This blog is dedicated to the topics of Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education. it is intended as an information source for the college store industry, or anyone interested in how course materials are changing. Suggestions for discussion topics or news stories are welcome.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

2008 Horizon Report

The Horizon 2008 Report is now available for downloading and viewing. Here is the main report description:

"The main sections of the report describe six emerging technologies or practices that will likely enter mainstream use in learning-focused organizations within three adoption horizons over the next one to five years. Also highlighted are a set of challenges and trends that will influence our choices in the same time frames...The two technologies placed on the first adoption horizon in this edition, grassroots video and collaboration webs, are already in use on many campuses. Examples of these are not difficult to find. Applications of mobile broadband and data mashups, both on the mid-term horizon, are evident in organizations at the leading edge of technology adoption, and are beginning to appear at many institutions. Educational uses of the two topics on
the far-term horizon, collective intelligence and social operating systems, are understandably rarer; however, there are examples in the worlds of commerce, industry and entertainment that hint at coming use in academia within four to five years."

They have some interesting new features this year. Including a wiki to discuss the project and the use of tagging standards, so that you can add examples of your own using del.icio.us. They also have some other things planned for April/May. In addition to analyzing the MetaTrends of the last 5 years, this report outlines the major emerging technologies for college level education in the next five years. This year's list includes:

1 year or less
Grassroots Video
Collaboration Webs

2-3 years
Mobile Broadband
Data Mashups

4-5 years
Collective Intelligence
Social Operating Systems

The main report is available at: http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2008-Horizon-Report.pdf
The wiki is available at: http://horizon.nmc.org/wiki/Main_Page
The del.icio.us tags are available at:

Grassroots Video http://del.icio.us/tag/hz08+video
Collaboration Webs http://del.icio.us/tag/hz08+virtualcollab
Mobile Broadband http://del.icio.us/tag/hz08+mobile
Data Mashups http://del.icio.us/tag/hz08+mashups
Collective Intelligence http://del.icio.us/tag/hz08+collectiveintelligence
Social Operating Systems http://del.icio.us/tag/hz08+socialos

A good number of our members read and commented on this report last year. Some of the trends are interesting and perhaps something our stores can take advantage of...

Monday, January 28, 2008

The end of reading -- according to Mr. Jobs

Steve Jobs recently commented that people do not read anymore, so any e-reader product is doomed to fail -- since none of us read. That's bad news for the textbook business, where most of what we sell is reading material.

There is an interesting editorial/response to Mr. Job's recent statements in Ad Age this week. As a rebuttal, it is worth a quick read. I think the rebuttal makes some worthwhile points to consider -- how the Kindle has sparked peoples' interest (at least at a novelty level), and even more so in the points related to "what is reading?", and that the point is about getting text -- whether from magazines, newspapers, books, or blogs anywhere and on demand. Anywhere and on demand -- relevant words for our industry in the year(s) ahead. What do those terms mean to your store?

Something to think about as you read the Ad Age article at:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

IBM -- predictions of the future...

There is an interesting piece today on some of IBM's top predictions for emerging technologies. Real or science fiction? You decide. One of the interesting items on the list is #4: Our cell phones will be our wallet, ticket broker, concierge, bank, shopping buddy and more. We are already seeing some of this in the college store environment. Or consider the ability to take your iPhone into Starbucks, hear a song you like and have the device be able to tell what is playing and allow you to immediately purchase and download the tune while you wait for your latte to be served up. What will these advances in mobile commerce mean for college stores and our customers?

For the full article on IBM's predictions, see: http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/35049/118/

A new e-reader -- gone mobile and flexible

Okay, here is a device I want. The Readius. Not only does it bring in the new highly flexible organic display technology -- but does so in a mobile phone! It is described as a merge of the Kindle or Sony reader and a mobile phone.

This is probably the first commercially available application of organic displays for e-readers, certainly in combination with mobile phone technology. It is being produced by Polymer Vision -- a Dutch company that spun off from Phillips.

You can see a video presentation of the technology via YouTube at the following location:

Another blog of interest

Perhaps it is bad form to recommend another blog for readers, but here is one full of articles and entries that would be of interest to our members. The blog author, Martyn Daniels, is one of the lead authors for the "Brave New World" report published by the Bookseller's Association of the UK and Ireland. In the past month there have been several interesting postings on print on demand and the concept of chunking. For readers looking for more regular or additional postings or sources of information, check out Martyn's blog at:


But please come back again! As readership grows (and my travel schedule has breaks) I will add more entries. This could be a good forum for us to discuss digital content issues within the college store environment.

The Future of DRM

DRM -- that is Digital Rights Management for the lay person. DRM captures the set of technologies and business models for protecting intellectual property and that controls the uses and distribution of digital content.

There is an interesting article from the Wharton Business School today on the future of DRM from a business model perspective. It is an interesting read, along with some of the commentary offered by readers. The Wharton experts conclude that DRM is not going away, despite recent developments in the music industry. Instead, the DRM components will likely just become less intrusive. This is good or interesting news for those of us interested in digital course materials, where students have reported that current DRM approaches represent an obstacle to adoption.

