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.

The site uses Google's cookies to provide services and analyze traffic. Your IP address and user agent are shared with Google, along with performance and security statistics to ensure service quality, generate usage statistics, detect abuse and take action.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Popular newspapers and magazines available on the Sony Reader Daily Edition

According to a recent press release, customers that own the new Sony Reader Daily Edition will be able to access many popular newspapers and magazines on their devices. Users can currently purchase a single paper or a monthly subscription to The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune. In the coming weeks, users will be able to access an additional 16 newspapers/magazines and Sony says that more publications will follow. According to Sony’s website, the Reader Daily Edition is currently backordered due to high demand and expected to ship on January 15, 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Review of the Nook e-reader

Engadget recently featured a comprehensive review of the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader. The review includes information about how the device compares to the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader. There are also several photos and a video demo. Engadget’s overall take is, “In the end, the Nook is an intriguing product launched by a powerful force in the world of booksellers, but the initial offering feels long on promises and short on delivery. With the right software revisions, the Nook could be a tsunami, but as it stands right now, it's only a mild swell.”

As mentioned previously, the Nook sold out just weeks after its debut and well before the holiday season. The current expected ship date for new orders is February 1, 2010. For those of you that want to see the device in person, your local B&N may have a counter set up where you can try out the device.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kindle books outsell paper books on Christmas day

Last month, Amazon announced that November was the best sales month ever for the Kindle but by December 17th the record was already broken and December became the new best selling month. The Amazon news release does not include actual sales figures but says that the “Kindle has become the most gifted item in Amazon’s history.” Amazon also announced that on Christmas Day, for the first time, customers purchased more Kindle books than paper books. A posting on Wired points out that customers that received Kindles as gifts were probably more likely to make purchases on Christmas day than other shoppers were to log-in to Amazon and purchase paper books. However, it is still a significant milestone for both e-books and Amazon. We expect that the new year will bring many more announcements and milestones for both e-books and e-readers companies.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy holidays!

Due to some illness and some scheduled time off, Liz and I will have few postings to the blog over the next week. As the end of the first decade of the millenium approaches, we would like to thank our readers -- both new and returning. We are nearing our 600th post, with over 30 thousand unique visitors from 149 countries, many of whom return regularly.

Blog postings will resume with regularity January 4th. If there are stories or topics you would like to see covered more in 2010, let us know. If you would like more commentary or information on a topic, we will provide that if we can. Based on a continously growing readership, we hope that we are doing something right. However, feedback from you will help us to continue improving.

Best wishes to all for a happy holiday season, and we look forward to exhanging more information with you in 2010.

Best regards,

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ed Tech predictions

In a recent posting on Education Week's blog they reference an article in the THE Journal which outlines five ed-tech trends expected to gain traction in 2010:

1. eBooks will continue to proliferate.
2. Netbook functionality will grow.
3. More teachers will use interactive whiteboards.
4. Personal devices will infiltrate the classroom.
5. Technology will enable tailored curricula.

It does seem that some of these predictions are a bit optimistic, but certainly we are already seeing growing interest and movement on the first two -- e-books and netbooks. Lately it seems like a plethora of e-book readers, netbooks, and "SmartBook" vendors are starting to come forward with a "solution" for digital textbook delivery and reading. It will be interesting to see where these go.

The Education Week blog also referenced another interesting blog posting by Barry Bachenheimer. He weighs in on some of the challenges that will need to be overcome for these predictions to come true from a k-12 perspective. The story for higher education could be quite different.

If you had to pick 5 technologies likely to change higher education, or perhaps college stores, within the next year, what would they be?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Digital textbook websites

The folks at DegreeDirectory have compiled a list of their top ten picks for the best places to buy digital textbooks online. The companies at the top of the list are: Zinio, Cengage Brain (iChapters), and Coursemart. The posting also includes a few links to free textbook websites.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Batteries of the future

Here’s an interesting innovation that could further change electronics such as e-readers in the years to come. Wired Science recently featured an article that says that scientists have successfully made batteries out of plain paper and nanomaterials. This research brings scientists closer to the development of printable batteries that could actually be molded into computers, cell phones, or solar panels. Can you imagine? Someday in the future we might be able to print our own batteries at home. What would happen to the battery industry and how would it affect so many other industries?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Trade publishers delay release of e-books

Last week, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette Book Group all announced that they will delay the e-book versions of some of their best selling titles due to the concern that e-books sales are cannibalizing hardcover sales. Simon & Schuster and Hachette Book Group plan to delay the books three to four months while HarperCollins will delay the books four to six weeks. In an article from the Wall Street Journal, Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster commented, “The right place for the e-book is after the hardcover but before the paperback. We believe some people will be disappointed. But with new [electronic] readers coming and sales booming, we need to do this now, before the installed base of e-book reading devices gets to a size where doing it would be impossible." David Young, chief executive of Hachette Book Group, added, “We're doing this to preserve our industry. I can't sit back and watch years of building authors sold off at bargain-basement prices. It's about the future of the business." If other publishers follow their lead, e-books could be placed in the publishing cycle after the release of the hardcover but before the release of the paperback. However, analysts warn that this model may only work for the short term and withholding e-books may upset buyers.

In a second article from Wall Street Journal, James McQuivey, principal analyst for Consumer Media Technology at Forrester Research Inc., commented, “Every once in a while, a media business that appears to understand the digital reality quickly reverts under pressure and starts acting like a last-century business. If you give people digital content, they'll actually consume more of it. But if you withhold it from them, you are motivating them to buy somebody else's book, or to consider piracy, something which hasn't yet hit the book industry but probably will next year."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Flat World Knowledge announces partnership with Bookshare

In recent months, open access course materials and textbook accessibility have been two important topics in the news and now two companies are joining forces to make open textbooks available to students with print disabilities. Earlier this week, Flat World Knowledge announced a partnership with Bookshare, the largest free online library for people with print disabilities. Bookshare currently has agreements with many trade publishers but Flat World will be the first publisher of higher education materials to supply digital textbooks to the organization.

According to the press release, Flat World will provide Bookshare with XML files so that the files can be converted to DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) and Braille formats. Students will be able to access the texts in multiple formats directly from Bookshare’s website which will eliminate the conversion efforts required by individual campuses for those specific titles. Students will also be able to access the texts when the semester begins rather than waiting weeks for the titles to be converted. According to the agreement, eleven business and economics textbooks will be available initially and within the next two years, an additional fifty titles in several subjects will be added.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

October 2009 e-book sales statistics

E-book sales statistics for October 2009 have been released by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) via IDPF. October 2009 trade e-book sales were $18.5 million which is highest single month thus far and a 254.3% increase over October 2008. IDPF reports calendar year to date revenue is up 180.7% for the year. Note that these figures represent the 12 to 15 trade book publishers who have been willing to supply their data to IDPF.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cool-er e-reader to gain wireless capabilities next year

Last week, Interead, maker of the Cool-er e-reader, partnered with AT&T to bring 3G high speed wireless to the e-readers. According to the press release, two versions of the new device will be available in mid 2010; a 3G version and a WiFi version. Interead has also announced a partnership with NewspaperDirect to make over 1300 newspapers and magazines available on the current Cool-er model and the new device.

