Shawn Douglas notes several “signs that e-books and e-readers are becoming more popular, especially in libraries and the education sector,” including our Ebook Penetration & Use reports, Aptara’s 3rd Annual eBook Survey of Publishers, and EDUCAUSE and The New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report:
Education sector: A collaboration of non-profits EDUCAUSE and The New Media Consortium since 2005 has yielded an interesting annual report called the Horizon Report. This report “identifies and describes emerging technologies likely to have a large impact over the coming five years on a variety of sectors around the globe.” This year’s 2011 Horizon Report (PDF file) focuses on the education sector, and at the top of the list is the e-book.
The authors of the report make several important points about e-book adoption in the realm of teaching and learning. They mention that traditionally many constraints to e-book adoption exist in the academic realm, including scarcity of titles, inadequate features for scholarly work, poor publishing models, and excessive digital rights management (DRM) placed on digital material. “Most of these constraints are now vanishing,” the authors say, pointing to a wider variety of digital academic materials, replete with more interactive elements that make scholarly work easier to perform. The authors also point to the Directory of Open Access Journals and its 7,000+ journals (nearly 50 percent of them searchable at the article level) housed there as further proof that scholarly work is making its way to the digital realm.
Despite the advances e-books are making in the sector, the authors still recognize that DRM, pricing, and reader-dependent formats hinder further adoption in the academic world. However, the ubiquity of iPads, Kindles, and smart phones among students (and even professors) will keep the demand for high-quality, interactive digital information formats strong, pressuring publishers and universities to give students and teachers what they want.