Skip to main content


The question of ebooks as textbooks keeps coming up, along with questions of why are they not common yet. There are a number of factors that I see in the delay. First and foremost, at the college level, textbooks are chosen by the professor of record, and unless they are more ebook savvy, they will most likely be doing what they have done before and going with what they know. Why might they not know about ebooks and open source options, it could be that no one told them. A common way for instructors to find out about texts is a book representative shows up and helps explain the texts that they have for their class, there isn't usually anyone doing the same for opensource textbooks. Some of this may change quickly though, as both Florida's and Texas' Departments of Education have proposed changing to all digital texts by 2013-2015. If PK-12 schools do change to a fully digital format, then students showing up to colleges will have more of an expectation and experience skill set with digital textbooks. These states, but with state textbook adoption rules, are very powerful in influencing textbook design and publication.

As for students needed to interact with textbooks differently than novels, that is very true. To be an effective e-textbook, students will need to have the ability to interact with the texts to do things such as take margin notes, bookmark, underline, highlight, etc.

As a side note, I'm always a bit concerned when data about ebooks from the National Association of College Stores. I'm not surprised that they report that less than 3 percent of textbook sales are digital books, but what else could that mean? It doesn't necessarily include the rented ebooks, or ebooks that students get access to with printed text, it wouldn't include at all open source texts (such as I use with my undergraduate class) as there is no sales associated with such books.

As the e-book market explodes, publishers and educators debate why e-textbooks lag behind -- and what they should even look like. Campus Technology (3/1/11)


Popular posts from this blog

Ebooks as Textbooks - Part 2 - Highlighting

Highlighting can be a very effective tool in reading and learning no matter the kind of text being read: from novels to textbooks.

Most textbooks or other forms of information text will usually used text features along with graphics to help organize information presented in the text.  These elements are done to help focus attention on important or key concepts and provide additional information. The text organization itself can include structural elements such as heading, subheading, index, glossary, paragraph spacing, bulleted or numbered lists, sidebars or side boxes, italics, underlines or bold for words or even sections. Graphic content can include the use of symbols, colors, illustrations, pictures, diagrams, charts, and graphs.
The act of highlighting is less time consuming and much easier than note-taking (to be discussed in an upcoming posting). To be effective in highlighting it should be a kind of metacognitive approach of sifting or filtering to identify the important content…

Ebooks as Textbooks Part 6 - Taking Note

The process of taking notes, makes reading that much more of an active process and will aid in comprehension and retention. The addition of your own personal notes are usually easier to understand and remember than textbook material. As a student reads the textbook, he or she may not remember all of that they read when they have finished - this is especially true of very dense texts. But, if a student reads the information and also writes down notes about what he or she is reading at the same time, then that extra step reinforces that information and improves retention. So one of the best ways to retain information you are reading it is to take notes while you are actually reading it, for print books these notes were usually written in the margins of the text and so were called margin notes. 

The taking of margin notes is a strategy that focuses your attention on important information from the textbook, novels, or articles that you are reading. Because it involves tagging key words or …

Google Maps

An exciting time today, as I was riding my bike to work, I saw the Google Maps Car driving by. You may be wondering what the Google Maps car has to do with ebooks, but often books have maps and Google Books has lots of books with Google Maps developed from extracting the locations from the text. This kind of mapping got me so excited that myself and Jerome Burg wrote a book on using digital mapping with books. But the car reminded me that these maps are out there just waiting for you to start using them. For example if you go to Google Books, and you are reading Vern's Around the World in 80 Days, look in the About this Book section, and then scroll down to see if the book has a Places mentioned in this book... component.

In one class I copied the map from Google Books and then we put it on the wall, so that as we read the book, we tracked where we were in the story on the wall map. One warning though, for some reason the books with maps in Google Books seems to randomly change fr…