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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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.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Is Barnes & Noble preparing to launch an e-reader?

There could be another competitor vying for market share in the e-reader space this holiday season. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Barnes & Noble is preparing to launch its own e-reader and it could happen next month. B & N has not confirmed this news but according to the article, the device could have a 6-inch E Ink touch-screen and wireless connection to download books from the B&N store.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The growing OACM movement...

The October 2009 issue of the Hewlett Foundation has an article about the open access course materials (OACM) movement. The piece talks about the growing usage of OACM in the community college space in particular, where textbook affordability can be as much of a challenge as tuition affordability for some students. To date the Hewlett Foundation has contributed over US$50M in grants to the OACM movement.

The piece mentions the growing adoption of an open access textbook for statistics available via Connexions, one of the leaders in OACM from a content-quality perspective. With the adoption of one textbook at one community college alone, the piece estimates that roughly $80,000 was saved for students -- and eight other institutions also adopted the text. For many these numbers are compelling reason to consider OACM.

However, few things are true panaceas, even in the area of textbook affordability. Quality plagues much of the OACM movement currently. As the article notes, of 250 known OA books in the pipeline, only 29 have been peer reviewed for quality, and only 30 for ADA compliance. As more faculty at institutions adopt OACM, it will be interesting to see the impact on overall educational affordability that occurs as a result of lost revenue that normally supports things like financial aid and tuition sustainability, particularly among the community colleges.

One argument in the article that was particularly compelling and that I had heard less of to date was the argument about faculty regaining control of educational content. It would be interesting to see if the feedback they report faculty getting would be sustained once the volume of content available in the open source space increases.

If OACM is here to stay, as it looks like it might be, then it would behoove stores to begin thinking about how to incorporate OACM options among other course material choices for students. Remaining the "one-stop" location with the most accurate information on requirements for all course material needs is an advantage of stores that should not be given up just because some of the materials are available digitally for free. The question I have relates to the financial sustainability of OACM over the long term. Perhaps there is a role for stores to play that could balance the desire for improved affordability with a return to the OACM movement to continue producing lower cost course materials (while maintaining quality).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Results of Abilene Christian University iPhone/iPod Touch pilot

Last year, Abilene Christian University became the first university to provide incoming freshman with an iPhone or iPod Touch device in an effort to use mobile technology to enhance learning. To incorporate the devices into the classroom, programmers at the university created several applications to connect students and faculty in more ways. Some examples of the applications include: a “clicker” classroom response system, attendance, calendars, and campus maps.

According to a recent article from Inside Higher Ed, a report about the first year of the study has been compiled and it shows very positive results. A survey of the participants found that 89 percent of students and 87 percent of faculty feel that the program was successful. The university plans to continue to distribute iPhones and iPod Touch devices to all incoming freshman so that within a few years all students at the university have a device. The university is also encouraging more professors to incorporate the technology into their classrooms and to conduct more experiments. In addition, Abilene Christian hopes that other schools will implement similar pilots so that more data can be collected to access the effectiveness of mobile technology on college campuses.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Apple hits two billion iPhone app downloads

In April, Apple announced that its customers downloaded over one billion apps from the Apple app store. Now, just five months later, Apple has reached the two billion mark and added an additional 50,000 apps to the store to bring the current total to 85,000 apps.

An interesting chart on the Mobclix website shows the number of apps in each of the 20 app categories. Of the 85,000 apps, there are 10,204 book apps and 5,312 education apps. The number of apps in both of these categories has more than doubled since April.

With the popularity of the app store increasing everyday and rumors that a large screen Apple tablet will hit the market early next year, Apple could make a considerable impact in the higher education market in the coming months.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Google Wave

Earlier this year, Google held a developers conference to unveil an impressive online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. The tool is known as Google Wave and it incorporates e-mail, wikis, instant messaging, social networking, and image/document sharing into one online tool. There is a hour long video demonstration of the tool on Google’s website that is worth a watch if you have some time. One of the most interesting features of Google Wave is the option to have live character by character transmission of a message so that others can see what is being typed as it is being typed. This feature allows users to work on a document together in real-time. Up until last week, only a certain number of developers had access to the tool but now Google has sent out 100,000 invites to beta testers. Each tester can then invite eight more people.

