We keep hearing about the boom in e-book sales, especially in the USA, but according to an article in Mind/Shift (Why aren't students using e-books?) students aren't using them as much as expected. You could interpret this as evidence that they prefer print format but the truth seems to be the lack of course literature available in e-format. A survey by e-book provider eBrary shows that e-book sales to students have leveled off over the last three years, whereas the mainstream fiction market for e-books is growing rapidly. But it's not because students don't want e-books; it's simply too complicated. According to the eBrary survey:
vast majority of students would choose electronic over print if it were
available and if better tools along with fewer restrictions were
Firstly there's a reluctance by
publishers to release e-book versions of profitable textbooks and when
they are available they cost almost as much as the print versions,
despite the problem that you can't lend your e-book or resell it after
the course as you can with a printed version. Then there are all the
different formats available for different e-book readers, iPads and
tablets. It's simply too time consuming and expensive and you can't just
buy all your e-books from one place.
becoming increasingly vocal against the high cost of textbooks and their
built-in obsolescence - since they're revised each year the second-hand
value is zero. E-books are the obvious way forward but the business
model needs changing. Publishers are of course reluctant to give up a
very lucrative business but the growth of free course literature on Wikibooks or Flat World Knowledge
is a significant disruptive force. Integration with social media to
create social reading also needs to be developed. The industry needs to
streamline and focus on new models rather than simply preserving the traditional model.
it does highlight the ways in which students’ needs aren’t being met
yet by digital content providers. That means there’s still a huge
opportunity here to reshape what the textbooks of the future look like.
Openly licensed content, for example, could address students’ concerns
about sharing. Better social tools could help meet their needs for
social reading and learning. Open educational resources could provide
content, while an iTunes model of sorts — one that sold the “song” (or
rather the chapter) rather than the “album” (the whole book) could
save students money."
by Stefan BÃ¤smann