Education

Have You Read Your E-Book This Week?

March 12, 2009 1 min read
It’s only Friday, so there’s still time to read an electronic text to commemorate

“Read an e-Book Week,” which runs through tomorrow.

Some experts predict there will be huge growth in this area; not exactly a prophetic statement given the proliferation of mobile devices that can accommodate e-books and the growing popularity of e-reader gadgets.

There are a lot of proponents, and commercial providers, who would like to see e-textbooks gain ground in districts across the country. Some, like Sony, have donated millions of e-books to schools in the hopes that the trend will catch on. And now the Internet giants Amazon and Google have jumped headlong into the market.

Some observers, however, like this blogger and e-book proprietor, wonder if the big textbook publishers will use their influence to discourage school districts from transitioning to e-texts. Those publishers often include online versions of their texts, or other tech features meant to enhance the content, so I’m not sure that they would necessarily try to hinder growth in this area.

The economic crisis, and the speed of progress in developing these kinds of tools may just push e-book adoption beyond any real or perceived barriers. Citing recent survey data, the E-Book Week Web site reports that for schools “e-book sales from January to May surpassed the 2007 figures by 400 percent. Respondents to the survey said there were three key factors that led to purchasing electronic books. They were cost, convenience and interactivity.”

Not to mention that e-books are considered environmentally friendly because of the reduction in the use of paper and the production process.

It’s not clear what portion of that growth is in higher education, where there has been more of a willingness to use e-texts. Is this a practical tool for schools? Are there enough e-book materials available to substitute for traditional paper products? What are the pros and cons of
adopting e-books in schools?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.