Friday, July 23, 2010

An information mystery

Although I don't own an e-reader, I like to read about them and keep track of what's going on in the e-book world, just in case I ever decide to break down and buy one. Recently, I read about a report by Alloy Media + Marketing that found that 2 percent of college students currently own an e-reader and 50 percent say they plan to buy one in the next year.

I was going to write about college students and e-book readers, something along the lines of "What do you think about these statistics? Do you own an e-reader? Which one do you own or plan to get, and why did you choose that particular one?" However, I decided to try to track down Alloy Media + Marketing's original report and check it first, just in case, and that's when things got interesting.

The full report is available on Alloy Media + Marketing's New Releases page (choose the July 7, 2010 title). Although I found some of the other statistics the article I read had cited, I could not find anything in the report about college students and e-readers. The e-reader statistics have been mentioned in multiple blog posts and online news articles (for example, this, this, and this), all of which say they came from Alloy Media + Marketing's report. That doesn't necessarily mean that the additional findings scheduled for release later this month won't include the college students and e-readers statistics that so many have mentioned, but I don't see those numbers mentioned in this particular report. I haven't even been able to figure out exactly where these numbers really came from, because everything I've found that mentioned them refers to either a "recent report" from Alloy Media + Marketing or the exact report that I already found.

This, by the way, is a nice example of why it's a good idea to hunt down the original version of whatever it is you're citing, rather than just trusting that the information from a secondary source is correct and/or complete.

Have you ever had something like this happen to you before? Have you ever tried to confirm information that seemed to be quoted everywhere but couldn't find the original source of that information? Please comment and share - I'd love to hear about it.

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