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Old 11-18-2009, 09:59 AM   #1
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Toronto school ditches textbooks for Sony readers

Article here.

Two points which jumped out at me:

1) They told the students they could also download books for free, and asked them if knowing this made them likely to do so. Most of them said yes. So there is hope for getting today's techie generation of non-readers turned into lifelong fiction fans here! I personally feel that a growth in entertainment options has contributed to a shrinking in people who read for fun, and this is by far the bigger threat to the publishing 'industry' than the whole silly e-versus-p argument. Maybe more stories like this will convince them that they might do BETTER with an e-model...

2) One of the reader comments mentions this will save children's backs from having to carry such heavy backpacks. I know many students who have backpacks which weigh almost as much as they do! Never mind the textbooks, they have lunches, sports gear, binders, school supplies etc. Eliminating twenty pounds of textbook can have a real benefit. Even the 'I love the smell of paper' people can't argue with that one. Maybe in some situations, paper IS better (I never got into e-cookbooks, for example---I need to be able to see a whole spread at once) but in some situations, e is better or, at least, just fine. It does not have to be an either/or situation where there are no paper books in the world, ever, because of ebooks.
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Old 11-18-2009, 11:01 AM   #2
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For day to day stuff it does seem like a good idea, but you do have to wonder about subjects with textbooks that are too graphical for current ereaders to cope, not to mention when it comes to revise for a test and you just can't flick from page to page with the same ease of a paper version.
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Old 11-18-2009, 11:08 AM   #3
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It's nice to see someone pointing out that things do not have to be either/or. Saying that ebooks are better or paper books are better and that only one can survive is a bit like saying that because you like chocolate ice cream that no other ice cream should be allowed to be eaten (I like neopolitin myself).

I think that the schools using a Sony Reader in place of text books is a great idea. It will ease the burden of children in regards to weight, trying to keep the books in good condition, and might even draw students into ACTUALLY studying seeing as the tech aspect is so interesting.

I also mirror the hope that more kids will be drawn into reading for fun. If the aspect of downloading free ebooks can bring even one more person into literature than it is a worth while experiment.

On the downside, I have used Coursesmart.com for on-line text books and I have to say that flipping between answer keys, index, and various pages in review is no where near as easy as it is with a traditional text book...necessity being the mother of invention maybe that issue will force manufacturers to come up with a good solution to the problem.

Last edited by jabberwock_11; 11-18-2009 at 11:11 AM.
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Old 11-18-2009, 11:22 AM   #4
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The Sony readers can handle .pdfs fine, so any graphical content ``just works'' so long as the pages are formatted for the screen size of the readers.

It's far easier to download an updated file than it is to re-copy all of the errata into a printed book.

Flipping back and forth feels slower 'cause of the slow screen re-fresh and need to press-hold the page forward/backward button to move by 10 pages, but going directly to a given page # (the more typical scenario in classes IME) is quite a bit more direct.

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Old 11-18-2009, 12:31 PM   #5
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Good for Timmy's assigned readings of James and the Giant Peach or perhaps Deerslayer for his book reports...

Not so good for anything particularly scholarly.

I remember in university when my professors would make 200+ page course books that we'd have to get from the University print shop...and I thought it'd rock to get them as electronic files...but no bloody way with the kind of readers we are settling for these days.

Last edited by LDBoblo; 11-18-2009 at 12:33 PM. Reason: commentary
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Old 11-18-2009, 01:35 PM   #6
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LDBoblo, I had such a thing as an ebook and it was a disaster. Any of the pages that did not scan as clearly (e.g. because of callout boxes or other layout issues) could not be searched so it was hard to go back and find something later. And it was DRMd up the wazoo---you couldn't cut and paste even a single word or line to cite in an essay, or download to a mobile device, or anything. Huge waste of money. And it is from the same company they mention in the article

But thinking back to all the classical literature I had to read for my English degree back in the dinosaur days of 1997, I could have saved an absolute fortune if I had an ebook reader then. My Norton Shakespeare alone would have paid for half a Sony Reader. Probably 60% of my course readings were public domain, and of the remaining 40%, at least half of those are modern novels which by now would be in buyable ebook editions. Might not be the best solution for, say, an engineering major. But a literature major like me, it would have been amazing.
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Old 11-19-2009, 05:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ficbot View Post
LDBoblo, I had such a thing as an ebook and it was a disaster. Any of the pages that did not scan as clearly (e.g. because of callout boxes or other layout issues) could not be searched so it was hard to go back and find something later. And it was DRMd up the wazoo---you couldn't cut and paste even a single word or line to cite in an essay, or download to a mobile device, or anything. Huge waste of money. And it is from the same company they mention in the article

But thinking back to all the classical literature I had to read for my English degree back in the dinosaur days of 1997, I could have saved an absolute fortune if I had an ebook reader then. My Norton Shakespeare alone would have paid for half a Sony Reader. Probably 60% of my course readings were public domain, and of the remaining 40%, at least half of those are modern novels which by now would be in buyable ebook editions. Might not be the best solution for, say, an engineering major. But a literature major like me, it would have been amazing.
As a philosophy major, it would have been quite nice. And scholarly works in philosophy do display adequately on a six inch (or, gasp, five inch) screen.

Luqman
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Old 11-19-2009, 05:58 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ficbot View Post
LDBoblo, I had such a thing as an ebook and it was a disaster. Any of the pages that did not scan as clearly (e.g. because of callout boxes or other layout issues) could not be searched so it was hard to go back and find something later. And it was DRMd up the wazoo---you couldn't cut and paste even a single word or line to cite in an essay, or download to a mobile device, or anything. Huge waste of money. And it is from the same company they mention in the article

But thinking back to all the classical literature I had to read for my English degree back in the dinosaur days of 1997, I could have saved an absolute fortune if I had an ebook reader then. My Norton Shakespeare alone would have paid for half a Sony Reader. Probably 60% of my course readings were public domain, and of the remaining 40%, at least half of those are modern novels which by now would be in buyable ebook editions. Might not be the best solution for, say, an engineering major. But a literature major like me, it would have been amazing.
A ebook reader would have saved me a fortune while I was doing my French / Italian degree! We read a lot of public domain books as well then, (Back in the dinosaur days of '99) and some of it could get pricey. As it is, my reader is saving me a lot of money now that I am doing my masters in Classical philology - 99 % of what I read is public domain.
On a side note, I had a friend who attended the secondary school mentioned in the article. I would love to see this implemented in other schools as well, I think it is fantastic.
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