Obstacles to Using E-Books in Higher Education

Hamadah Alsadoon


Electronic books provide learners, lecturers and universities with an extra tool of instructions that can encourage or improve the learning process. The purpose of the current paper is to investigate obstacles students face in using e-books at the Saudi Electronic University. A mixed-method research design was used. Thirty students participated in two focus group sessions and 215 students participated in a self-developed survey designed to confirm the existence of obstacles revealed from qualitiave data. Results suggest that cost, eye-strain, and distractions were regarded as obstacles. Practices such as highlighting and taking notes were found to be limited. With the trend toward implementation of e-books in learning, e-book developers should consider factors that help students enjoy using the devices in education. Integrating multimedia, hyperlinks and other features of using technology in reading should be considered. Recommendations have been included in this study.


E-Books, Higher Education, Interactive Books, Obstacles

Full Text:



Abdul Karim, S. K. (2011). The effectiveness of individual selflearning computer-simulated and electronic book in the development of innovative thinking among Science students in second year, Faculty of Education, Sultanate of Oman (experimental study). Journal of the Faculty of Education, University of Assiut, 27(2).

Abutaleb, Y. (2012). Some universities require students to use e-textbooks. USA Today, 1.

Acker, S. R. (2011). Digital textbooks. Library Technology Reports, 47(8), 41-51.

Alzaq, E. S. (2008). The effect of differing interaction interface in the e-book on cognitive achievement and skills performance among students of educational technology master and attitudes towards it. Journal of psychiatric and educational research, 23(2), 104-141.

Amari, MS & Shabl, ES. (2012). The effectiveness of using e-book in the reading course on academic achievement among students in the secondary first grade, Reading and knowledge Magazine, 133, 42-8.

ARAB NEWS (2018). Saudi Ministry gives e-books access to students. Retrieved from https://www.arabnews.com/node/1373131/saudi-arabia

Arch, X. (2012). Under the hood: E-textbooks and the library. Against the Grain, 24(1), 41.

Armstrong, C.J., Edwards, L. & Lonsdale, R. (2002). Virtually there? E-books in UK academic libraries, Electronic Library & Information Systems, 36(4), 216-27.

Becker, B. W. (2010). Understanding and applying the technology forecast of the 2010 Horizon Report. Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian, 29(2), 162-165.

Bonk, C. J. (2001) Online Teaching in an Online World, Bloomington, Ind.: Course Share

Butler, D. (2009). The textbook of the future. Nature, 458(2), 568-570.

Casey, J. (1994) Integrating Computers in the Primary Classroom. The Computing Teacher, 21, 33-36.

Chau, M. (2008) the Effects of Electronic Books Designed for Children in Education, Essays on the Design of Electronic Text (SCROLL), l1(1).

Chesser, W. D. (2011). The E-textbook revolution. Library Technology Reports, 47(8), 28-40.

Clark, D. T., Goodwin, S. P., Samuelson, T., & Coker, C. (2008). A qualitative assessment of the Kindle e-book reader: Results from initial focus groups. Performance Measurement and Metrics, 9(2), 118-129.

Conyers, A., Lambert, J., Wong, L., Jones, H., Bamkin, M., & Dalton, P. (2017). E-book usage: counting the challenges and opportunities. Insights, 30(2), 23–30. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.370.

Creswell, J. W., & Clark, V. L. P. (2018). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. Sage publications.

Croft, R., & Davis, C. (2010). E-books revisited: Surveying student e-book usage in a distributed Learning academic library 6 years later. Journal of Library Administration, 50(1), 543-569.

Day, R. (2001). Reading the Future. Popular Mechanics, 178(4), 82-85.

Eason, G. (2011). Digital textbooks open a new chapter. BBC news. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15175962.

Ebied, M. M., & Rahman, S. A. (2015). The Effect of Interactive e-Book on Students’ Achievement at Najran University in Computer in Education Course. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(19), 71-82.

Embong, A. M., Noor, A. M., Hashim, H. M., Ali, R. M., & Shaari, Z. H. (2012). E-Books as Textbooks in the Classroom. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 47, 1802-1809.

Embong, A. M., Noor, A. M., Rafek, M., Othman, H., & Khalid, P. Z. M. (2014). What do Teachers and Pupils Say about Using e-Books in the Classrooms? International Journal of Social Science and Humanity,

(6), 451.

Grudzien, P., & Casey, A. M. (2008). Do off-campus students use e-books? Journal of Library Administration, 48(3/4), 455-466

Gunter, B. (2005). Electronic books: A survey of users in the UK. Emerald Insight, 57(6), 513-522.

Fasi, M. H. (2018). Attitudes of Saudi Arabian Students toward the Use of Digital Libraries in Higher Education (Doctoral dissertation), University of Kansas. USA.

Herlihy, C. S., & Yi, H. (2010). E-books in academic libraries: How does currency affect usage? New Library World, 111(9–10), 371–380.

Herring, Susan C. (2001). Computer-mediated discourse. In Tannen, Deborah, Deborah Schiffrin & Heidi Hamilton (eds.) Handbook of discourse analysis (pp. 612-634). Oxford: Blackwell.

Hodges, D., Preston, C., & Hamilton, M. J. (2010). Resolving the challenge of e-books. Collection Management, 35(3-4), 196-200.

Hutton, J. (2008). Academic libraries as digital gateways: Linking students to the burgeoning wealth of open online collections. Journal of Library Administration, 48(3/4), 495-507.