The Cool-er has received mixed reviews in recent months. While the device comes in eight colors, is available in eight languages, and can handle EPUB, PDF, TXT, and JPEG files, reviewers say that the device is not made as well as other e-readers and navigation is extremely difficult. Interead has not said if any of these features will be modified in the next generation device.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A pen to link paper to digital

Advertising Age recently featured an interesting video clip of Livescribe’s CEO Jim Marggraff demonstrating the company’s Pulse Smartpen. The Smartpen looks like an ordinary pen but also includes a processor, 1-4 GB of storage, speaker, audio jack, microphone, camera, OLED display, and USB connector. When the pen is used with special paper, the camera tracks the movement of anything that is written or drawn while recording audio. The audio can be played back later by touching the pen to portions of the notes. The notes can also be emailed via a link, shared on Facebook, or embedded directly on the web. This is a really interesting concept and one that college students may find particularly useful. At the end of the video, Marggraff also discusses some interesting new ideas that the company is working on including: interactive business cards, interactive print magazines, and the ability to make purchases via the pen. The video is worth a watch to hear the description of these ideas.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Good resource for e-reader and e-book info

ComputerWorld has added a great new reference page to their website that lists all of their latest articles and blog posts about e-books and e-readers. You can access the page here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Five technology trends to watch in 2010

A recent article from Campus Technology features five higher education technology trends to watch in 2010. The trends are: more interactive classrooms, more information at your fingertips, mashed-up technologies, breaking out of technology isolation, and capabilities that go beyond 1:1. The trends are worth a read through. There are a few interesting items to note including the prediction that next year there will be demand for technologies that make the classroom more dynamic and engaging. Some examples of these technologies are: multimedia content, classroom response systems, and streaming video. We will also begin to see technologies such as smart phones and e-readers influence the way classes are taught because the devices give students and teachers access to any information they need in seconds. Several universities implemented pilots this year to provide students with these technologies and we will likely see more pilots next year as the technology improves and new devices are introduced. It addition, it is predicted that we will see “capabilities that go beyond 1:1.” The traditional 1:1 computing which is the use of one device to handle one task, will be replaced with 4:1 computing as students use more devices and technologies than ever before. Technologies such as netbooks, online education, social networking, smart phones, and podcasts will all continue to be important tools next year.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

JooJoo tablet to be released tomorrow

According to ComputerWorld, the CrunchPad tablet that we talked about in a previous posting, will hit the market tomorrow under the new name JooJoo. The tablet was developed by TechCrunch and FusionGarage but in recent weeks the companies have parted ways and been battling over who owns the intellectual property rights to the device. According to the article, FusionGarage will release the device without TechCrunch however a lawsuit is likely underway.

The tablet was designed as a simple, touch screen LCD device for surfing the web, video chat, and light e-mail, and is said to include a 12.1 inch color touch screen with an on-screen keyboard. According to the CEO of Fusion Garage, Chandra Rathakrishnan, the device can also be used as an e-reader and they are in talks with some “very exciting” companies to bring specially designed content to the device. The article notes that the device has 4 GB of storage to be used solely for storing cached information from the browser but it is not clear if e-books could actually be stored on the device. It is possible that the new digital format for magazines that we discussed yesterday could be made available on this device. The JooJoo is expected to be available online tomorrow and could hit retail shelves in the future.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Magazine publishers form joint venture to create digital format

Last week, Time Inc. released a video demo of an impressive digitized version of a Sports Illustrated issue and All Things Digital reported that the company is working on digital versions of all its magazine titles that are designed to “run on whatever tablet Apple or any[one] else has up their sleeves.”

An article from eSchool News is now reporting that Time, News Corp., Conde Nast, Hearst Corp., and Meredith Corp., have formed a joint venture to create a digital format that will work on a variety of devices. The features of the format include those which are demonstrated in the Sports Illustrated video including: the ability to retain the look and layout of the magazine, colorful graphics, videos, games, and social networking capabilities. The companies plan to begin selling content in the new format next year and will target tablet computers, e-readers, and smart phones with color displays. John Squires, the interim managing director for the joint venture, noted that there are devices in development that are suited to the task. In addition, publishers outside of the joint venture will be able to adopt the format.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Amazon to add new features to the Kindle for blind and vision impaired users

On Monday, Amazon announced some good news for blind and vision impaired Kindle users. According to the news release, in the summer of 2010, Amazon will add two new features to the Kindle to make it more useful. The first addition is a font size that is twice the height and width of the current largest font size. The second addition is an audible menu system. The device already features text-to-speech technology but the lack of audible menus makes it difficult for blind users to navigate to the books without assistance. Earlier this year, the National Federation of the Blind urged Amazon to add this feature to the device and in November, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Syracuse University announced that they would not buy any more Kindle devices until the devices were truly accessible to the blind.

In other Amazon news, Jeff Bezos recently provided some interesting numbers in a New York Times interview. When asked about the percentage of digital books sold, Bezos said, “For every 100 copies of a physical book we sell, where we have the Kindle edition, we will sell 48 copies of the Kindle edition. It won’t be too long before we’re selling more electronic books than we are physical books. It’s astonishing.” Bezos also commented on how quickly paper books are migrating to their digital equivalents. “When we launched Kindle two years ago, it was 90,000 titles, and today it’s more than 350,000. We’re adding thousands of titles every week.”

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hybrid e-readers for textbooks

Over the weekend, The New York Times featured an article about the introduction of hybrid e-readers. Hybrid e-readers like the Entourage eDGe have two screens: a black and white E Ink screen for reading and a color LCD screen for viewing images, videos, and the internet. Textbooks are better suited for hybrid e-readers because color graphics and illustrations that are imperative for certain disciplines do not display on dedicated e-readers. On the eDGe device, the two screens are linked so that a user can select an image from the E Ink screen and view it in color on the LCD screen. Users can also view any animations or videos supplied by the publisher.

The eDGe e-reader will be released in February 2010 and it is currently being piloted at Catholic University of America in Washington DC. Other hybrid devices designed for education will likely follow. For now, many students may continue to read e-textbooks on their laptop but as new technologies are introduced this could change. In the NYT article, Allen Weiner, a research vice president with Gartner, commented that dual-screen devices are likely to find a place in the market as long as they have fairly large screens. He also noted that hybrids provide an advantage over reading e-textbooks on most laptops because students can underline the text directly on screen.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sony to launch iTunes competitor

Sony has announced that it will launch an online store for music, movies, books, and applications for Sony e-readers, TV’s, and other devices. Sony has not said when the store will launch or what it will look like but an article from BusinessWeek says it will likely be based on Sony’s PlayStation Network that currently sells video games, TV shows, and movies. Another article from Internet Retailers notes that consumers will also be able to upload and share digital content through the online service.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Something fun

With all the e-reader hype, here is a comic that appeared a few months back that readers of this blog might enjoy. It comes from Free Range by Bill Whitehead -- an often amusing comic that reminds me a bit of the old Far Side comic strip. This comic originally appeared on 9-21-2009 and can be found here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Publishers prepare magazines for tablet

According to All Things Digital, Time Inc. is working on digitized versions of its magazine titles that are designed to “run on whatever tablet Apple or any[one] else has up their sleeves.” Time says that the digital versions will be ready by the middle of next year or before and has released a video demo of a Sports Illustrated issue that is definitely worth watching. The video demonstrates an impressive magazine with interactive videos, graphics, and the ability to share a picture or article with friends via Facebook.

Meanwhile, there are rumors circulating that Time, Conde Nast, and Hearst will form a joint venture to create an “iTunes-like” store for magazines. The store could include over 50 digital magazines that can be read on multiple platforms including Apple and Blackberry devices. An article from The New York Observer notes that if the rumors are true, the joint venture will bring together rival publishers in one of the biggest alliances ever formed in print media. “Each magazine publisher now believes it’s too risky to go it alone to find new ways to get consumers to pay. If they all join together, the reasoning goes, they stand a better chance of producing greater revenue.”

