More on E-Books and Higher Ed

There have been a number of recent announcements on new e-book readers to compete with the Kindle and the Sony Reader. Barnes & Noble is introducing a reader and Korean conglomerate Samsung will also be putting out a reader. I also saw a mention that Apple’s tablet computer will likely serve as a reader as well.

Our friend’s over a Schumpeter’s Century pointed out a recent WSJ article on the use of e-books by universities. From their post:

The article gives the impression that results were about mixed, at best. So many students are used to video and other supplemental online content that the e-books seem antiquated relative to a similarly sized netbook. But in general, it seems like many students were happy enough to be rid of their textbooks. It looks like the question will be what device students end up using, rather than print vs. digital.

I agree with their point that digital is the futue, and this is good for entrepreneurs and students as physical books are incredibly costly and continue to be one of the greatest expenses in the higher education basket of goods that students and families struggle with.

Here is a link to the original WSJ article on e-book pilot programs by Ryan Knutson and Geoffrey A. Fowler. Here is a snippet:

Proponents tout e-books’ potential to do things that old-fashioned textbooks can’t. Since e-books aren’t printed and don’t need to be sold through physical distributors, they should theoretically be less expensive than regular books and can save students and schools money. What’s more, e-textbooks are environmentally friendly, can lighten backpacks and keep learning materials current.

But the transition has sparked controversy among some educators. They say that digital reading comes with drawbacks, including an expensive starting price for e-book readers and surprisingly high prices for digital textbooks. Also, publishers make e-texts difficult to share and print, and it is unclear how well students will adapt to reading textbooks on a screen, some say. The earliest versions of these devices lack highlighting, note-taking and sharing capabilities, and one leading provider’s e-books expire after several months, meaning they can’t be kept for future reference.

So surprised that people are pushing back on this innovation. From publishers to student groups.

I also love how people always claim ‘e’ things are better for the environment. Really, how do we make all the parts for e-readers (screens, chips, plastic bodies)? What about the batteries/electricity we use to charge them? Not sure which is worse (text versus e-book), but I always find the ‘green’ argument to be ignoring the realities of producing and powering electronic devices.


One thought on “More on E-Books and Higher Ed

  1. Pingback: More Disruptions in the Textbook Market « Campus Entrepreneurship

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