"'Math hasn't changed since Isaac Newton,' declares Scott McNealy. So why, he asks, is California paying some $400 million annually to 'update' grade-school textbooks?"
That's some of the motivation from Scott McNealy that Forbes
has reported on recently. It turns out that there is a lot of money being made from textbooks that just might not be really adding any value to what a global community effort can do. In fact, the community effort might turn out to be better and more timely, and Scott McNealy is just the sort of individual that might be able to make it a success.
But it turns out that the future of textbooks is also somewhat in the hands of world governments. According to the Booksellers Association Blog
, "the Chinese government plans to issue 165 million students with ebook readers and in doing so obviate the need to buy textbooks." Furthermore, "Libya could now become the first country to provide every school-age child with a laptop computer and internet connection." This is through the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) intiative, which "has also reached tentative purchase agreements with Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria and Thailand."
As we develop and learn how to do open source textbooks, and as e-book and laptop technology advanced, it is hard to argue that paper books will dominate in the future of the classroom. Paper may not be completely eliminated, but it certainly looks like it will have to share the spotlight with e-books.