When interactive digital magazines that enhance the print version become available, it will further increase expectations for what digital textbooks should be capable of doing on comparable devices. The availability of such content will also likely further promote netbooks or similar multi-function devices over the mostly single-purpose e-readers on the market today. The willingness of these large competitors to cooperate to save their industry also sends a message about competitive cooperation, or coopetition, that could benefit academic publishers and retailers. Unless we want to see our products and channels go the way of the music, video, and newspaper industries, some creative partnering and solutions are in order.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

National Educational Technology Plan

The National Educational Technology Plan website is a good information source that you may want to take a look at. The Technical Working Group that was appointed by the U.S. Department of Education to develop the plan is working to create a complete draft by the end of 2009 and has identified four main focus areas that are highlighted on the site - learning, assessment, productivity, and teaching. Users can view and comment on the written resources, technology tools, and exemplary cases that have been submitted in each of the areas and can also recommend additional resources or tools. There are some particularly good data resources regarding the OER movement and K-12 technology trends for anyone interested in these topics. For those that wish to submit comments, the deadline has been extended to Sunday, December 6, 2009.

Bookseller.com releases results of digital survey

Bookseller.com has released the results of a survey of 1,080 professionals from the publishing industry that was conducted at its “FutureBook” Digital Conference in London. The results showed that 88% of respondents believe that bookstores will be the sector most affected by the growth in digital sales. Many respondents noted that despite the change, stores can still benefit. “Everyone will gain by making reading easier and more accessible - and by widening the appeal to younger people (i.e. mobile audiences). High street bookshops need to become service providers for readers - technology, some printed books (e.g. children's books, maps, art books), advice, author readings, seminars, learning centres, event hosts, etc."

In regards to sales, 47% of respondents said that less than 10% of their current sales are from e-books. However, by 2025, 16% of respondents believe that 51% of sales will be from digital content and only 5% believe that digital sales will make up less than 10% of total sales.

When asked about e-readers, 52% respondents said that the rumored Apple device will take the lead in the e-reader market even though the device is not currently on the market and has not been confirmed. Amazon ranked second with Sony farther behind. The posting does not mention if the Barnes & Noble Nook was included in the survey.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Forrester’s predictions for 2010

Forrester recently released ten predictions for the e-reader and e-book market in 2010. The posting is worth a read and includes some interesting predictions to take note of. In regards to e-textbooks, Forrester expects that they will become more accessible next year but 2010 will not be the year that they take off due to the lack of content. “Publishers aren’t ready to relinquish control over how their content is sold and displayed. For example, the publisher-owned CourseSmart has a substantial content catalog for online subscription but isn’t available on portable devices other than iPhones, and won’t be available on new, textbook-optimized devices like the Entourage Edge because of the proprietary format and DRM that CourseSmart uses.”

Forrester also expects that Barnes & Noble will sell a significant number of Nook e-readers but Amazon will maintain its position as market leader by launching a suite of new touch-screen e-readers that could be flexible and include color. “Apps” will also continue to be a growing trend next year and more e-books apps will be available on more devices including e-readers. The posting notes, “We wouldn’t be surprised to see Amazon launch a Kindle app store, too. What kind of apps, you say? We think anything from a social-reading app from Goodreads to an enterprise app from Microsoft or Oracle would make e-readers vastly expand the possibilities for consumers and businesses.” In addition, the U.S. will continue to have the biggest market for e-readers and e-books but other countries such as China, India, Brazil, and Europe will begin to catch up and help drive global growth.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Report predicts e-readers will be a major disruptive technology

A new report from research and advisory firm mediaIDEAS says that e-readers are set to become “one of the major disruptive technologies of the 21st century.” In an interview with Publishing Executive, Nick Hampshire, author of the report, discussed some of the key findings and predictions for the market over the next decade. Hampshire expects that within the next year, the number of e-reader devices on the market will double from the 40+ that are available today. Next year, we will likely see flexible e-readers hit the market and flexible color magazine e-readers could be available in 2013. By 2015, Hampshire expects that, “e-paper e-readers will be employed to display virtually any form of printed content from monochrome text heavy office documents and newspapers to high quality full color magazines and brochures with audio and video components.” By 2020, Hampshire says that the e-reader market will be divided into four categories: e-readers for e-books, foldable e-reader communication devices, e-readers for newspapers, and e-readers for magazines. The first two categories will feature devices with 9-inch displays or smaller while the newspaper and magazine e-readers will have displays over 9-inches.

As for sales, it is predicted that e-reader sales will increase to 6 million units in 2010, to 115 million units in 2013, and then to 446 million units by 2020. Hampshire also commented on how e-readers will influence publishing within the next 10 years. Hampshire said, “With the arrival of high-quality color, low cost, large-screen e-readers within the next few years, we are looking at these devices becoming as ubiquitous as today's cell phone. Whilst people will still be buying and reading content printed on paper in 2020, the bulk of the market for magazine content will be for digital publications primarily viewed on reading devices.”

Monday, November 30, 2009

November is the best sales month ever for the Kindle

While the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader is sold out for the holidays, the Kindle is still in stock and breaking sales records. On Monday, Amazon reported via its website, “November is already the best sales month ever for Kindle, even before Cyber Monday.”

Last week, Amazon also announced that a few enhancements have been added to the Kindle. New Kindles will now come with 85 percent more battery life and last about seven days with the wireless turned on or about two weeks with the wireless turned off. New Kindles will also come with a built-in PDF reader. Previously, users had to pay a conversion charge to convert documents from PDFs to the Kindle format. Users will now be able to e-mail the PDFs to their Kindle e-mail address or transfer the documents to the device with a USB connection.

An article from PCWorld, notes that this could make the devices more appealing for business users. Bill Brikiatis, marketing manager for Nuance Communications commented, "This holiday shopping season, ebook readers will be hot products. Ebook reader users will look to sync up the content they use both in work and personal activities on these digital devices." He went on to say, "Business professionals will want to add more content to their ebook readers--business reports and other work documents--following the well-worn path of convergence of personal and business usage on mobile devices."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

“Electronic Schoolbags” in Taiwan

An article from The China Post says that the Ministry of Education in Taiwan has chosen five schools to pilot “electronic schoolbags.” The schoolbags are laptops that include electronic versions of textbooks and handouts. According to Chen Hsuan-mou, principal of one of the pilot schools, the pilot has been positive because the kids typing skills and ability to use search engines has improved along with their moods during class. However, some parents fear that the students are spending more time with the computers and less time playing outside. The article notes the positive and negative impacts of the pilot will be assessed before more classes are incorporated.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

iclicker partners with Educational Resources

According to a recent press release, iclicker, maker of the student response system used at more than 700 higher education institutions, has partnered with Educational Resources to bring the response system into K-12 classrooms. Renee Altier, iclicker’s managing director commented, “Although our origins are in higher education, iclicker's core philosophy -- simplicity and pedagogy -- is equally valuable for students and teachers in K-12 settings. We are excited to be working with Educational Resources, who are seasoned experts in the K-12 channel." The agreement also includes the alignment of iclicker’s system with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Google Edition to launch in Japan

In October, Google announced that its Google Edition program that will let publishers sell in-print digital books directly to consumers will launch in the U.S. and Europe in June 2010. According to MarketWatch, the program will also launch in Japan by the end of next year. It is hoped that 10,000 e-books will be available when the service launches. The article notes that leading publishers in Japan are wary of the program due to the controversy surrounding Google Book Search.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

University of Arizona purchases Espresso Book Machine 2.0

The University of Arizona BookStore has produced a video of their newly installed Espresso Book Machine 2.0. The store hopes that the machine will provide the community with services that were not previously offered and help to lower the price of certain textbooks.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Judge grants preliminary approval of Google Book Settlement

Earlier this month, Google, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers submitted a revised version of the Google Book Settlement. The new draft is intended to resolve the U.S. Justice Department’s concerns that the settlement would violate copyright law and give Google an unfair advantage. According to the Digits blog, Judge Denny Chin has granted preliminary approval of the amended settlement and has set the hearing for February 18, 2010. However, many groups do not believe that the revisions are enough and feel that Google could still have a monopoly on orphan works or those which are under copyright but out-of-print and the rights holders are unknown or can not be located.

