Another dot in the blogosphere?

E-book, yes; e-textbook, no?

Posted on: September 9, 2011

Two articles have led me to this still formative conclusion. The first is this Wired article and the second is by RRW.

The Wired article outlined why e-textbooks sales are still relatively stagnant: Sharing restrictions, e-textbook piracy, platform fragmentation and unclear e-textbook adoption policies. I’d add that secondhand textbooks might also be cheaper than e-textbooks.

Just over a year ago, I read about how e-book sales in Amazon outstripped hardcovers. This year the e-book sales overtook paperbacks. I’m guessing that the sales were more for e-books than for e-textbooks.

The RRW article described how readers might able to ask authors questions directly in the Kindle. This was something I described as level 2 in my spectrum of e-book types. This is also something that might contribute to greater adoption of e-books.

There are schools in the US that have purchased iPads and the primary purpose of these devices is to serve as e-book viewers. I do not see those students wanting to interact with, say, an author of a Math e-textbook to clarify a process. But I do see them interacting with someone like J K Rowling on her next book.

So what might e-textbook creators and publishers do to stay relevant? Provide social tools in e-books for learners to share notes, discuss problems, contact their peers and teachers, etc. Incorporating multimedia interactivity in e-textbooks is one thing; integrating social interactivity is another.

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