What are Electronic Books?


As the technology underlying electronic readers has improved and as more titles have become available, electronic books are quickly reaching the point where their advantages over the printed book are compelling to almost any observer. The convenience of carrying an entire library in a purse, pocket, or book bag appeals to readers who find time for a few pages in between appointments or while commuting. Already firmly established in the public sector, electronic books are gaining a foothold on campuses as well, where they serve as a cost-effective and portable alternative to heavy textbooks and supplemental reading selections. The availability of portable electronic reading devices like the recently announced Apple iPad, the Amazon Kindle, the Nook, the Sony Reader, and book-reader applications designed for iPhone and other mobiles has made it easy to carry a wide selection of reading material in a small package, with that material updated wirelessly as new content becomes available.

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Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - alan alan Jan 27, 2010

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • although its not there yet for elementary schools, the idea of ebooks gives schools possible options for engaging reluctant readers. But first they need to get the graphics all set.- rob.ackerman rob.ackerman Feb 5, 2010
  • Electronic books provide wide and deep access to information that is not possible on the Web. It will change the way students today do research and examine topics. Instead of superficially scanning a broad range of information by researching on the Web, they will have the opportunity to dig much deeper and access primary, published sources that have been vetted in a way that is not possible on the Web. It may bring students back to the deeper, richer research conducted in a library by making a library of knowledge as convenient and accessible as the Internet. ~Karen Henke
  • Electronic books provide teachers and students with access to books for little to no cost. In fact, an online resource currently purchased by the district I work for grants students free access to thousands of books. In addition to low cost, ebooks are more durable and easier to store. - marisa.hartling marisa.hartling Feb 5, 2010 - alice.owen alice.owen Feb 7, 2010
  • As an end user device, the electronic book will provide convenient, immediate and powerful access to electronic learning materials; however, its true value and potential (like any end user device) will be when linked to a learning management system collecting and adapting to data from the user that will support their individual learning educational needs and objectives.- jeffrey.bajgot jeffrey.bajgot Feb 5, 2010
  • Electronic books solve a huge problem for schools - the weight of the bags children carry. This has been a serious health concern for many years now. Also, having access to the full text and being able to interact with it, read and explore it with other resources, it may be a way to reconquer the love of a full rich deep reading, going beyond the superficial reading children seem to do now. - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Feb 6, 2010 - alice.owen alice.owen Feb 7, 2010 - oystein.johannessen oystein.johannessen Feb 7, 2010
  • This area has already changed the way we adopt and distribute curriculum materials - dan.phelan dan.phelan Feb 7, 2010
  • Texas will be allowing districts to select electronic texts instead of hardback books. We will also be allowed to spend remaining textbook money on devices to read textbooks. Procedures are still being established, but this is a huge breakthrough that will push publishers into new ways of thinking about content. Digital texts should be much more than just a PDF file of the textbook. Here is an opportunity to develop rich, non-linear, interactive media that can be updated over time. - alice.owen alice.owen Feb 7, 2010
  • Ebooks that are online, even subscription based and incorporate interactivity are in force in HE. The relevance of this technology is already clear especially when using the more advanced formats: It provides great convenience over heavy (and static) books, potentially aids in making connections between subjects and between readers (if so formated) so it could further interdiciplinary study and communication for the purpose of teaching and learning. Kids much prefer these formates and growing numbers of teachers see its value as well. - chris.brown chris.brown Feb 8, 2010
  • e-books present a huge opportunity for a class of vendors (namely educational publishers, who have been largely confused about how to tap the deluge of dollars/pounds/Euros etc. that has accompanied the mass infusion of computers in schools) to market and sell their products to education systems in new ways. - michael.trucano michael.trucano Feb 8, 2010
  • There is an amazing opportunity now to help shape what a rich media ebook really looks like. How is media viewed, augmented, distributed and used in collaborative learning environments. eBooks need to be transformative not just an evolution of the current technology. With touch screens and mobile devices there is a true opportunity to really engage learners with learning materials appropriate for this generation of learners. - don.henderson don.henderson Feb 22, 2010

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • I think it is time we consider a name change to the term 'book', as it is not just a means of knowledge transfer/distribution/sharing, unless we change the definition of 'book' :). What it is is an interactive platform for a variety of learning purposes, and with web 2.0, and soon web 3.0 tools built onto this platform, it may not be meaningful to think in terms of 'book'. More importantly, perhaps, is the need for educators to figure out how to use this platform in pedagogically sound ways for teaching and learning. - horncheah horncheah Feb 5, 2010
  • Instead of thinking about ebooks within the narrow framework of a textbook or even a book, we should think about them as a library of information. The first book printed by Gutenberg mimicked the style and design of the illuminated Bibles of his day. During the in canabula period of printing, there was tremendous innovation in design and functionality of printed texts that resulted in many of the standards and even the type design of books we use today. Ebook technology has the potential of ushering in a new period of massive change in the way that knowledge is recorded, organized, and accessed. ~Karen Henke
  • This theme will become larger and larger. It will allow districts to purchase personalized materials aligned to the standards of the district, and more and better links for extensions and more practice for students, teachers and parent.- dan.phelan dan.phelan Feb 7, 2010
  • This changes the game for who should provide content and how we go about the whole adoption process. - alice.owen alice.owen Feb 7, 2010
  • Here as in other areas we as educators need to address the issue of open standards in order to avoid lock-in and monopoly. Learners must be able to access e-books without being locked to a specific product such as Kindle or Ipad.- oystein.johannessen oystein.johannessen Feb 7, 2010
  • I believe the "ebook" format will be (will continue to be) very fast changing as users in different segments (trade press, HE, K12 elementary and K12 secondary) require differnt features and functionaility. For example, young elementary students (and preK) will respond extremely well to touch technologies which may become prevalent in som devices designed for this age group while older students will seek the interactive note taking and/or lecture capture features of some "ebooks". Many ebooks are already capable of providing high levels of interactivity and rich multi-media. So I agree with those who feel the "book" part of the name of this technology is a misnomer. I think ultimately the technology is about connecting a reader with content in a much much deeper, more individually varied way, so that no two reader's experiences are the same. If I had to call the category something I would call it "ibooks" or "icontent" or "istories" or "iformat" where "i" is for individual. - chris.brown chris.brown Feb 8, 2010

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • the impact will be on textbooks being replaced, and students beginning to see digitized text as very different from the standard linear text. Hypertext will allow different points for choice for the reader to deepen understanding.- rob.ackerman rob.ackerman Feb 5, 2010
  • Just as the printing press created a new class of authors and consumers of books, ebooks have the potential of creating a new class of creators of content. Self-publishing, sharing, mashing up content, and publishing original student and teacher work may be possible. Because this will change the economics of publishing, it will change the location of creative control. eBooks may also revive the art of the short story. Publishing and distributing short stories in the current model of print publishing is costly. Being able to access and read short stories in an ebook format may make them a better fit for the new paradigm of publishing. user/Karen Henke - alice.owen alice.owen Feb 7, 2010
  • First and foremost, eBooks allow for more equitable access to resources. I also agree that eBooks will the change the face of textbooks. This is already the case with the advent of open-source materials.- marisa.hartling marisa.hartling Feb 5, 2010
  • The impact will depend on the extent to which the electronic book (as suggested in some of the entries above) is actually takes advantage of the electronic environment. It's my understanding that many publishers aren't much beyond the movement of their content to a different medium - and not necessarily capitalizing on all the new medium has to offer. - jeanne.century jeanne.century Feb 6, 2010
  • The eBook fits well with the profile of the new consumer, who wants to have only what he chooses, doesn't want to have to buy the content the sellers are "pushing". This is already obvious in the recording industry. Today it is normal for consumers to buy only the song they want, without having to take home a whole CD. The same for textbooks. We don't use the whole book. So it would be great to be able to purchase only the parts we will have time to use in the classroom. The same for reading. The children are used to interacting with what they are reading. They want to participate, not just look at the text. By having more resources, it will be closer to what kids are used to (as they grow up with videogames and interactive use of the internet). Kids will again identify with the book, as it goes to a medium they now consider to be natural. - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Feb 6, 2010 - alice.owen alice.owen Feb 7, 2010 - oystein.johannessen oystein.johannessen Feb 7, 2010
  • This theme will become larger and larger. It will allow districts to purchase personalized materials aligned to the standards of the district, and more and better links for extensions and more practice for students, teachers and parent.- dan.phelan dan.phelan Feb 7, 2010
  • The impact on teaching, learning and creative expression will be most impressive with respect to technology's ability to connect teachers and subject areas through social networking techniques like tagging, commenting, etc. Remember that I am talking here about ebooks that are online and interactive - even if that means a link to a comapnion website or wiki, provided by an author, publisher or community of readers. So, this technology will further interdisciplinary teaching and learning, fostering project based learning in some cases and as the format will also allow for user supplementation of content, it can contribute to constructivist learning and great creativity. Charles Dickens wrote at a time when his stories were published in serial chapters each month (leading to very long books :). I can imagine a return to serial publishing where readers augment stories to suit their personal choices, voting on varied endings, etc. I can imagine when the next Harry Potter is delivered on mobiles with embedded games as part of the narrative and where the reader's interaction facilitates a unique journey through the story. I can imagine similar, very personal, pathways though educational content toward the agreed upon skill or knowledge outcome standard.- chris.brown chris.brown Feb 8, 2010
  • One theme that seems to be missing related to intellectual property. As end users increasing consumer 'books' in digital formats, the incentives for piracy grow exponentially. One presumes that publishers today are where the music industry was in 1998 and the movie industry was in, say 2007. The proliferation of e-books provides a great impetus for action )and reaction) in this area. - michael.trucano michael.trucano
  • Interaction with ebooks in a social networking setting is also emerging. http://www.readcloud.com/ (social e-reading software) provides a unique way to read, annotate, collaborate, and enjoy reading as well as deep learning. Other social sites such as Library Thing and ReadAbout allow students to develop book collections, keep a record of what they are reading, and share their views. Done in digital format, these activities will become a natural extension of ebooks. - judy.oconnell judy.oconnell Feb 9, 2010

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Pearson has developing and is evolving an ebook format called etext that is highly interactive in support of today's learner, including supporting user generated content.- chris.brown chris.brown Feb 8, 2010
Please share information about related projects in our Horizon K-12 Project form.