According to an article from CNET news, the settlement has been revised to include only out-of-print books that were published in the U.S., U.K., Australia, or Canada due to opposition from several countries. More rules regarding the Books Rights Registry were also added. The registry will be independent of Google and authors and publishers will have seats on the registry board. The registry will also be required to search for copyright holders that have not come forward. The revision does not address the important concern that reading records will be protected from disclosure to the government and third parties.

An article from the Bookseller.com says that Amazon has already filed a memorandum asking the judge to reconsider the preliminary approval noting that the ruling was made “without the benefit of opposing viewpoints” and the settlement is “doomed from the start and fails to satisfy even the low standard for preliminary approval.” Groups will have until January 28, 2010 to file objections to the revised settlement with the court.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

JISC conducts e-textbook business model trials

In September, the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the UK announced that it would begin conducting trials to explore the co-existence of e-textbooks and paper textbooks, and evaluate potential business models. According to a new posting on the JISC website, eight textbook publishers, three e-book aggregators, and ten universities are working together on the trials. Four trials will be conducted to: assess the sustainability of offering unlimited access to e-textbooks via aggregated platforms or publisher-specific platforms, explore the role of the library in offering students a range of e-textbook options, access the impact on print sales of textbooks by offering access via libraries, and determine if making e-textbooks available in libraries improves the sell-through of existing adoptions. More information about the universities, publishers, textbooks, and e-book aggregators involved in the trials can be found on the JISC website.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Google adds captions to YouTube videos

According to an article from The New York Times, Google has added technology to the YouTube website that will automatically insert English text captions into the videos. This will make the videos accessible to the deaf and hearing impaired, as well as to users across the world because the text captions can be translated into 51 languages. The new technology will also help users search for specific text within a video. There are already captioned videos available on YouTube but the captions are either added manually or the videos are from networks that include captions. Initially Google will add the caption technology to its own educational videos and those from Stanford, Yale, Duke, Columbia, MIT, PBS, National Geographic, and a few other channels. The technology will be expanded to other channels gradually so that it can be tested. Google has also introduced an additional service to make it easier to use the manual caption technology. Users can upload a text file with the words in the video and the technology will match up the text to the words as they are spoken.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

“100 Useful Links for eBook Lovers”

The OnlineCourses.org website has compiled a great list of links for free e-books, reviews of e-readers, as well as links to blogs and twitter feeds for e-book news.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nook e-reader already sold out for the holidays

The shopping season may have just begun but it is already too late to order a Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader for the holidays. According to CrunchGear, the Nook is officially sold out and the new expected ship date is January 4, 2010. Mary Ellen Keating, spokeswoman for Barnes & Noble commented that, “Preorders have exceeded our expectations.”

In addition, Sony says that it can not guarantee that the new Daily Edition touch screen and wireless e-reader will ship in time for Christmas. Sony began taking preorders for the device on Wednesday and has posted a note on its website that says, “Preorders will ship Dec. 18 thru Jan. 8. Actual delivery date cannot be guaranteed.” Sony’s Reader Pocket Edition and Touch Edition devices are available but neither device offers wireless capabilities.

As a result, Amazon could see a boost to its Kindle 2 sales this holiday season. Last year Amazon sold out of the Kindle weeks before Christmas but so far the device is in stock.

Friday, November 20, 2009

College to develop distance learning program via flash drives

The Thomas Edison State College was recently awarded a federal grant to develop a course delivery system that utilizes flash drives so that students can participate in distance learning without connecting to the internet at all times. According to the college’s website, they will develop 40 courses over the next few years that contain a similar structure to the online course but students will only need to connect to the internet to submit assignments and participate in online discussions. Dr. George A. Pruitt, president of Thomas Edison State College commented, “This grant enables us to make our courses and degree programs more readily accessible to students in locations all over the world, even where broadband Internet access is limited, including remote rural areas in the United States, in the Middle East and on ships at sea.”

The college will also begin developing courses that use cloud computing technology. The technology enables content to be stored on a server so that users can access the content at anytime from various mobile devices or PCs. This will lead to a platform independent course delivery system that enables all classes to use the same content regardless if it is an online course, independent study, delivered via flash drive, or delivered to a smartphone or web-enabled device.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Purdue University integrates social networking into the classroom

An article from Campus Technology discusses how Purdue University is integrating social networking into the classroom. Recently, developers at the university created a web application called Hotseat that allows students to post feedback and exchange questions and ideas in real-time during class. Professors and teaching assistants can view the comments as they are posted and adjust the course content to improve the learning experience. Students can post the comments to Hotseat via their Facebook and Twitter accounts, by text messaging, or by logging into the Hotseat website.

According to an article from Purdue News, Hotseat is currently being piloted in two classes and 73% of the students in the classes are participating. Both professors and students have expressed positive reactions to the tool. One of the professors involved in the pilot, Sugato Chakravarty, commented, “Hotseat is turning out to be a nice innovation. I'm seeing students interact more with the course and ask relevant questions. The tool allows us to engage students using media they are already familiar with." Some of the students put together a YouTube video to explain why they like Hotseat. It is expected that the tool will be utilized by all students at Purdue by the 2010-11 academic year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Entourage launches e-book store for the eDGe e-reader

A few weeks ago, Entourage Systems introduced a two-screen e-reader called the eDGe. The device was designed for education and features both an E Ink screen and a LCD screen. The E Ink screen is designed for reading and taking notes while the LCD screen can be used for browsing the internet, sending e-mails, and playing audio or video content.

When the device begins shipping in February 2010, users will have access to the Entourage e-book store that just launched today. Entourage has partnered with Ingram Digital for professional and trade titles and LibreDigital for e-books and periodicals. Users will also be able to download Google’s free public domain e-books.

According to the press release, Entourage will be announcing additional partnerships in the coming weeks. The addition of e-textbooks could be announced at that time. Entourage’s website currently shows that e-textbooks will be coming soon.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

First high school to replace printed textbooks with Sony Readers

According to a recent news release, Blyth Academy high school in Canada will be the first school to issue Sony Readers to all of its students in place of printed textbooks. Beginning this week, each student will use a new Sony Reader Touch device that contains textbooks from publishers such as Pearson Canada as well as assignments, reference materials, background reading, outlines, and personal timetables. Students will also have access to e-books from the Toronto Public Library, free e-books from Google, and digital materials for applying to colleges and universities.

Sam Blyth, Chair of Blyth Academy, commented on the initiative and provided some interesting information about a recent student survey. Blyth said, “The digital content we've acquired, coupled with the students' Sony Readers, will dramatically improve student access to textbooks, collateral material, literature and reading in general. Our student survey shows that they are twice as likely to read a book available in an e-book format as in hard copy form.”

Tim Algate, Reader Product Manger with Sony Canada, also noted that Sony is interested in the student’s feedback. Algate commented, “We're excited about how the Sony Reader can enhance a student's learning experience. We'll be listening to these students, using their feedback to evolve our Reader offering for education.”

