Social Networks and Bookselling

Project goals

To learn from independent booksellers and publishers in Wales what uses they are making of social networking and social media, and to gather a profile of attitudes to social networking within the Welsh book trade.

Background

Research into the reasons why some new technologies are accepted and used while others fail dates back to Rogers 1 work on diffusion of innovation in agriculture. His model predicted how new technologies spread from early adopters to laggards and was based on such factors as whether people perceived the innovation as a better way of doing things, how easy the new technology was to use, whether it fit in with their current way of working, and whether or not using it affected how others saw them. A variety of other models have developed for predicting the up-take of new technologies, largly based on Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior 2  and the Technology Acceptance Model of Fred Davis 3.

This research makes use of the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT). This model (see diagram below) is based on the work of Rogers, Davis and Ajzen as well as other studies into intended behavior and technology acceptance. According to UTAUT, actual behavior (or Use Behavior) results from two forces: Behavioral Intention and the Facilitating Conditions. Facilitation Conditions include the belief that systems are in place for supporting the activity (help desks, correct equipment and so on). Behavioral Intention results from three further factors:

  • Effort Expectancy, or how easy it is to use the system or technology.
  • Performance Expectancy, or whether the person believes that using the system or technology will help him or her achieve work goals.
  • Social Influence, or whether a person believes that important others will want him or her to use the system or technology.

The UTAUT has proven itself robust across a number of studies during the past ten years, especially in the study of the use of IT, including the use of mobile technology and social networks. In this study the model is applied to social network use in the Welsh book trade. The actual instrument used is adapted from Venkatesh and is combined with specific questions regarding current use and self-descriptions of confidence in social networking practice.

The survey is distributed through a WBC mailing list of bookstores and publishers operating within Wales. Responses are anonymous, but respondents have the opportunity to volunteer for further interviewing. All respondents receive a report on currently available tools and resources for good social networking practice.

Model of the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT)
Model of the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT)

 Partners

The Welsh Books Council is a national body, funded by the Welsh Government, which provides a focus for the publishing industry in Wales. It provides a number of specialist services (in the fields of editing, design, marketing and distribution) with a view to improving standards of book production and publication in both Welsh and English. It also distributes grants to publishers. The Books Council actively promotes reading and literacy in Wales.

The Strategic Insight Programme (SIP) funds and supports engagement between Welsh university staff and public, private and third sector organisations. SIP is a collaborative, pan-Wales programme, funded by HEFCW, which encourages innovation and provides time to scope new mutually beneficial relationships and strategic collaborative projects.

Dissemination

The results of the project will be published as a report by the Welsh Books Council. They will also be disseminated at WBC sponsored book trade events during 2014 and a presentation at the Social Media and the Transformation of Public Space conference in Amsterdam in June.

In the press

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Rogers, E.M., 2003. Diffusion of innovations, New York: Free Press.
  2. Ajzen, I.; Fishbein, M (1980), Understanding attitudes and predicting social behavior, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
  3. Davis, F. D. (1989), “Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology”, MIS Quarterly, 13(3): 319–340

I'd like to hear any thoughts you have on this.