An article from The Chronicle of Higher Education features commentary from some college professors and administrators who believe that Google Wave could be used as an online classroom or course management system in the future. Steve Bragaw, a professor at Sweet Briar College noted, “Just from the initial look I think it will have all the features (and then some) for an all-in-one software platform for the classroom and beyond.” Greg Smith, chief technology officer at George Fox University, agreed that the system could be used in the classroom but noted that colleges will likely still use the course-management systems they currently rely on.

Google Wave could be open to the public sometime next year so it will be interesting to see how professors or universities utilize the tool.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Forrester expects e-reader sales to exceed prior prediction

Sarah Rotman Epps of Forrester Research has released a new report entitled, “Forrester’s eReader Holiday Outlook 2009” which says that e-readers sales in 2009 will likely exceed its prior prediction of two million devices. Forrester is now predicting that three million e-readers will be sold this year with 900,000 of the devices selling during November and December for the holiday season. A posting from the Forrester Research blog says that e-reader sales are growing quicker than expected due to better retail distribution, media buzz, additional content, and reduced pricing of e-readers.

As for 2010, Forrester predicts that Barnes & Noble will become a serious competitor to Amazon and consumers will have a larger variety of e-reader devices to choose from including those which do not use E Ink but include color and video. In addition, tablet devices and dual-screen devices that have both E Ink and LCD screens will be introduced. Forrester expects that e-reader sales will double in 2010 to bring the total number of devices sold to 10 million.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Video of book digitization process at Cambridge University Press

Cambridge University Press has produced a very interesting video about their book digitization process. To date, the university press has been able to make 15,000 titles that were previously out-of-print available to scholars, students, and the public via print-on-demand. The university has also formed an alliance with the library to scan and digitize books from the library’s vast collection. Rare and out-of-print books that too fragile and valuable to be borrowed by readers will now be available via print-on-demand or in e-book format.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

e-readers are a holiday wish list item

Several sources are reporting that e-readers will be a popular gift item this holiday season. A recent online survey conducted by Retrevo, a consumer electronics review website, found that 21% of respondents plan to buy an e-reader this year and 10% of respondents would like to receive an e-reader as a gift this holiday season. HGTVs, digital cameras, and netbooks were among the most popular wish list items but e-readers scored higher than game consoles (6%) and MP3 players (3.4%). In regards to the type of e-reader, 62% plan to buy the Amazon Kindle followed by 32% for the Sony Reader and 6% for other e-reader devices. The age group that is most likely to buy an e-reader is 25-35 year olds with 40% of respondents indicating interest followed by those under age 25 with 29% of respondents indicating interest.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Amazon to launch global version of the Kindle

With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, competition in the e-reader space is heating up. Recently iRex and Sony announced that they will launch new e-reader devices in the U.S. and now Amazon says it will reduce the price of the Kindle and launch a global version of the device.

According to an article from The New York Times, the new Kindle will use AT&T’s wireless network and its global partners to allow customers in the U.S. and 100 other countries to download books wirelessly to the device. Customers using the global device will be able to choose books from a catalog of about 200,000 compared to the 350,000 available in the U.S. Kindle store and the catalogs will be tailored to the specific countries.

Chief Executive, Jeff Bezos commented, We regularly ship millions of English-language books to non-English speaking countries and people have to wait for the delivery. Now they can get books in 60 seconds. That is a pretty exciting part of what we are announcing.”