Monday, November 16, 2009

E Ink partners with Marvell

Earlier this month, E Ink announced that it will partner with Marvell, a manufacturer of microprocessors, to produce a series of integrated processors for e-readers and other electronic devices. An article from Publishers Weekly says that the new technology will integrate the two microprocessors contained in many of the e-readers that are available today which could help reduce the price and improve the performance of e-readers. In addition, it could reduce power consumption to extend battery life and allow for easier integration of wireless connectivity. The new technology will be included in the Plastic Logic Que and the enTourage eDGe e-readers that are due out early next year.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blockbuster pilots movie rentals via SD cards

An article from Fast Company says that Blockbuster is piloting new movie rental kiosks that will allow users to rent movies via SD cards. The SD cards can be used with mobile phones, computers, TV’s, or other devices that include SD readers. The movie must be viewed within 30 days of purchase and once a consumer has begun watching the movie it will be available for 48 hours. That article notes that Blockbuster hopes that the higher quality videos will target consumers that watch movies via online streaming but it is questionable if those consumers will be willing to travel to the store. The pilot is occurring at select stores in Dallas, Seattle, and Portland.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

September 2009 e-book sales statistics

E-book sales statistics for September 2009 have been released by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) via IDPF. Trade e-book sales were $15.9 million for September 2009, a 170.1% increase over September 2008. IDPF reports calendar year to date revenue is up 176.1% for the year. Note that these figures represent the 12 to 15 trade book publishers who have been willing to supply their data to IDPF.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Digital Happenings

Here again this week, are some links to articles that you may find interesting:

  • The Wall Street Journal is reporting that demand for Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader is stronger than expected. New pre-orders will now ship on December 11 rather than November 30. B&N will also make the devices available in some of their college bookstores.
  • According to an article from Reuters, newspaper circulation continues to sharply decline. Average weekday circulation at 379 daily newspapers fell 10.6 percent to 30.4 million copies. This percentage is up from 4.6 percent last year. Sunday circulation for 562 newspapers also fell 7.5 percent to 40 million copies. This percentage is up from 4.9 percent last year.
  • According to the Kindle Review blog, Amazon announced that the Kindle is its bestselling product in both unit sales and revenue, and it is also the most wished for and most gifted product on Amazon.
  • An article from eSchool News says that the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Syracuse University will not buy any more Kindle devices until the devices are accessible to the blind. Both schools recently purchased Kindles for campus pilot programs but the devices do not feature audio menus to enable blind users to navigate the menus.
  • A new e-reader from iRiver called the Story Ebook Reader has been released in Korea. The reader includes a 6-inch E Ink display, 2GB of internal storage, as well as support for PDF, ePub, and office documents including PowerPoint and Excel.
  • According to a posting on Engadget, Wistron, a manufacturer of computer and consumer electronic products, has acquired Polymer Vision, the maker of the flexible Readius e-reader. Wistron plans to launch a device similar to the Readius in 2010.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Intel introduces e-reader for the blind and visually impaired

Earlier this week, Intel introduced an e-reader that is designed specifically for the blind and visually impaired. The device can read digital books aloud as well as convert printed material to digital form so that it can be magnified or read aloud. Users convert the print material by taking a picture of it with the built-in camera. Additionally, the menus on the device have audio capability so that blind users can operate the device on their own. This is an important feature because the current Kindle DX device has text-to-speech technology but does not feature audio menus so blind users can not navigate to the books.

Intel has also created a capture station device to be used with the e-reader to capture the images of entire books. A video demonstration of the e-reader and capture station can be viewed on Intel’s website.

According to an article from VentureBeat, several organizations have endorsed the e-reader including: National Center for Learning Disabilities, the International Dyslexia Association, the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, the Council for Exceptional Children, and the National Federation of the Blind.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Simon & Schuster to sell e-book chapters

Last week, Simon & Schuster announced that it will implement an iTunes type model and begin selling individual e-book chapters of its popular “You” series of health and wellness books. According to an article from Publishers Weekly, readers will still be able to purchase the full e-book, print book, and audio book. Simon & Schuster is planning to make the new model available for other books and will offer the e-commerce capability to other publishers and authors.

A posting on Media Bistro’s GalleyCat features commentary from Ellie Hirschhorn, chief digital officer at Simon & Schuster. Hirschhorn said, "It represents a transformational shift from current trade publishing models... consumers may no longer have to purchase an entire book when perhaps a chapter or two will provide them with the answers they are looking for, or if they are looking to sample parts of a book before making a decision...This opens up a new world of opportunities for where and how our digital content can be distributed and sold, and we plan to expand both the chapter selling model and use of our e-commerce widget to other content categories."

As publishers experiment with new business models, college stores could begin to see more atomization of content which includes selling the chapters or portions of chapters of print or digital textbooks rather than the whole book and increasing the volume of custom course materials. A model like this could help decrease costs for students while improving sell-through for stores. Models like this could open up new funding models for course materials, allowing students to buy the class materials in a “pay-as-you-go” model, allowing students to acquire chunks of course material content as they need it throughout the semester. In addition, students may be more likely to purchase the content if they know each portion that they purchase will be actually be used in class, potentially resulting in happier faculty and better learning outcomes for students who have acquired the content required for courses.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Update on the AccessText Network

As mentioned in a previous posting, the AccessText Network is working to make it easier for colleges and universities to provide course materials to students with disabilities. The initiative consists of an online database that aggregates publisher information to allow institutions to order electronic versions of the content or gain permission to scan course materials.

According to a recent article from eSchool News, the service is currently in beta testing and will officially launch in July 2010 but already more than 650 colleges and universities have enrolled. The article reports that with the system, orders can be fulfilled in about four days and already 3,000 requests have been fulfilled since August. Without AccessText, it can take weeks or months for students with disabilities to receive their textbooks. In addition, members of the network are able to access the publishers that produce 92 percent of the college textbooks on the market.

Mike Shuttic, president of the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), commented that AccessText Network is "a significant step forward that combines stakeholder resources and addresses the rights of students with disabilities. I encourage every member of the disability community to coalesce around this solution, ensuring its success."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Study evaluates hybrid courses

South Texas College has released new data that suggests that student success and retention rates are higher in hybrid courses (a combination of face-to-face learning and online learning) than in traditional or distance education courses. In July, the U.S. Department of Education released the results of a Meta-Analysis and Reviews of Online Learning Studies which showed similar findings.

According to an article from Inside Higher Ed, researchers at the college analyzed the grades of every student enrolled during the spring 2009 semester. A grade of “A”, “B”, “C”, or “Pass” was considered successful and “D”, “F”, “Not Pass” or “Incomplete” was considered unsuccessful. The study found that student success rates were 82% for hybrid courses, 72% for traditional courses, and 60% for distance learning. For courses in liberal arts and social sciences, allied health, and business and technology, success rates were the highest in hybrid courses while math and science success rates were highest in traditional courses. The article notes that due to the sample size the findings can not be considered statistically significant. The researchers at the college plan to conduct additional research to determine why the hybrid courses produced better outcomes and to compare how well the students performed to how much they learned.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Magazine to feature augmented reality technology

In an effort to attract some attention to Esquire’s print magazine, the December issue will feature augmented reality technology. According to The Wall Street Journal, the cover and several pages within the magazine will include black and white augmented reality markers that can be held up to a webcam to trigger video content onscreen. To see an example of how augmented reality works, you can check out GE’s website.

This is Esquire’s second attempt at mixing digital technology with print. You may remember that the October 2008 issue of Esquire featured a cover with an E Ink display. It is not clear what affect the E Ink cover had on sales but it certainly got Esquire some media attention.

In regards to the latest cover, David Granger, Esquire’s editor-in chief, commented, "We've been trying to do things that cause people to re-evaluate what a magazine is and get people excited about this thing called print."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Release dates for upcoming e-readers

The Kindle Review blog has a great posting that lists the anticipated release dates for many upcoming e-readers. The list includes both confirmed and rumors devices and shows that three to four devices could be released each month through April 2010. The posting notes that a Kindle 3 could be released in November or February which would be two years after the Kindle 1 or Kindle 2 were released. It also shows a possible Kindle DX 2 for April 2010 as well as a possible Dell tablet for March 2010.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Six million students use Google Apps Education Edition

As universities and colleges seek to find ways to cut costs, many are turning to Google for their free e-mail services. Google recently reported that as of September, “over five million students at thousands of schools in more than 145 countries” were using its suite of communication and collaboration applications known as Google Apps Education Edition. According to a posting on the Google blog, this number has increased 400% since the fall of 2008. Google recently launched a new website to show the schools how the products work which now shows that another million students have signed on for a current total of six million students.

