||ELPUB2006. Digital Spectrum: Integrating Technology and Culture - Supplement to the Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Electronic Publishing held in Bansko, Bulgaria 14-16 June 2006 / Edited by: Klaus Kreulich, Peter Linde, Stefan Pletschacher and Arved Hübler. ISBN 978-954-16-0040-5, 2006, pp. 1-15
||A major problem with discussing how users interact with electronic publications is that such publications are not only new, they are also evolving rapidly in terms of their characteristics. As a result, studies of users have also changed - from the 1980s and early 1990s, when e-publications were mainly experimental and few in number, to the present-day, when they are numerous and widely available . It was expected in the 1990s that the first decade of the present century would be a crucial period in the transition from print publishing to e-publishing, and such is, indeed, proving to be the case. At the same time, the medium for e-publication is increasingly becoming online and interactive. Such forms as CD-ROM are still useful for specific purposes (for example, including electronic information with printed matter), but the main future for electronic publishing is clearly linked to online developments. One problem in discussing user interaction with electronic publications is the somewhat restricted scope of the most extensive user studies of e-publishing. These have tended to concentrate on academic or professional groups, frequently in North America, and on their use of e-journals. Fortunately, many of the factors affecting users are common across a range of e-publication types. Because of the rapidity with which change is occurring, most attention will be paid here to user studies that have appeared over the past five years. However, these studies have often confirmed the results of work carried out in the 1990s (especially since usage of the World Wide Web became common). Users' attitudes to e-publishing, and the way they interact with it, are affected by a range of factors. At a general level, they depend on the value that is attached to electronic resources, with particular emphasis on the perceived advantages and disadvantages of e-publications. Next, they can be affected by the specific sort of user group being studied. Then they can vary according to individual preferences regarding methods of seeking information. These various factors are, in turn, affected by others. One such is the availability and reliability of the electronic facilities that users can access. Another is the extent to which habits and skills acquired in the use of print publications can be applied in an e-publishing environment. The discussion of users' behaviour below will concentrate on the significance of these different, though often related, factors.