What are Electronic Books?

As the technology underlying electronic readers has improved and as more titles have become available, electronic books are quickly reaching the point where their advantages over the printed book are compelling to almost any observer. The convenience of carrying an entire library in a purse, pocket, or book bag appeals to readers who find time for a few pages in between appointments or while commuting. Already firmly established in the public sector, electronic books are gaining a foothold on campuses as well, where they serve as a cost-effective and portable alternative to heavy textbooks and supplemental reading selections. The availability of portable electronic reading devices like the recently announced Apple iPad, the Amazon Kindle, the Nook, the Sony Reader, and book-reader applications designed for iPhone and other mobiles has made it easy to carry a wide selection of reading material in a small package, with that material updated wirelessly as new content becomes available.

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Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - alan alan Jan 27, 2010

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • It would seem a natural high relevance given the student costs of purchasing textbooks and readings, as well as the environmental impact - alan alan Aug 23, 2010 Agreed. Add to this the engagement factor. Many, as strange as it may seem, will happily use a device to read course materials when they are reluctant to read the same content in printed format. - michael.coughlan michael.coughlan Aug 31, 2010
  • - mark.brown mark.brown Aug 24, 2010 ebook readers and ebooks (two separate technologies) are likely to increase the move by institutions to provide students with digital learning resources. Many students will see this as a cost saving exercise and the challenge will be to provide 'added value' through the tools and features of the technology.
  • I feel that the ePub standard http://www.idpf.org goes only part of the way to addressing the possibilities offered. Although there are some tools out there for ePub creation (the format Amazon and Apple iBooks use) such as the Open Source "Calibre" software and now Apples' "Pages" software, interactivity is missing. A new solution shows a lot of promise and will create these more interactive text by allowing the inclusion of dynamic media. Worth a look - "inkling" http://www.inkling.com . Combine these with ePubs PDFs that can be annotated with Apps such as "iAnnotate PDF", and I think one has a powerful solution. Traditional publishers have been slow to move, but there is no doubt that both K-12 and HiEd are looking for a "paperless" option (listed in last section below) - stephen.atherton stephen.atherton Aug 30, 2010
  • In an environment where we still put great value on content - the ebook platform with annotation capabilities presents in many respects the perfect solution and one that will stay for some time to come. This also allows seamless integration with other course related readings.- philip.poronnik philip.poronnik Sep 2, 2010

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • This year is seeing a rise in ways of using the standards of electronic books for academic publishing. The Book of MPub http://tkbr.ccsp.sfu.ca/bookofmpub/ is in interesting class project from Simon Fraser University where students researched and published a series of academic papers about electronic publishing, but also did so in the form of the technologies discussed. And the One Week One Tool project from George Mason University developed a publishing tool called Anthologize (http://anthologize.org/) that works with Wordpress that has potential to make the publishing of PDF, ePub easily done in a blogging platform software. - alan alan Aug 23, 2010
  • While eBooks have made headway for general reading, the tipping point for education will likely be in the area of electronic textbooks. - alan alan Aug 23, 2010
  • - mark.brown mark.brown Aug 24, 2010 There is a claim that academic text books remain the great cash cow for the publishing industry. See... http://tur-www1.massey.ac.nz/~wwtdu/cadelblog/blog6.php/2010/07/28/future-of-learning-resources-part-3
  • I spoke to a chap in Wiley and Sons recently who denied that going paperless will reduce cost that much. He claims most of the costs with publishing in in editorial and pre-print aspects. I wonder. - stephen.atherton stephen.atherton Aug 30, 2010
  • - mark.brown mark.brown Aug 24, 2010 There is a really important distinction to be made between electronic books and e-book readers. The two are not the same and I would like to see these as separate but related categories. For example, there are several large projects to digitize existing printed works which are not driven by the growth of e-book readers per se. Also the publishing industry behind the production of ebooks is far more complicated than most people understand and there is a danger of just focusing on the competing ebook reader hardware devices currently on the market. - ninmah ninmah Aug 24, 2010 - I agree. - KeeneH KeeneH Aug 25, 2010 I agree as well. These are two different technologies, but linked as both need each other to a large extent.
  • Separating the electronic book content, especially textbook content, from any particular e-reader is critical for educational adoption. - ninmah ninmah Aug 24, 2010
  • Agreed, eBook content needs to be available in a variety of tools reflecting the variety of purposes and needs of the students and staff using the material. - stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Aug 25, 2010
  • The focus shouldn't be on books alone. Scholarly publishing of course includes journals. The Directory of Open Access Journals lists 4,500; A university library will have access to 50,000. It's a big market ($22 Billion in 2007 UQ librarian Keith Webster tells me) dominated by major publishers and I think we'll see interesting developments here. Already quality popular journals are putting up offerings such as "The Monthly". And others are creating editions with dynamic media such as "Gourmet Traveller". This is certainly a feeling the recent Australian "Report and Recommendations From the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable" projected. http://www.apo.org.au/research/report-and-recommendations-scholarly-publishing-roundtable Academic libraries have some way to go - in my opinion it's only since the most recent Kindle and the iPad that we have gotten close to an appropriate reader and an efficient distribution mechanism. Some library work shows that there is at least interest, but pre-dates these newer solutions - ANZ paper is http://www.vala.org.au/vala2010/papers2010/VALA2010_36_Wells_Final.pdf and U.S. example http://www.dlib.org/dlib/july01/snowhill/07snowhill.html - stephen.atherton stephen.atherton Aug 30, 2010
  • - mark.brown mark.brown Aug 31, 2010 The emergence of a new business model through the rental of textbooks to students which substantially reduces their costs. See.... http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/08/31/ebooks
  • the fact that personal and professional information will be accessible from the same device - a further collapsing of the distinction between the work/study world and the personal world. - michael.coughlan michael.coughlan Aug 31, 2010
  • the best way to interact with book companies - customisation of content - cost effective access. The publishers hold much of the current power. - philip.poronnik philip.poronnik Sep 2, 2010

