Digital reading devices continue to gain popularity and with them, sites and services that offer various e-reading and e-learning platforms. One of the newest e-book and e-reading services, Copia, offers users the opportunity to curate their own digital library, share their books with others and have real-time online discussions with other readers. Copia is the only social platform that allows users to bookmark pages, highlight text or write notes and subsequently share these ideas with other users, all online.
eBooks are gaining popularity and universities are noticing. Houston based Rice University is the latest to contribute some of its printed collections to the digital reading platform at iTunes U. Rice’s recent eBook contributions include books on varying subjects ranging from statistics to music theory. Rice University is certainly not the first to start contributing books for open, digital publication. The U.K.’s online Open University and Oxford University are two of the largest contributors to iTunes U digital library.
The first bookless library may soon be followed by the first bookless classrooms. Florida’s Daytona State College is trying to become the nation’s first all e-textbook campus. The school, which currently uses digital texts in computer science, economics, and English courses, has been working since 2009 to become 100 % digital. One of the most prominent reasons for the school’s switch to digital is to “save academic careers cut short when students can’t afford their books.”
Although E-books are still a relatively new phenomenon, the National Association of College Stores is anticipating a 10% to 15% increase in e-book usage among colleges by 2012. Until now, though, e-books (specifically e-textbooks) have had a decidedly lukewarm reception from students.
Amazon recently announced that plans are in the works to allow Kindle user to lend their E-books. The Amazon Kindle, one of the first and most popular E-readers, had previously prohibited users from sharing their downloaded reading. One criticism many E-reader users voiced was the inability to share books with their fellow users, one advantage of the printed book that many E-readers didn’t offer.
For E-Books to be successful, argues Wired contributor Chris Suellentrop, they must be rentable. One of the most criticized aspects of E-Books is the inability to share or send downloaded books to friends as readers often do with paper copies.
Often called the “biggest scam” in higher education textbooks are rarely a popular or cheap buy for students. An annual textbook bill can easily cost students more than $900. A new incentive which is trying to make textbooks free online or available in print for a fraction of the original cost could save students $700 or more, says a new study.
Scholastic, publishers of the popular Harry Potter series, recently conducted a study comprised of more than 2,000 children ages 6-17 and their parents which explored the attitudes and behaviors of kids and parents towards reading for fun in a highly digital age.
Publishers and authors are attempting to attract new readers with the enhanced “e-book.” More a multimedia product than a traditional printed text, e-books allow readers to download books or other publications of their choice (the Amazon Kindle, for example, had more than 650,000 books available for download as of July 2010) and access other types of digital media.