An article from the Minneapolis – St. Paul Star Tribune discusses the transition to the Google services and the concern it has caused for many college administrators. Administrators are worried about how well sensitive information will be protected by an outside company but Google promises that the information is secure. According to Jaime Casap, a business development manager for Google Apps Education, “When somebody sends an e-mail out, it’s broke up into a gazillion pieces and spread across a bunch of different servers. Their data is absolutely secure.” Jerry Sanders, chief information officer at Macalester College pointed out that when there is a server room on campus “there’s an illusion of control. But there are so many ways through any given system. The question became, who can really protect this better: Google, with its army of engineers? Or us calling our guys in the middle of the night to hurry down?”

Thursday, November 5, 2009

L.A. Public Library suspends purchase of Adobe Digital Edition e-books

The Los Angeles Public Library system announced that it has suspended the purchase of Adobe Digital Editions e-books because the books are not currently accessible to the blind or those with print disabilities. According to an article from the Library Journal, the books were accessible when they were purchased from Overdrive but last spring Adobe updated the software which disabled the text-to-speech functionally. Steve Potash, CEO of OverDrive commented on the difficult situation and said that OverDrive has “been persistent in urging Adobe to make accessibility a high priority” and is "working on other avenues should there be no movement from Adobe."

In response to the announcement, Bill McCoy, general manager of Adobe’s ePublishing Business, noted on his blog that Adobe is working on a new version of Digital Editions as well as working with vendors of accessibility software and devices. McCoy commented, “I expect we will be able to make some specific announcements around this very shortly, but the bottom line is that there will soon be multiple means for visually-impaired end users to consume Adobe eBooks.”

In the meantime, the National Federation of the Blind will continue to notify others about the accessibility issues. In the press release, Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind commented, “We will continue to inform libraries, universities, and other entities of the inaccessibility of these materials and urge them to comply with accessibility standards and applicable laws by requiring that any e-books they purchase be accessible to those with print disabilities. We will no longer tolerate the gratuitous inaccessibility of e-books; we demand that Americans who cannot read print be treated like first-class citizens and be given access to all of the printed information to which other Americans have access.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Moving stores toward digital (or not)

Recently I had the pleasure to exchange thoughts with some of our industry leaders, including Stacy Waymire from ICBA. The move to digital course materials is a topic on many of our minds these days. In our opinion, while a number of college stores are engaging with digital change, and addressing the necessary evolution of the traditional business model, there are many stores that are not. My remarks below will seem controversial to some, but as a former faculty member I cannot on occasion help but to try to push those around me to think about what is happening in our environment from another perspective.

The college store market is reflective of higher education and publishing, the two mature industries which we intersect. As Stacy noted, “Resistance, denial, fear, withdrawal - we have it all. Our channel includes a high frequency of hostility to the reality of the shifting market, and to anyone who points out just how radical a shift is required by us to survive -- IF we can.” It reminds me of one of my current favorite quotes from Clay Shirky:

And so it is today. When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. [...] They are demanding to be lied to. There are fwer and fewer people who can convincingly tell such a lie.
We could just as easily replace "newspapers" with "bookstores" in the above quote and have it be just as relevent. Stacy remembered observing the deer-in-headlights looks in the room at a recent meeting of college stores when he said "it may be too late" for stores to make the changes required to survive. I had a similar reaction at another recent presentation where I thought some people in the room looked like they might need a stretcher by the time I finished. Particularly when I commented that in a NACS survey from earlier this year 3% of stores believed that digital would not impact their stores... EVER. I, of course, followed this by a remark that if one of those stores were in the room they should leave immediately because they cannot be saved. In that same survey nearly 31% of responding stores believed digital would not impact their sales for at least 4 years or more. I worry about that group's survival as well. Better perhaps to focus on the remaining two-thirds of the industry that is at least aware that their world is changing.

A topic that came up in our conversation about this point is the concept of asymmetrical competition. Asymmetrical competition is when your competitor refuses to compete in the traditional way, causing traditional organizations or industries to react to disruptive change. Frank Hecker has a nice paraphrasing of this concept which comes from the innovation theory literature (see also Clay Christensen’s Seeing What’s Next). He writes:

[A] classic disruptive scenario is when a market entrant introduces a disruptive innovation of some sort and incumbents are motivated to ignore the innovation, for whatever reason: For example, the innovation does not meet the needs of incumbents’ existing customers, or the incumbents’ cost structures or business models are such that they would be unlikely to make money in the initial market for the innovation. [In] this scenario the market entrant is protected by the shield of asymmetric motivation and has time to develop the sword of asymmetric skills that enables it to threaten and (in some cases) displace the incumbent.
Wow, do we sound like those incumbents at all? In the case of the textbook market, the example might be where competitors start by making some of our fundamental products free. I agree with Stacy’s observation that stores “need to consider the primary shift they are driving toward being less about preventing channel collapse, and more about abandoning the channel By which I mean, it is more about management needing to abandon their existing thinking and business model, and adopt a new approach in a market that may not even exist in total yet, and in fact may not gel for the next few years.” Wayne Gretsky might have described this as “skating to where the puck will be, not where it is.” In innovation theory we would describe this as “pursuing future profit pools.” We need to focus on where the future business will be, not where today’s business is. That may require abandoning some of our traditional practices and foci in order to survive the change to our industry.

About a year or so ago, when asked if publishing would move from print to computer, Bill Gates replied that it will leapfrog the computer and go directly to mobile. Cloud computing facilitates this. It is important to see digital course materials within the context that all of higher ed (indeed all education) is transforming. Look at Wiley Plus Wiley Plus, and the new Houghton announcement of their Learning Village deal with the Detroit public schools. Houghton will be providing a computer-based teaching system it developed with Microsoft Corp. that will connect teachers, students, and administrators. It's a radical shift away from the classic textbook publishing model and represents an industry transformation, as technology supplants books. "The textbook is no longer the center of the educational universe,'' said Wendy Colby, a senior vice president at Houghton, which is based in Boston. Wait until we hit reverse site licensing, where a university press gives all of its content away for free because the new revenue stream is a partnership with a learning system that will incorporate their content into a delivery and custom commons with a percentage going to the up. Or who knows what else?

For stores today, we must take on as part of our education and marketing the issue of "Why Free?", which allows us, as Stacy puts it so eloquently, to raise the idea that "our free has to be better than their free." We are challenged to design new business models that abandon our traditional legacy infrastructure, even while that infrastructure continues to support the existing channel. The textbook manager of the future will be as much reference librarian, helping faculty and students find the right content for the course, as a course materials expert who knows what products are available in what formats and with which associated rights. In making this shift, along with others, the college store can continue to add value, stake a claim and build market share in the new or emerging digital course materials channel.

I know -- heavy thoughts for the middle of the week. These are questions and ideas we must think about and address as an industry if we do not want to end up like record stores (and perhaps newspapers) before us.

Free webinar series from Project Tomorrow and T.H.E. Journal

On Friday, November 20th, Project Tomorrow and T.H.E. Journal will host their fifth free webinar based on the results of Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up Online Research Project. The webinar entitled, “Top Ten Trends in Student Learning with Technology” will feature the technology trends that schools and administrators should consider incorporating to meet the needs of today’s students. The link to sign up for the webinar is available here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Internet Archive introduces BookServer

Recently the Internet Archive introduced a significant new project known as BookServer that could not only give Amazon and Google some competition but incorporate free, borrowed, and paid digital content into one model that benefits many of the stakeholders in the industry. According to the website, BookServer is “a growing open architecture for vending and lending digital books over the Internet. Built on open catalog and open book formats, the BookServer model allows a wide network of publishers, booksellers, libraries, and even authors to make their catalogs of books available directly to readers through their laptops, phones, netbooks, or dedicated reading devices.”