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • There should be more impact when/if eBooks are used in a way that allows more sharing/commenting or collaboration around electronic texts. - alan alan Aug 23, 2010
  • Agree with this Alan. I think the potential lies in the links, annotations, activities, multimedia, mapping etc etc that can enhance the text itself - robyn.jay robyn.jay Aug 23, 2010 This is the kind of thing that differentiates electronic text from printed text -- especially the links -- and I agree that it's one of the key advantages of e-books. Or will be, once it's easy for readers to do. - ninmah ninmah Aug 24, 2010
  • - mark.brown mark.brown Aug 24, 2010 The technology could reinforce the old transmission metaphor of teaching by delivering content to relatively passive learners. In other words, using the latest 21st century technology but in accordance with 1950s style pedagogy. Alternatively, institutions and teachers have the opportunity to fundamentally rethink the way learners engage with content and study materials. There could be a greater emphasis on blended approaches to learning where technology decisions are grounded on the principles of the needs of specific cohorts of learners in particular disciplines and the mix that is best to achieve the desired learning intentions. Sadly, the former scenario is more likely to occur as technology is assimilated within existing approaches to teaching and learning. In this case, creative applications remain rare, random acts of innovation, which do not scale and are unsustainable in large institutions.
  • I agree about the annotation points, particularly the social version, but I remember the issues faced by the companies that have tried to do this online - many publishers are resistant to uncontrolled commentary of any sort. consider that the current print copyright licences prevent us modifying the original in any way before distributing. - stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Aug 25, 2010
  • These technologies give students more flexibility for using the content. While annotation and sharing features are still in infancy, these will mature and enable e-readers to handle the content on them in better ways that will be efficient and help students link data together, share notes with instructors and students, and to also carry around large volumes of information that can be accessed on e-readers. The impact could be that students can more easily access and utilize information from different sources (different e-books) on a single e-reader. - KeeneH KeeneH Aug 25, 2010
  • do we need to worry about the fact that the use of ebooks might have an impact on how often people read books and other printed material? eBooks will contain lots of potentially distracting non work/study content and encourage multitasking. Books are a single purpose/focus object. Consider the data emerging about whether multitasking/use of electronic devices is interfering with our brains' ability to focus in depth and reflect on what we are reading or concentrating on..... - michael.coughlan michael.coughlan Aug 31, 2010
  • I agree with Michael's concerns, however, when these are taken into account there should be excellent opportunities for students to create, interpret and share their understanding of their readings etc. - philip.poronnik philip.poronnik Sep 2, 2010

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • At USQ (University of Southern Queensland), one of the main differences noted between USQ and the reported trials in the literature is that USQ has its own book-length materials under institutional control - thus we are exploring how useful these materials are on mobile devices and whether the various ebook formats are able to deliver them effectively. Ebook packaging is now built into the content authoring system, ICE (Integrated Content Environment). - shirley.reushle shirley.reushle Aug 28, 2010
  • I believe the girls high school St Hildas on the Gold Coast has made a deal with the largest school text book publisher, Jacaranda (part of Wiley and Sons) to supply all textbooks in digital format. Certainly it looks like Notre dame in the U.S.is taking this "paperless" approach http://newsinfo.nd.edu/news/16512-notre-dame-launches-ereader-study-creates-first-paperless-course/ - stephen.atherton stephen.atherton Aug 30, 2010
  • Massey University has some pilot initiatives underway... http://www.massey.ac.nz/?wae221142e - mark.brown mark.brown Aug 31, 2010

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