Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

E-Books and DRM

Electronic books are easy to use and to buy, but problems arise from incompatible formats in digital rights management technologies and the difficulty in organizing purchased titles. Converting titles to PDF files are often clumsy and the popular ePub format really doesn’t yet allow for seemless cross-platform support to go from one manufacturer’s electronic reader to another. Many devices have versions of ePub files "optimized" for their device. Furthermore, the challenges of understanding the varying forms of DRM is a current weakness of much of the digital course materials market, and further complicates the purchase process for students.

A new study from ABI Research points out that being able to buy content from any source, regardless of the device being used, will drive the digital publishing industry. It could become a concern for the college store trying to provide its customers with a variety of devices for sale. Even the apps created to allow readers to buy on different devices require the appropriate software to read the what they bought.

The ABI Research study suggests consumers need the flexibility to shop at different e-bookstores, just like they do at any other retailer. It also points to the need for consumers to be able to see the titles they’ve purchased in unified fashion on a phone, tablet, a laptop, or PC.

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