chih-Yen Chang of the Institute of Technology Management, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan.