Governor Schwarzenegger has announced plans for California high schools to start ditching textbooks in favor of digital media, starting with math and science books. The claim is that with so much information available in digital format, why waste precious little budget money on textbooks that just get outdated and tossed?
Similarly Taiwan plans to roll out e-readers in classrooms this year. This is part of their efforts to further digitize schools and promote reading.
E-readers are definitely cooler than reading PDF files on the laptop and/or computer. The reader is light-weight and easy to carry. In fact, it may not be just an e-reader. Some of the Sony mobile phones have e-reader software installed ; convergence makes for carrying fewer devices.
With e-readers, you probably do not have bother about outdated curriculum. In addition, rolling them out to schools promotes volumes and some form of subsidies.
And there’s always the green argument. E-books are so much greener than paper ones. More green gold!
For the next generation, at least, books in paper form may just become an anachronism.
But for me and others from my generation , until we are convinced that reading off a tiny screen is more convenient and not so much of a strain on our sensitive eyes , the switchover will have to wait. This is not that much of an argument against e-readers – most of us already access our email and the internet on our mobile phones. Also, there is the affordability issue. Books in India , especially ones printed by Indian publishers, cost a tiny fraction of what they cost in the developed world. Would we get the same kind of prices for the e-books? Would this make a case for discounted later editions of books? I have argued for this elsewhere; something like software versions available at discounted rates to existing users. And why not? It is about customer loyalty , after all. Though a more cynical reader may term it more of a lock-in. 🙂 And believe me , no-one likes that word or its connotations. Ha!
What about libraries? How would they make the transition to a digitized world?
Some libraries such as the British Council Library have decided to provide some of their collection of books as e-books to their patrons.
Here are some articles and posts related to schools and e-readers.
Updated for British Council Library.