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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Monday, May 31, 2010

Video from University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo has produced a great video that discusses the profound impact that the digital revolution is having on higher education and how their college store and library are successfully adapting and responding to change.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

iPad vs. Kindle

Here is an interesting posting from ZDNet that compares the iPad and the Kindle in various lighting conditions.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Interesting piece by J.A. Konrath – Is Print Dead?

The Huffington Post recently featured a very entertaining piece from author J.A. Konrath that is worth a read. The piece features a fictional conversation between VHS Tapes, Video Rental Stores, Cassette Tapes, Typewriters, Fold-Out Paper Maps, and others to welcome the Print Industry to “Obsolete Anonymous.”

Friday, May 28, 2010

Study finds children are more likely to own a mobile phone than a book

A recent survey by the National Literary Trust has produced some interesting findings. The survey included more than 17,000 children between the ages of seven and 16 and found that 85.5 percent of children had their own mobile phone while only 72.6 percent had their own books. The study also suggests that there is a link between access to books outside of school and high test scores. “Involvement with reading activities at home has significant positive influences not only on reading achievement, language comprehension and expressive language skills, but also on pupils’ interest in reading, attitudes towards reading and attentiveness in the classroom.”

In conjunction with the research, the National Literary Trust has launched a new campaign called Tell Me a Story to raise awareness in supporting children’s literacy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New color e-reader from Pandigital

This week another new competitor entered the e-reader market. According to an article on InformationWeek’s website, Pandigital will release a 7-inch e-reader called Novel. The device will be integrated with the Barnes & Noble eBookstore which currently offers more than a million titles. The device features an Android operating system with a full color touchscreen, Wi-Fi connectivity, virtual keyboard, 1 GB of internal memory, ability to display in either portrait or landscape mode, and a USB port for transferring files. It will also support PDF, ePUB, and HTML formats. The Novel will be available next month with a very competitive price tag.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Survey finds that the PC is the most popular e-book reading device

Simba Information, a market research firm, recently released the results of an e-book survey. The findings showed that 68% of e-book users read on PCs, making it the number one e-book reading device. Michael Norris, senior analyst of Simba Information, pointed out that most book consumers only purchase a small number of titles a year so a dedicated device does not make sense for a lot of people. However, dedicated devices are gaining ground.

As for the iPad, Norris said, “For the iPad to get any sort of dominance, it needs to become very popular very fast among the PC crowd and not necessarily the dedicated device crowd."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Boston Consulting Group study suggests e-readers and tablets will become mass-market devices

The Boston Consulting Group has released the results of a new global consumer study about e-readers and tablets which included 12,717 respondents from 14 countries. The study found that 28 percent of respondents plan to purchase an e-reader or tablet within the year and 49 percent plan to purchase a device within three years. For respondents that were familiar with the devices, the percentages were higher with 51 percent planning to purchase within the year and 73 percent within three years.

John Rose, the global leader of BCG’s Media practice, commented, “The survey suggests that e-readers and tablets are not a niche product for early adopters but could become the MP3 players of this decade. Grandmothers will soon be carrying them around.” However, in order for the devices to gain mass acceptance, the price of the devices will need to drop significantly.

The study also found that choice is an important factor for consumers. 80 percent of the respondents that were interested in purchasing an e-reader or tablet said that they would buy more content if multiple retailers were available.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

B&N free e-book promotion

Barnes & Noble has a new promotion for consumers that use its B&N eReader software for the Nook or other devices such as iPhone, PC, Blackberry, and Mac computers. Consumers that bring their device into a physical B&N location can receive a voucher for a free e-book. Each week a new title will be offered for a total of five free e-books.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Has Google already won the e-book market?

eWeek.com has an interesting posting that gives 11 reasons why Google has already won the e-book market. Among the reasons: the mainstream trusts Google, Google is not relying on a device, and Google plans to make its new e-book program, Google Editions, available in as many places as possible.

Friday, May 21, 2010

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 Campus Technology says that Abilene Christian University has received a grant to expand its mobile learning programs. This will include a mobile technology research program, an experimental lab, and a K-12 professional development initiative for teachers.
  • In recent weeks, rumors about a possible Blackberry tablet have begun circulating.
  • According to a posting on Mashable’s website, users can now create custom books from Wikipedia content.
  • According to the Bookseller.com, the Booksellers Association (BA) has entered into an agreement with Google to allow BA members to start selling books via Google Editions when it launches this summer.
  • Could the e-book revolution lead to a dramatic increase in hard cover prices? Daily Finance has an interesting article about this topic. Alberto Vitale, former chairman and chief executive of Random House, predicts the prices of hardcover books will increase by at least a third within the next five years while the prices of e-books could decline.

