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Purpose: Academic librarians who are planning for the future need to be knowledgeable about the short- and long-range outlook for print. They must also consider what will happen if libraries abolish most or all of their books. Current and future academic e-book usage is explored, and ideas for response to collection changes are suggested.

Design/methodology/approach: This article examines a wide range of studies and comments on this timely topic.

Findings: The disparity between the reception of e-books in the general population and the adoption of them in the academic world suggests that print is still important to faculty and students. Given the advances in e-book technological, the increasing popularity of online/distance education courses, the adoption of the new EPUB 3 format, and the ubiquity of mobile devices, e-books are expected to increasingly replace print volumes in academic libraries.

Originality/value: What has received little attention in the literature is the complexity of the issue of e-book reception in the academic world. This article looks at current and future e-book usage from the perspective of several large studies on diverse aspects of academic life, including students’ perceptions of libraries, their information-seeking behaviors, faculty research habits and information needs, students’ reading habits, and the impact of emerging technologies on teaching and learning. Providing insight into current and future academic e-book trends, this article suggests practical ways to respond to these trends.


This is the final author’s version of an article published in New Library World, 113(1/2): 27-37. © 2012 Emerald Group Publishing Limited