The Online Books Evaluation Project at Columbia University explores the potential for on-line books to become significant resources in academic libraries by analyzing (1) the Columbia community's adoption of and reaction to various on-line books and delivery system features provided by the libraries over the period of the project; (2) the relative life-cycle costs of producing, owning, and using on-line books and their print counterparts; and (3) the implications of intellectual property regulations and traditions of scholarly communications and publishing for the on-line format.
On-line books might enhance the scholarly processes of research, dissemination of findings, teaching, and learning. Alternatively, or in addition, they might enable publishers, libraries, and scholars to reduce the costs of disseminating and using scholarship. For example:
• If the scholarly community were prepared to use some or all categories of books for some or all purposes in an on-line format instead of a print format, publishers, libraries, and bookstores might be able to trim costs as well as enhance access to these books.
• If on-line books made scholars more efficient or effective in their work of research, teaching, and learning so as to enhance revenues or reduce operating costs for their institutions, on-line books might be worth adopting even if they were no less costly than print books.
• If an on-line format became standard, publishers could offer low-cost on-line access to institutions that would not normally have purchased print copies, thus expanding both convenient access to scholarship to faculty and students at those institutions and publishers' revenues from these books.
This paper focuses on user response to on-line books and reports on:
1. the conceptual framework for the project
2. background information on the status of the collection and other relevant project elements, particularly design considerations
3. the methodology for measuring adoption of on-line books by the Columbia community
4. early findings on use of on-line books and other on-line resources
5. early findings on attitudes toward on-line books