Jeff Bezos also provided some information about Kindle vs. print sales. Bezos said that when Amazon offers a Kindle and print version of a book, it sells 48 Kindle copies for every 100 print copies. In May, Amazon sold 35 Kindle copies for every 100 print copies. Bezos referred to this increase as “astonishing.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

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

Next Wednesday, October 14th, Project Tomorrow and T.H.E. Journal will host their third free webinar based on the results of Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up Online Research Project. The webinar entitled, “Web 2.0 and Education” will feature the views of students, teachers, parents, and administrators, on the use of Web 2.0 tools inside and outside of the classroom. The link to sign up for the webinar is available here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Could textbooks become “textvooks”?

Last week, Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, released four "vooks" or e-books that incorporate video and can be viewed online or on an Apple iPhone/iPod Touch. The website features a video demonstration of a vook that shows how digital books can be enhanced with how-to videos, demonstrations, or videos to supplement the story. For example, a cookbook could include videos to show how to make the recipes. Vooks are also fully integrated with social networks so users can connect with friends while reading and watching.

An article from The New York Times features commentary from Judith Carr, a publisher of Atria Books, on this new idea, “Everybody is trying to think about how books and information will best be put together in the 21st century. You can’t just be linear anymore with your text.” While some publishers and authors believe that enhancing books with videos and incorporating new technologies is necessary, others believe that a hybrid model could degrade the reading experience. Author, Walter Mosley commented, Reading is one of the few experiences we have outside of relationships in which our cognitive abilities grow. And our cognitive abilities actually go backwards when we’re watching television or doing stuff on computers.”

A posting from the Gizmodo blog notes that Apple is also working to create a new type of hybridized media to redefine textbooks, newspapers, and magazines. The initial content for the anticipated Apple tablet will likely be digital books but the goal is to have publishers create content that incorporates audio, video, and interactive graphics. There are already some versions of interactive textbooks available today but this technology will likely become more advanced in the coming years to provide students with a new way of learning.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Initial reactions to Kindle DX pilot at Princeton University

A recent article from the Daily Princetonian, reports mixed reviews from students participating in the Kindle DX pilot at the university. Princeton is one of the seven universities that partnered with Amazon to initiate a Kindle DX pilot this semester. The Princeton pilot is known as “Toward Print-Less and Paper-Less Courses: Pilot Amazon Kindle Program” and is part of a sustainability initiative that focuses on reducing the amount of electronic reserve course materials printed by students.

According to the article, the pilot began about two weeks ago and many of the students and faculty have expressed that the Kindles are disappointing and difficult to use. One student commented, “Much of my learning comes from a physical interaction with the text: bookmarks, highlights, page-tearing, sticky notes and other marks representing the importance of certain passages — not to mention margin notes, where most of my paper ideas come from and interaction with the material occurs. All these things have been lost, and if not lost they’re too slow to keep up with my thinking, and the ‘features’ have been rendered useless.”

A professor for one of the courses also discussed the use of location numbers in place of page numbers on the Kindle which is an issue that was mentioned by students in the Arizona State University pilot. The use of location numbers makes it difficult for students to cite sources consistently or locate a certain page.

Other students did express positive reactions to the Kindle DX for its E Ink screen that looks like paper and does not strain eyes as well as the ability to have a large amount of content available without having to carry around several books. As mentioned, the pilot has only been in place for two weeks so student and faculty reactions may change as the semester progresses. We can expect that some or all of the features that students are disappointed with will be modified or enhanced on future textbook e-readers to improve usability and make the devices more appealing to students.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Microsoft Courier Tablet/Booklet

A recent posting on the Gizmodo blog, features an impressive Microsoft tablet/booklet known as, Courier. The device is said to be in the late prototype stage and depending on when it’s launched it could give the anticipated Apple tablet some good competition. Check out the short video on the posting to see how it works. The device opens like a book and features two multi-touch screens. Users can write and draw with a stylus, and objects can be moved between the screens. It looks like a pretty neat device.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

"The Student’s Perspective”