According to an article from Information Today, Inc., BookServer is still in development and may take years to complete but users will be able to type a title, author, or keyword into a search engine and a list of results will display to show the bookstores, libraries, and publisher websites where the digital book can be purchased or borrowed. A search engine such as this could benefit consumers because it could help reduce the confusion associated with determining which formats work on particular devices and where to find specific titles. Peter Brantley from the Internet Archive explained that what consumers really want is to “be able to find the books they want, in the formats that they can use, for the device that they have, and not have it be painful.” In addition, authors, publishers, booksellers, and libraries would be able to make the books available for discovery while controlling the pricing and access rights of the content. Content owners do not have this type of control with Amazon and Google.

A posting on ReadWriteWeb explains, “While the project isn't exactly a direct effort to take down Amazon's online bookstore or Google's upcoming online eBook store called Google Editions, it will provide book publishers and online libraries with the means to more effectively compete with those companies. By allowing publishers to set their own pricing and manage the distribution of their books, they will be able to take back control from Amazon and Google who would rather dictate those terms for them.”

Monday, November 2, 2009

An interesting iPhone milestone

A new report from Flurry, a company that provides metrics for smartphone usage, says that for the first time since the Apple app store debuted in July 2008, the number of book apps released in a single month surpassed game apps. According to the report, from August 2008 to August 2009, more apps were released in the games category than any other but in September and October book apps took the lead. A chart on the website shows that in October, 20% of the newly released apps were book apps.

A posting on the Flurry blog notes that the iPhone has impacted several companies including Nintendo which recently cited the iPhone as one of the reasons its profits fell last quarter. Flurry predicts that Apple could begin to take market share from other devices such as the Amazon Kindle. The posting notes, “Despite the smaller form factor of the display, we predict that the iPhone will be a significant player in the book category of the Media & Entertainment space. Further, with Apple working on a larger tablet form factor, running on the iPhone OS, we believe Jeff Bezos and team will face significant competition.”

As we have mentioned previously, Apple has the potential to make a large impact on our industry. Apple could not only take market share from Amazon but from all booksellers including college stores. More e-book/reading apps are now being introduced than gaming apps, not bad for a device some people said neither they nor their students would ever read upon. Of course, the iPhone is not quite the device for reading textbooks, but how far off can that device really be?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Asus dual screen e-reader

A few weeks ago, we heard rumors about a potential Microsoft tablet/booklet called Courier that includes two multi-touch screens and opens like a book. We also learned about three new e-readers that include both E Ink and LCD technology - Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Entourage Systems’ Edge, and a device from Spring Design. You can view the posting here.

Recent reports say that Asus could also launch a new dual screen device in the coming months. An article from the Times Online reports that the device will have two color screens with a hinged spine similar to the potential Courier device. Consumers could use the screens to read an e-book like a physical book and turn the pages from one screen to the next. In addition, one screen can be used as a virtual keyboard so that the device could function as a laptop. Asus may release both budget and premium versions of the device. According to the article, the company hopes that the budget version will be the cheapest e-reader on the market.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

With all the buzz about the Apple iPhone this year, iPhone costumes could be a popular choice this Halloween. But how about an iPhone costume that actually works! A team of tech saavy folks from Florida have come up with such a costume. You can view their YouTube video here. The 85 pound iPhone costume includes a 42-inch display that shows a live image of the display on their iPhone. According to a report, the creators have already won two local costume contests and are competing in several others. Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

DeepDyve academic journal rental program

A recent article from The Wired Campus discusses a new online rental service for scientific, technical, and medical journals known as DeepDyve. The company is working to make journal articles more accessible by allowing users to rent articles for 24 hours or via a monthly pass for a small fee. The articles must be read on screen and can not be downloaded, printed, or shared. Chief Executive of DeepDyve, William Park, commented that the company’s model could encourage users to purchase more content from journals because often journal websites only provide the title and an abstract so users do not know exactly what they are buying. In addition, the website will give more people access to more journal content. This is a great example of a company that is rethinking the business model and thinking about what role they can play in the market.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New report predicts dramatic increase in online learning by 2014

An article from Campus Technology features data from a new report from Ambient Insight Research titled, “US Self-paced eLearning Market.” The report says that by 2014, 22 million post secondary students will take all or some of their classes online. This number is up from 12 million today. According to the report, of the 12 million students that take online courses today, 1.25 million take all of their classes online and 10.65 million take some of their classes online. In comparison, 15.14 million students take all of their classes in a physical classroom.

Within five years time, it is projected that the number of students that take all of their classes in a classroom will drop 10 million to 5.14 million. In addition, the number of students that take all of their classes online and some of their classes online will increase to 3.55 million and 18.65 million respectively for a total of 22 million students enrolled in online classes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

e-textbooks in the classroom

A recent article from Campus Technology discusses how electronic textbooks can benefit both faculty and students. The article features an interview with Don St. Dennis, an associate professor at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, who has offered a CourseSmart e-textbook option in his classroom for several semesters.

According to St. Dennis, more and more students are now choosing the digital option. He commented that the digital version is beneficial because it provides students with a less expensive textbook option and it gives professors the ability to instantly review texts and choose among them. This is convenient for professors because they do not need to wait for the textbooks to be delivered in the mail before they can review them. In addition, the page numbers on the CourseSmart books correspond to the paper books so that students using either textbook option can follow along in class. Currently, the Kindle DX books do not correspond to the physical books and students and professors involved in the pilot have expressed concern about this feature. St. Dennis also noted that he believes students are going through the same evolution that he did when it comes to e-books. Initially he was not willing to give up physical books but gradually he has shifted towards digital reading and now uses a Kindle for most of his reading.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Amazon announces software to allow Kindle books to be read on the PC

According to The Christian Science Monitor’s Horizons Blog, Amazon will consolidate its U.S. and international Kindles into one device and reduce the price to match Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader. In addition, Amazon has announced that it will release software to allow Kindle books to be read on PC’s. An advertisement on Amazon’s website notes that consumers do not need to own a Kindle to download the free software. For customers that do own a Kindle, Amazon’s Whispersync technology can be used to synchronize bookmarks and annotations between the devices. Amazon’s Kindle app for the iPhone also uses this technology.

As mentioned in a previous posting, initial reviews from the Kindle DX pilots at universities have been mixed so students may appreciate the ability to read the books on their computers as well. However, it does not look like users will be able to add notes to the text from their PC. The Amazon news release notes that with the Kindle for PC software, users can “view notes and highlights marked on Kindle and Kindle DX.” Students have expressed that the annotation software on the Kindle DX is not as easy to use as taking notes on paper so they would likely appreciate the ability to add notes from their computer keyboard.

Monday, October 26, 2009

University of Michigan partners with HP to make 500,000 out-of-copyright books available in print

Last week, Hewlett Packard announced a partnership with the University of Michigan Library to make 500,000 out-of-copyright books available in print. According to an article from Ars Technica, the books were previously scanned by the library and HP will utilize its BookPrep technology to clean up the scans and prepare them for printing. The ability to clean up the wear and tear from the book scans sets HP’s technology apart from several other print-on-demand services. The article includes some photos to show the quality of the corrected scans. The news release from HP notes that the books will be available for purchase through HP BookPrep, as well as Amazon and other retailers.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How to create a personal library on your iPhone

An interesting posting on the Accredited Online University website features a listing of 75 apps “to turn your iPhone into the ultimate personal library.” The list is divided into categories and includes apps for book readers, dictionaries, news, bestsellers, and classics.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

How the reading experience differs between paper and digital books

Last week there was a very interesting piece on the New York Times’ Room for Debate blog that featured five great essays about how the reading experience differs between paper and digital books. In the piece by Sandra Aamodt, it notes that people typically read about 20-30 percent slower on screen than they do on paper. However, some anecdotal evidence suggests that people can read as quickly on e-readers as they do on paper due the E Ink screen and lack of backlighting. Aamodt suggests that as technology improves, electronic reading could be as useful as paper for most purposes.