IPad news

  • This fall, the Illinois Institute of Technology will give first year students Apple iPads as part of a larger effort to integrate technology into learning. Seton Hill University, George Fox University and Rutgers University have also announced plans to experiment with iPads.
  • Apple announced that it sold one million iPads in less than a month. In a statement CEO Steve Jobs noted, “One million iPads in 28 days -- that's less than half of the 74 days it took to achieve this milestone with iPhone."
  • A posting on Wired’s Gadget Lab discusses whether or not the iPad is driving e-book piracy.
  • An analyst from DigiTimes expects that Apple will release a 5 to 7 inch version of the iPad in the first quarter of next year.
  • According to Information Week, in an email response to a customer, Steve Jobs said that the iPad will eventually have print capabilities.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gartner predicts significant potential for touchscreen PCs in education by 2015

In a recent press release, Gartner says that consumers and education will be the earliest adopters of touch-enabled PCs and by 2015, more than 50 percent of the PCs purchased for kids under age 15 will have touchscreens. This figure is up from less than two percent in 2009. Gartner also predicts that fewer than 10 percent of the computers sold to corporations in 2015 will have a touchscreen due to the significant typing requirements.

According to Gartner, as the prices for touch and pen-enabled devices come down, the education market may be a significant adopter. Most school districts will likely look for a device that has both touch and pen capabilities so that they do not have to support multiple devices for different grade levels. Leslie Fiering, research vice president at Gartner noted, "Consensus among the Gartner client U.S. school districts is that over half, and possibly as many as 75 percent, will be specifying touch and/or pen input within the next five years. Consider this as the precursor to a major upcoming generational shift in how users relate to their computing devices."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

British Library to digitize thousands of newspapers

According to a recent press release, the British Library has entered into a 10-year partnership with Brightsolid, an online publisher, to digitize 52,000 local, regional, national, and international newspapers. Within the next two years, a minimum of four million pages of newspapers will be digitized and within ten years, it is hoped that 40 million pages will be digitized.

In addition to the out-of-copyright newspapers, the partners are seeking to digitize in-copyright material after negotiations with rightsholders. The project aims to “build a critical mass of material for researchers – particularly in the fields of family history and genealogy.”

The digitized material will be available for free to users while on-site at the British Library.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Results from the Kindle DX pilot at the Darden School of Business

An article on the University of Virginia’s website discusses the results of the Kindle DX pilot that was conducted at the university’s Darden School of Business. The results from a mid-term survey showed that 75 to 80 percent of students would not recommend the device to incoming MBA students. According to the article, the Kindle DX is not flexible enough for the fast-paced and highly engaged learning environment at Darden, and students can not move quickly between course materials. However, 90 to 95 percent of participants did say that they would recommend the device for personal reading.

Despite the results, the pilot was informative. Michael Koenig, director of MBA operations, commented, “We were very excited to be part of the experiment. We learned a lot and are much more prepared as a top tier business school to face the complex challenges of digital content distribution for all future Darden students.’’

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Survey of Book-Buying Behavior

Verso Advertising recently released the results of its 2009 Survey of Book-Buying Behavior. The survey included 5,640 respondents and was weighted to mirror the 18+ U.S. population. The study has some interesting findings including:
  • 21.5% of book-buyers prefer to shop in local independent bookstores and 21.4% prefer to shop in chain bookstores however actual purchases do not reflect this. The effect is even more pronounced among avid book buyers.
  • A hybrid market is developing. Many people will buy and read both e-books and printed books.
  • E-reader penetration could reach 12-15% over two years. There is no near-term tipping point for e-reader adoption.
  • The primary time that consumers use e-readers is: reading at home (27%), traveling or commuting (24%), reading in bed (14%), during breaks in the workday (9%), and studying or school reading (6%).

PowerPoint slides of the findings can be found at this link.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

3D printers in education

An interesting article from BBC News discusses the potential for 3D printers in education. A few years ago, Adrian Bowyer, a mechanical engineering professor at Bath University in the UK, started a project called RepRap that allows anyone to build an openly licensed 3D printer for objects. The printers are affordable to build so schools could use them to give students the opportunity to design and print 3D models. However, this type of technology will likely expose inadequacies in copyright laws. Bill Thompson, author of the article explains, “3D printing will soon come up against laws made in a world of factories and machine tools, and the battle is likely to be even more intense than that over music and films.”

Here is a video demo of RepRap with more information about the technology.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Resource for Google Book Search Settlement info

Professor James Grimmelmann and his students at the New York Law School have created an informative website called The Public Index to study and discuss the proposed Google Book Search settlement. The website is a great resource for anyone seeking more information. It includes a document library, forums, and reports. Recently the group released a report that summarizes the latest objections and responses to the settlement.