We recently came across a very interesting read from the EDUCAUSE e-book on Educating the Net Generation. The piece is titled, "The Student's Perspective" and it was written in 2005 by a student at North Carolina State University. The piece takes a look at what it is like to be a student of the Net Generation on a college campus where the faculty and the campus itself may be less digitally focused than the students. It notes, “I am a member of the Net Generation. I've surfed the Web since the age of 11, and it has increasingly taken over every facet of my personal and academic existence. I can barely recall making plans before the advent of IM and have rarely attended a campus meeting without setting it up over e-mail first. I get my news, my weather, my directions–even my clothes–from the Web. And, as my peers and I continue to flood the gates of the nation's colleges and universities, I am a puzzle to many of the faculty and administrators who will try to teach me. They will either try too hard to transform education into the virtual language I understand or too little to accommodate for the differences between us. Just as with past generations, however, all that is required is a basic understanding of what being a Net Gener really means and how it translates to the classroom.”

The piece goes on to talk about how the younger generations preparing to enter college will be even more digitally focused. “The next generation of learners, therefore, will only raise more questions on college campuses. Their lives will be more reliant on technology, their attention spans that much shorter. They will have little concept of checkbooks and scant recollection of landline telephones. Their needs and their values will require a reevaluation of the concepts noted here and a fresh look at the needs and expectations of our nation's college freshmen. By then, the Net Generation will be relics of the first generation of Internet youth, when the Web was still new, page loading still slow, and telephones still in use.”

The piece is very well written and worth a read. It has been just four years since it was published but you can already see how technology has changed since that time. While instant messaging was a primary communication tool a few years ago, students now rely on several tools to keep in touch with their friends including: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging. And, while the author was 11 when she started surfing the web, today’s college freshman have probably been surfing the web for as long as they can remember.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Frankfurt Book Fair survey finds that 2018 could be the year that digital sales surpass print

A recent survey of 840 international managers and executives from the publishing industry found that 2018 could be the year that digital sales surpass print sales. According to the survey conducted by the Frankfurt Book Fair, about 50% the respondents said that 2018 would be the “turning point” year. This number is up from 40% in the 2008 survey. It should be noted that U.S. Market is perceived to be ahead of the world market so digital sales in the U.S. could surpass print in less time.

The study also showed that 60% of respondents estimate that less than 10% of their revenue will come from digital sources in 2009. However by 2011, 41% believe that digital could account for up to 10% of their sales and 58% of respondents anticipate that digital sales will make up “a considerably higher share of total sales.”

The number of respondents that believe that digital will never overtake print has also decreased five percentage points from the 2008 survey to 22%. In addition, 80 percent of respondents said they embrace “the radical change” of digital and do not see it as a threat.

In regards to the pricing of e-books, the results showed that the industry is divided amongst the many possible pricing models for e-books. However, 79% of respondents believe that pricing model should make e-books cheaper than the printed version by either 10%, 20%, 30%, more than 30%, a standard price such as Amazon, or another pricing model. In comparison, 15% of the respondents said the digital version should be as expensive as the printed book and 4% said it should be more expensive.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Verizon and Best Buy partner with iRex Technologies for release of new e-reader

Last month, iRex Technologies announced that it will partner with Barnes & Noble online bookstore when it releases its first e-reader in the U.S. next month and now it appears the company will also partner with Verizon and Best Buy. According to an article from the New York Times, the e-readers will be available in Best Buy stores and will utilize Verizon’s 3G wireless network. The e-reader will feature a black and white 8.1 inch touch screen and will support the ePub format to allow users to buy books from other sources.

The article also includes a prediction from market research firm iSuppli which says that 5.2 million e-readers will be sold across the world this year and half of the sales will occur in North America. This prediction is line with one from Sarah Rotman Epps of Forrester Research who estimates that three million e-readers will be sold in the U.S. this year. In 2008, there were about one million e-reader devices sold.