The Digi-Cult

A New Religion for a Digital Age

An E-Book Proposition

Posted by Shannon O'Grady on November 10, 2008

The new Sony Reader PRS 700 has touch screen note taking abilties, and is only 6 inches long.  It lacks colour though.

The new Sony Reader PRS 700 has touch screen note taking abilities, and is only 6 inches long. It lacks colour though. For more on this reader click here

I was flipping through a magazine at the doctors office the other day and read a quick review on an E-book reader, which got me thinking.

E-books, for those not in the know are books in digital form.  They can be likened to PDF’s or scanned images of a paper book, but an E-Book is formatted like a cross between a PDF and a Word Document.  Long story short you can read the E-book page by page just like a regular book, can highlight things on it (if your reader allows the function) and can save your place so you can come back to it later.  It’s not a terribly revolutionary concept I know, and that’s most likeley why we don’t hear alot about it.

E-books cost about as much as the average paperback, or less depending on the licencing.  This cost is the main turn off for most people who don’t see the point of paying for digital content, just like they don’t see the point of paying for an MP3.  And maybe for the average reader I can understand that, but I have a question.

Why aren’t we doing E-books for post secondary textbooks?

Textbooks cost a fortune, are used for one class and then either resold or left in a corner to collect dust.  They’re bulk, heavy, easily damaged and take a ton of materials to make.  So why aren’t we using E-books instead.

Imagine picking up a small E-book reader and having all your textbooks in it.  A purse sized object holds a semester’s worth of knowledge.  You can highlight on them, and if you have the right interface even scribble notes on the digital pages.  Imagine how little it would cost.  The reader would be the biggest investment but it would be reusable over the years.  Each textbook would cost a fraction of it’s current cost because you simply pay

Programs like Mobipocket allow those using non specialized readers to annotate thier e-books easily

Programs like Mobipocket allow those using non specialized readers to annotate their e-books easily

for the license not the materials used to produce it.  Imagine the environmental benefits of not cutting down the trees needed for each book.

I’m sure if a program doesn’t already exist, one could be developed that could transfer your highlighting into a word document.  Instant notes.

I propose we work at getting publishers and post secondary institutions to look in to at least making E-books an option. Now I know there are problems that need to be solved for this to work.  Mainly that there needs to be further improvements in digital readers such as colour screens and more touchscreen capabilities, and the cost of E-books needs to drop to really reflect licensing fees, but because we’re looking at this for educational purposes arrangements on all of the above may be made.  We all know that companies look to affiliate with post secondary institutions to look good.

Thank you all for listening to my ramblings, now post yours and lets try to think this through, and maybe into existance.

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2 Responses to “An E-Book Proposition”

  1. mikecane said

    Textbooks have been cited for years and years and years.

    To keep up on developments like this, see Teleread: http://www.teleread.org/blog

    Search on textbook there for past posts.

  2. Shannon O'Grady said

    Thanks for the great link Mikecane! I have no idea how that didn’t come up in my research.

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