From The University of Arizona UA News:
Despite stereotypes that paint millennials as “all technology, all the time,” young people may still prefer curling up with a paper book over their e-reader — even more so than their older counterparts — according to a new study from the University of Arizona that explores consumers’ psychological perceptions of e-book ownership.
The study also found that adult consumers across all age groups perceive ownership of e-books very differently from ownership of physical books, and this could have important implications for those in the business of selling digital texts.
“We looked at what’s called psychological ownership, which is not necessarily tied to legal possession or legal rights, but is more tied to perceptions of ‘what is mine,'” said lead study author Sabrina Helm, a UA associate professor who researches consumer perceptions and behaviors.
People’s sense of psychological ownership is affected by three primary factors: whether they feel as if they have control over the object they own, whether they use the object to define who they are, and whether the object helps give them a sense of belonging in society, said Helm, who teaches in the UA’s John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“Psychological ownership is important in people’s perception of how they value certain products or services or objects,” she said. “In the context of digital products, we thought it would be appropriate to look at how people take ownership of something that’s not really there — it’s just a file on your computer or device or in the cloud; it’s more of a concept than an actual thing.”
. . . .
These major themes emerged from the discussions:
- Participants across all age groups reported feeling a constricted sense of ownership of digital books versus physical books, based on the fact that they don’t have full control over the products. For example, they expressed frustration that they often could not copy a digital file to multiple devices.
- Along similar lines, many study participants lamented restrictions on sharing e-books with friends, or gifting or selling the books, saying this made e-books feel less valuable as possessions than physical books.
- Participants described being more emotionally attached to physical books, and said they use physical books to establish a sense of self and belonging. Participants across age groups frequently spoke about their nostalgia for certain childhood books. They also talked about experiencing physical books through multiple senses — describing, for example, the sound, smell and tactile experience of opening a new book, and the ability to highlight or write notes on paper pages. Participants also said they use their physical book collections to express their identity to others who might be perusing their shelves. E-books did not have these associations.
- Minimalists expressed a preference for digital books because they take up less physical space.
- Many participants said the e-book experience feels more like renting than buying.
- While almost everyone expressed strong attachment to physical books, and no one embraced a fully digital reading experience, older consumers, contrary to what one might expect, saw more advantages than younger consumers to reading with an e-reader. They referenced physical benefits that might not be as relevant to younger consumers, such as the lightweight nature of e-readers and the ability to zoom in on text.
Link to the rest at The University of Arizona UA News and thanks to Elaine for the tip.
From time to time, Mrs. PG explains to PG that he is unusual in a variety of ways.
One of those ways is that PG values the information contained in books, factual, emotional, historical, etc., far more than the books themselves.
If the book world were organized in a manner that required him to return or destroy each book after he had finished reading it, PG would not be terribly upset provided he could procure another copy should he want to reread the book or review part of a book (something that has happened on only a handful of occasions during his lifetime).
Impressive old libraries full of books are enjoyable to visit, but, for PG, impressive old castles or cathedrals or city centers are equally enjoyable to visit.
Because of this particular idiosyncrasy, transitioning from reading physical books to ebooks was simple, logical and satisfactory for PG. Ereaders are much easier to carry around than physical books. If you want a book you don’t have immediately available, the ebook comes to you rather than you going to a bookstore. You don’t have to decide what books to take with you on a vacation. You can instantly return any book you bought and didn’t like after you started reading it without searching for a receipt.
The most important thing to PG – the information the author put into a book – is identical in an ebook or a physical book.
This said, PG isn’t preachy about his preferences. He understands he’s an outlier and a great many people enjoy having physical books scattered about, caressing them from time to time and taking them to bed at night like a hard, boxy teddy bear.