The fairness hearing for the settlement was held in February but Judge Denny Chin has yet to rule. According to Publishers Weekly, it is not clear if he will rule due to a recent promotion. If another judge takes over the case, it will be the third judge since 2008.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

DRM video

Thanks to our friends North of the border for sharing the following short video on DRM. It would be interesting to see an update in the context of Amazon's recent efforts on the Kindle that keeps tracks of what people highlight in texts and allows them to be shared. What's next? Our private notes that we put in the margins? Absent of context, how could this information be used against consumers of digital media. The advantage is all to the individuals or organizations that control the delivery platform and the DRM -- As the video below notes, it kind of makes for a scary future in an Orwellian kind of way.

terms&conditions from mediamold on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Amazon tracks highlights in Kindle books

Amazon recently added a new feature to the Kindle called “Popular Highlights.” On Amazon’s website it says that the new feature “identifies the passages that are most highlighted by the millions of Kindle customers." It goes on to explain, “We combine the highlights of all Kindle customers and identify the passages with the most highlights. The resulting Popular Highlights help readers to focus on passages that are meaningful to the greatest number of people.”

An interesting article from MSNBC discusses the privacy concerns associated with this new feature. It points out that Amazon is not revealing the highlights of individual users but it is still collecting individual information which is a significant concern. Further, it is possible that Kindle users are not aware of this feature because it is turned on by default in the latest Kindle software. Users can opt out of Popular Highlights but it will disable another feature which automatically backs up notes and highlights in case the device crashes or is lost.

Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, noted that the U.S. has a tradition of carefully guarding the privacy of reading and there are laws which govern the release of library records. Stephens commented, “Librarians have been on the forefront of protecting people's privacy. This is an interesting paradigm change here, if electronic delivery of books becomes the norm. What is going to happen to this strongly held belief that what you read is entirely a private matter?"

A second article from BNET questions why Amazon would risk losing customer trust and sales for this feature. It also points out that any information that a user deems important in a book could potentially be used as ammunition against the reader and turned over to authorities if necessary.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The New Yorker on Amazon, Apple, and Google’s quest for market share

The New Yorker recently featured an interesting article by Ken Auletta, that takes a look at much of the e-book news from recent months. We have discussed a number of the topics in various blog postings but it is interesting to read an article with a summary of all the happenings. The article covers: the release of the iPad and the iBookstore; e-book pricing and the agency model; the challenges for bookstores; publisher concerns; and Amazon, Apple, and Google’s plans. There some good points and interesting quotes throughout the article. Here are a few interesting passages.

Auletta points out that it is all about market share:
There are now an estimated three million Kindles in use, and Amazon lists more than four hundred and fifty thousand e-books. If the same book is available in paper and paperless form, Amazon says, forty per cent of its customers order the electronic version. Russ Grandinetti, the Amazon vice-president, says the Kindle has boosted book sales over all. “On average,” he says, Kindle users “buy 3.1 times as many books as they did twelve months ago.”

But publishers also recognize the similarity between Amazon’s strategy and that of iTunes. One publisher said, “Get market share, and when you get far ahead it is hard to catch up. Bezos’s game, like Jobs’s before him, is to get the device and get eighty-to-ninety-per-cent distribution on the device, and you own the game.”

In regards to the challenges ahead for bookstores, Auletta notes:
“The analogy of the music business goes only so far. What iTunes did was to replace the CD as the basic unit of commerce; rather than being forced to buy an entire album to get the song you really wanted, you could buy just the single track. But no one, with the possible exception of students, will want to buy a single chapter of most books. Publishers’ real concern is that the low price of digital books will destroy bookstores, which are their primary customers. Burdened with rent and electricity and other costs, bricks-and-mortar stores are unlikely to offer prices that can compete with those of online venders. Roxanne Coady, who owns R. J. Julia Booksellers, an independent bookstore in Madison, Connecticut, said, “Bookselling is an eight-inch pie that keeps getting more forks coming into it. For us, the first fork was the chains. The second fork was people reading less. The third fork was Amazon. Now it’s digital downloads.”

An Apple adviser and Jonathan Burnham, the senior vice-president and publisher of HarperCollins, commented on what consumers want from bookstores:
The Apple adviser said, “The Internet makes everything available and cheaper. I compare bookstores to video stores ten years ago. Now I use Netflix or I download movies.” Book buyers understandably want both the convenience of the Web site and the intimacy of the store. But this obliges publishers to essentially run two businesses at once: a traditional publisher that sells bound books to stores and an electronic business that sells e-books online. “I think consumers, like publishers, are living in parallel universes,” Burnham says. “Consumers are educated to have a multiplicity of choices. They still like to go to a bookstore, while they also want everything available online.”

Monday, May 10, 2010

Internet Archive to make more books available to the blind and visually impaired

A recent article from the Associated Press, says that the Internet Archive has announced a new service to make more books available to the blind and visually impaired. The organization has hired hundreds of people to scan a variety of books into its digital database so that the books can be read by the devices used to convert text to speech. It is expected that one million books will be available initially which will more than double the titles available today. According to Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, currently only about five percent of published books are available in a digital form that is accessible to the visually impaired and there are even fewer books produced in Braille.