Two of the other essays take a look at the effect that digital reading could have for children. In the piece by Maryanne Wolf, she says that her greatest concern is that children will not read deeper into the text after the first decoding because they will become distracted by the sidebars or videos that sit alongside the text. Wolf notes, “The child’s imagination and children’s nascent sense of probity and introspection are no match for a medium that creates a sense of urgency to get to the next piece of stimulating information. The attention span of children may be one of the main reasons why an immersion in on-screen reading is so engaging, and it may also be why digital reading may ultimately prove antithetical to the long-in-development, reflective nature of the expert reading brain as we know it.” Another piece by Gloria Mark expresses similar thoughts. Mark comments, “I wonder about young people, who do not know of a life before the Internet, and who, growing up “digitized,” might not prefer reading online where they are the pilots of their own information pathways. More and more, studies are showing how adept young people are at multitasking. But the extent to which they can deeply engage with the online material is a question for further research.”

All of the pieces provide some interesting thoughts and comparisons and are worth a read.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Digital Happenings

While the blog highlights many of the digital happenings affecting our industry, there is often more going on than we have a chance to cover each week. Here are some interesting stories and links from the past few days.
  • An article from CNET says that the Plastic Logic device that is due out in January will be named the Que. As a reminder, it was recently reported that the device will utilize AT&T’s 3G network and Barnes & Noble will be the content provider.
  • According to Publishers Weekly, McGraw Hill Professional has partnered with ScrollMotion to make e-books available in the Apple app store via the ScrollMotion Iceberg Reader. Over the next few months, over 600 business books will be available for reading on the Apple devices.
  • Last week it was announced that Amazon will launch a global version of its Kindle device. According to a posting from Wired’s Gadget Lab, the new device will feature limited wireless capabilities to prevent users located outside of the U.S. from accessing the internet. The device will utilize AT&T’s wireless network so it is suspected that there are roaming charges associated with the access. There is no word yet on if Amazon will work out agreements with wireless providers in other countries.
  • The New York Times has provided some additional information about the upcoming B&N Nook device. According to the article, the Nook will have software to detect when a customer is located in a B&N store allowing coupons, books suggestions, and excerpts of new books to be sent to the device. Additionally, users will be able to read any e-book while located in the store.
  • AU Optronics Corp in Taiwan has introduced a flexible 6-inch e-paper display that will be available in 2010, as well as a large 20-inch e-paper module. According to the website, the 20-inch display is currently the largest that can be mass produced and is intended to be used for public information displays. The technologies are expected to be featured at the FPD International show in Japan later this month and more details will be provided at that time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Google Editions to launch in 2010

At the recent Frankfurt Book Fair, Google provided more information about its Google Editions program that is set to launch in the U.S. and Europe by June 2010. As mentioned in a previous posting, the program will let publishers sell in-print e-books directly to consumers. The digital books will be stored in a cloud so that users can access the books from any device including laptops, smart phones, and e-readers. According to a posting on the Bookseller.com, once a user has accessed the book from a device, a cached version will be stored so that the book can be read offline from that point on.

Google Editions will allow users to purchase books from three sources: Google Books, partner retailers, and from publisher’s websites. Publishers will benefit from a 63:37 payment split with Google when books are purchased from Google Books and a 45:55 split with the retailer and Google when books are purchased from a retailer. It has not been determined how the payments will be split when the books are bought from publisher websites.

In addition, a posting from Yahoo! Tech News notes that about half a million books will be available when Google Edition launches. Details about which online retailers will participate have not been announced.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are the Kindle killers on the way?

The rumors were true. Barnes & Noble has officially launched its own e-reader known as, Nook. The new device improves on other e-readers including the Kindle for a few main reasons. First, it features a dual screen that is part black and white E Ink and part color LCD touch screen. The LCD portion is powered by the Google Android operating system and used for navigation and browsing the B&N bookstore while the E Ink portion is for reading. Second, users will be able to loan books to friends using the device’s “LendMe” technology. According to B&N’s website, most books can be shared to and from any Nook, iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry, PC, or Mac computer that has the software installed for up to 14 days. The inability to share books with friends is a common complaint among digital book readers so this feature is sure to please consumers. Third, the device supports e-books in the ePub format. Several of the other Nook features are comparable to the Kindle 2 and the B&N website features a side-by-side comparison chart to show the similarities and differences. Similar to the Kindle, the Nook will synchronize books across devices so that users can place a bookmark on one device and have it display on another. In addition, the device will feature AT&T wireless, 2 GB of internal storage to hold about 1500 books, and an SD card slot for additional storage.

It has been an interesting week in the e-reader space because it looks like the Nook device is just the first of several combination devices to come. Earlier this week, a company called Spring Design, announced that it will be launching a similar dual screen device later this year. The device will be known as Alex, and it will also utilize the Google Android operating system. According to the press release, users can read text on the E Ink screen while viewing hyperlinked multimedia information on the LCD screen. A posting on Engadget’s website features a video demonstration of the device.

In addition, Entourage Systems has announced a two screen device called eDGe. This is a larger device that was designed for education and features two screens, a 9.7 inch E Ink display on the left and a 10.1 inch LCD screen on the right. According to the company’s website, users will be able to take notes on the device with a stylus, highlight text, send e-mails, take pictures, browse the web, and play audio and video content.

With three multi screen devices popping up just this week, we can expect that additional combination devices are on the way. These devices could significantly enhance the user experience and bring digital reading to the next level.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

August 2009 e-book sales statistics

E-book sales statistics for August 2009 have been released by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) via IDPF. Trade e-book sales were $14.4 million for August 2009, a 189.1% increase over August 2008. IDPF reports calendar year to date revenue is up 177.3% for the year. Note that these figures represent the 12 to 15 trade book publishers who have been willing to supply their data to IDPF.

New England College Stores on Facebook

For the Facebook addicts out there -- or just those interested in learning more the college store industry -- I have to point out one of the best Facebook pages I have seen in a while. It is for the College Stores of New England (CSNE). The site has many interesting postings, operating almost as a blog within the Facebook environment. There were some interesting articles there. Very well done and an example other stores and regional/national associations might want to follow. Nice job to the CSNE team.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Washington State Student Completion Initiative to implement open textbooks for 80 courses

It was recently announced that the Washington Sate Legislature, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Ford Foundation will fund a new program known as the Washington State Student Completion Initiative. The initiative will focus on increasing community college completion rates through new programs and the continuation of successful pilot projects. One of the new programs will focus on the redesign of 80 high enrollment, gatekeeper, and pre-college courses which are taken by 321,000 students each year.

According to the press release, students often have difficulty completing these courses due to the cost of the textbooks and the availability of the courses. As a result, the program will utilize open textbooks and educational resources, as well as existing library resources to reduce the cost for students. In addition, more online or blended courses can be made available. The use of open resources will also give faculty the opportunity to improve on the courses and allow the courses to be shared throughout the state and beyond.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Will a color version of the Cool-er device hit the market early next year?

The Digits blog is reporting that, Interead, the maker of the Cool-er e-reader, is preparing to debut an enhanced e-reader at the Consumer Electrics Show in January. According to Chief Executive, Neil Jones, the device will have a color E Ink screen and wireless capabilities. If the device is released early next year, it could be the first color E Ink reader to launch in the U.S. Interead is also planning to try out a different approach to sell its e-reader this holiday season. In December, the device will be available for purchase on QVC, the home-shopping network.