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The Times they are A'Changing

As technology normally makes things go faster, which it then creates problems as with many things technology is out pacing the time that it takes for a lot people to adapt. Recent press releases about ebook sales show that they increased over 200% in the last year, making ebook sales higher than print sales for the first time (with print down 34%). This kind of change isn't new, but for may they just were not expecting it to happen this fast for print. Music publishers were surprised at the MP3 revolution, TV was surprised at the video recorder/tape revolution, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that stove/oven makers were surprised by the microwave.  Although, here fast is a relative term. The first mention of devices like ebooks that I can find occurred with Robert A. Heinlein's Space Cadet from the 1950's, and I've been attending the conference on electronic books for over ten years, but when it actually happens it catches many by surprise. I'm always reminded of the book Everything is Miscellaneous when I hear these things, as a similar issue occurred when people changed from scribing to movable print. I don't think that things will ever switch over to digital only, at least in my lifetime, but I do feel that it will change for the majority. 


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Ebooks as Textbooks - Part 2 - Highlighting

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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. 

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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…