Jamali, H. R., Nicholas, D., & Rowlands, I. (2009). Scholarly e-books: The views of 16,000 academics Results from the JISC National E-Book Observatory. Aslib Proceedings, 61(1), 33-47.

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., & Haywood, K., (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Kang, Y., Wang, M. J., & Lin, R. (2009). Usability evaluation of e-books. Displays, 30(2), 49-52.

Keeton, M. T. (2004). Best online instructional practices: report of phase i of an on-going study, Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 8 (2), 75-100.

Kelley, M., & Warburton, B. (2011). Survey: Undergraduates prefer print over ebooks. Library Journal, 136(12), 14-15

Kim, K. J., Bonk, C. J., & Zeng, T. (2005). Surveying the future of workplace e-learning: The rise of blending, interactivity, and authentic learning. eLearn, 2005(6), 2.

Korah, A., Cassidy, E., Elmore, E., & Jerabek, A. (2009). Off the shelf: Trends in the purchase and use of electronic reference books. Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship, 21(3/4), 263-278.

Larson, L. C. (2010). Digital readers: The next chapter in e-book reading and response. Reading Teacher, 64(1), 15-22.

Martin, K. E., & Mundle, K. (2009). Notes on operations cataloging e-books and vendor records. Library Resources and Technical Services, 54(4), 227-237.

Miller, C. C., & Bosman, J. (2011, May 19). E books outsell print books Amazon. New York Times. 19 Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/20/technology/20amazon.html

Murray, M. C., & Perez, J. (2011). E-textbooks are coming: Are we ready? Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology, 8, 49-60.

Onwuegbuzie, A. J., Bustamante, R. M., & Nelson, J. A. (2010). Mixed research as a tool for developing quantitative instruments. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 4(1), 56-78.

Palmer, P. & Donaldson, S., A. (2001). The e-book Revolution. Black Enterprise, 31(9), 49-50.

Poftak, A. (2001). Getting a Read on E-books. Technology & Learning, 21(9), 22-24.

Polanka, S. (2011). University of Washington Kindle study: Results in. Retrieved from http://www.noshelfrequired.com/university-of-washington-kindle-study-results-in

Reynolds, R. (2011). Digital textbooks reaching the tipping point in U.S. higher education: A revised five-year forecast. Retrieved from http://info.xplana.com/report/pdf/Xplana_Whitepaper_2011.pdf

Rhodes, J. A., & Milby, T. M. (2007). Teacher-created electronic books: Integrating technology to support readers with disabilities. Reading Teacher, 61(3), 255-259

Rockinson-Szapkiw, A. J., Holder, D. E., & Dunn, R. (2011). Motivating students to learn: Is there a difference between traditional books and e-books? Proceedings of Global Learn Asia Pacific 2011, 235-239.

Romero Otero, I. S., Iglesias Fernández, E., & Giménez Toledo, E. (2013). Use, acceptance and expectations for the ebook in a research library.

Rukanci, F. & Anameric, H. (2003). E-Kitap Teknolojisi ve Kullanımı [E-books and Use of Technology]. Türk Kütüphaneciliği, 17, 2,147-166.

Saudi Electronic University (2011). Introduction: Saudi Electronic University (SEU) as a government educational institution. Retrieved Jan 23rd from https://seu.edu.sa/en/about

Shamir, A. (2009). Processes and outcomes of joint activity with e-books for promoting kindergarteners’ emergent literacy. Educational Media International, 46(1), 81-96.

Shepperd, J. A., Grace, J. L., & Koch, E. J. (2008). Evaluating the electronic textbook: Is it time to dispense with the paper text? Teaching of Psychology, 35(1), 2-5.

Shrimplin, A. K., Revelle, A., Hurst, S., & Messner, K. (2011). Contradictions and Consensus—Clusters of Opinions on E-books. College & research libraries, 72(2), 181-190.

Siegenthaler, E., Wurtz, P., & Groner, R. (2010). Improving the usability of e-book readers. Journal of usability studies, 6(1), 25-38.

Slater, R. (2010). Why aren’t e-books gaining more ground in academic libraries? E-book use and perceptions: A review of published literature and research. Journal of Web Librarianship, 4(4), 305–331.

Smith. S. D., & Caruso, J. B. (2010) The ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology, EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research. Retrieved from https://www.ship.edu/globalassets/pcde/ecar_study_highlights.pdf

Vassiliou, M., & Rowley, J. (2008). Progressing the definition of “e-book”. Library Hi Tech, 26(3), 355-368.

Wilkie, T., & Harris, S. (2010). E-books face bright future. Research Information, 46, 9.

Williams, M. G., & Dittmer, A. (2009). Textbooks on tap: Using electronic books housed in handheld devices in nursing clinical courses. Nursing Education Perspectives, 30(4), 220-225.

Wittmann, A. (2000). Bye Bye Books?. Network Computing, 11(22), 210.

Woody, W. D., Daniel, D. B., & Baker, C. A. (2010). E-books or textbooks: Students prefer textbooks. Computers & Education, 55, 945-948.

Wu, A., & Mitchell, A. M. (2010). Mass management of e-book catalog records: Approaches, challenges, and solutions. Library Resources & Technical Services, 54(3), 164-174.

Yalman, M. (2015). Education faculty students’ views about use of e-books. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 16(1).

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijels.v.8n.2p.44


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2013-2020 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

International Journal of Education and Literacy Studies  

You may require to add the 'aiac.org.au' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.