In the press release, Brewster Kahle, founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive, commented on the exciting news, “Every person deserves the opportunity to enhance their lives through access to the books that teach, entertain and inspire. Bringing access to huge libraries of books to the blind and print disabled is truly one of benefits of the digital revolution.”

Individuals, organizations, libraries, and publishers can donate books to the effort via this link.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

B&N and HP launch e-bookstore

Barnes & Noble and HP have announced the launch of a co-branded e-bookstore. The new store uses B&N’s e-commerce platform and the available titles are the same as those offered on B&N’s website. Kevin Frain, B&N executive vice president of e-commerce, noted, “We expect that there is going to be a lot of digital reading that is consumed on devices that aren’t specifically targeted to e-reading, such as laptops and netbooks. Our goal is to offer our e-bookstore to as many customers as possible.”

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Nook owners can read for free in-store

According to a recent article, consumers that own a Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader can now access the full text of any e-book from the store’s library while they are in a physical B&N location. However, there is a one-hour time limit for each book each day. The article points out that this functionality gives B&N a unique offering and gives consumers a reason to visit the physical store.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Google Editions to launch this summer

According to recent reports, Google is on track to launch its Google Editions program this summer. At the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2009, Google discussed its plans for the program and at a publishing event earlier this week, the company confirmed that it will launch in June or July. As mentioned previously, the program will give consumers the opportunity to purchase in-print e-books through Google Books, as well as publisher and partner retail websites. The digital books will be stored in a cloud so that users can access the books at any time, from any device, as long as the manufacturer of the device allows it.

According to an article from The Wall Street Journal, partners that work with Google will receive “the bulk of the revenue.” It has not been announced which partners and publishers are planning to participate. In addition, Google has not made a decision yet if it will set the prices of the books or allow publishers to set the prices.

It is important to note that Google Editions is about new digital books and is separate from the ongoing Google Book Search settlement which deals with out-of-print books. However, the two initiatives are related because if the settlement is approved, it would allow Google to sell the in-copyright out-of-print titles through the Google Editions program.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Students enrolled in executive summer program at Rutgers to receive iPads

This summer, Rutgers will give an iPad to each of the students enrolled in its Digital Marketing Mini-MBA program. According to the news release, Rutgers is seeking to combine in-person learning with digital technology to create a beneficial learning experience for students. The university chose the program for the pilot because it is designed for marketers that have an interest in the latest technologies and will be a good pilot course for testing the device.

Rutgers is currently working with Apple to customize the devices and programmers are developing custom applications for the course. Each of the devices will also come with all of the required materials for the course including: business cases, articles, chapters, and videos.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The iPad 3G

The iPad 3G went on sale over the weekend and according to Gene Munster, analyst for Piper Jaffray, Apple may have already sold about 300,000 3G devices. An article on the All Things Digital website says that by Sunday afternoon, many Apple stores were sold out of the device. In addition, Apple’s website now lists a waiting time of five to seven days for new orders. Munster estimates that Apple has sold more than a million iPads to date (WiFi and 3G models).

To find out more about the models, Mashable.com has an interesting review that compares the 3G and WiFi versions.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Microsoft Courier and HP Slate (Windows version) cancelled

According to Gizmodo, the Microsoft Courier project has been cancelled. Although the Courier was never officially announced, video demos and information about the potential device began circulating in October and it looked like a really promising device. Last week, Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Communications, spoke to Gizmodo and said, “At any given time, we're looking at new ideas, investigating, testing, incubating them. It's in our DNA to develop new form factors and natural user interfaces to foster productivity and creativity. The Courier project is an example of this type of effort. It will be evaluated for use in future offerings, but we have no plans to build such a device at this time.”

In addition to the Courier, it is being reported that HP has cancelled its Slate tablet that was designed to run Windows 7. The device was announced at the Consumer Electronic Show in January and expected to hit the market this year. Tech Crunch says that HP may not be satisfied with Windows as the operating system and could be focusing its energy on its Google Android tablet.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

eReader Resource

John Wiley & Sons recently developed a new website called eReader Resource to help consumers compare e-readers. Users can choose specific devices to compare or select desired features to see which devices match the specified criteria.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation looking to help support innovation in open courseware

According to an article from Wired Campus, last week during a speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bill Gates said that his foundation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is looking to support innovation in open courseware. Gates commented, “What's been done so far has had very modest funding. This is an area we need more resources, more bright minds, and certainly one that I want to see how the foundation could make a contribution to this." Gates commended MIT for its open courseware efforts but pointed out that there is still much work to be done to make courses more interactive and easier to find.