The article can be found at: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=1882

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Longer Life batteries

There was an interesting story today about a revolutionary breakthrough in battery life for mobile devices -- from laptops to ipods. Stanford University researchers found a way to increase battery life by about 10 times! That could make devices even more portable and further support the move to mobile technologies for a wider range of applications.

Check out the full story at: http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9584_22-6226196.html

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Embracing the Digital Age

Some of you who know me will recall last November when I suggested reading the "Brave New World" report produced by the Booksellers Association of the UK and Ireland. The earlier report gave a good overview of much of the digital industry, key trends, some action items for stores and associations, as well as other information. I suggested it as "required reading" at the time, particularly a subset of the chapters. That report is still available by clicking the link under the "Title Waves" section on this blog.

About two weeks ago the Booksellers Association released a follow-up report from their taskforce on the topic. The new report is entitled " Embracing the Digital Age: An Opportunity for Booksellers and the Book Trade". I have placed a link to this report in the "Title Wave" section of this blog as well.

This new report is very much worth your time to read if you are a bookseller today. It is a much shorter and strategic-action oriented report. There are notable overlaps with some of the recommendations and directions of our own digital content strategic planning taskforce. Of the ten key proposals outlined in the executive summary, at least 8 directly connect with some of our discussions in various areas of NACS. The report is effectively and clearly written and well worth your time to peruse.

The aspect of the report I found most interesting is the concept of developing an "enhanced trade infrastructure" to support bookstores in the digital space. We have other initiatives designed to support that concept as well, such as a new project with Caravan being supported by the NACS Foundation -- but more on that in a subsequent posting. The new report identifies ten proposals for improving the trade infrastructure among stores for digital. To quote the report briefly, these proposals are:

1. Websites. A bookshop must have an integrated on-line presence with the capacity for financial transactions, or it is not realising its full capability in selling books. These websites have two prime functions: as trading systems allowing customers to buy online and as community notice-boards.

2. Customer-facing information service. A new information service should be developed to allow booksellers to mix information from the professional bibliographic databases with elements from publishers' marketing sources to present titles on their websites in a more appropriate way to customers, and where the customer does not leave the bookseller's website.

3. The bookshop as the hub of the local community. The use of digital techniques will raise the profile of the bookshop as the essential information centre in the local community.

4. A title alert system for account customers. A title recommendation system should be developed, to alert customers to new or backlist titles recommended by the bookseller that reflects the customer's buying interests and allows them to browse the title online before buying.

5. A grid system for categorising bookshops. The trade must develop a categorisation system for booksellers across the country to allow the efficient targeting of digital marketing messages and information.

6. Enabling booksellers to sell digital content. Faced with a proliferation of digital content, many consumers will need advice and guidance from a source they know and trust. This will provide an opportunity for booksellers to extend their relationship with their customers in the digital world.

7. Market research. There should be a programme of research so that the changing patterns of consumer behaviour can be understood and monitored.

8. Getting the digitisation message accepted. The positive message about the digital opportunity must be sold to the book trade via regular newsletters e-mailed to booksellers and publishers to keep them up to date with developments; in addition, there should be trade press briefings, a series of trade forums, and a major conference early in 2008 to debate and agree the proposals in the report.

9. Training. Booksellers will need to develop their specialist skills (e.g. digital marketing; advising customers on digital content).

10. Experimentation. The trade must be prepared to undergo a significant period of experimentation.

To learn more about each of the proposals, please check out the report using the link provided under the "title wave" section of this blog.

We plan to reach out to the BA of UK/IRE early this year to see how we might collaborate on achieving some of these proposals. I am interesed in hearing from potential partners interested in working with us on some of these initiatives -- or from stores who have ideas on how we might help accomplish some of these goals.

Welcome to 2008!

Hi Everyone,

Sorry for a silent December. Things continue to be very busy in the digital space. I was glad to see the last article on Blackboard engendered the start of discussion. It looks like someone is really out there and sometimes reading what's on this blog!

Well, as I mentioned, there are many interesting developments over the past month. The Kindle, of course was big news. According to one news report, the initial supply sold out in 5 days, leaving Amazon with a 7 day back-order period while they rushed to get more devices. It will be interesting to see what happens with the device this year -- and its impact on e-book sales.

I will be traveling for the next 4-5 days, but I have several posts saved up for this forum. If you subscribe to the blog, you should receive an e-mail when new posts are entered. One of the topics to report on are the new report from the UK-Ireland Booksellers Association. This is a must-read report for anyone interested in how traditional stores will prepare for a future with more digital product. Another upcoming post will relate to the new project between NACS and Caravan. Of course, developments with CourseSmart in the last two months will also be of interest. We have several use cases that stores contributed, which I will post here for feedback (and additional submissions). Finally, NACS Taskforce on digital content is making progress. That work is due to our Board at the end of February -- but I will provide a brief glimpse into the taskforce work and direction here soon.

All this and more is coming soon. I will endeavor to become more regular in my blogging activity in the New Year. I will not claim that to be my New Year's resolution -- as I would not want to jinx the efforts too early. I would love some assistance though -- if someone would like to work with me on this blog, or has a story or thought to contribute, please drop me a note or post to this message.

Best wishes to all for a very happy 2008!