Book Publishers Fight the Inevitable

From the New York Times:

Last week, a host of book publishers, led by Simon & Schuster, said they will delay publication of e-reader versions of many books because they were afraid the electronic copies were cannibalizing sales of more expensive hardcover editions …

Publishers are understandably worried about their changing business model, as they face new pressures from authors as well as readers. But do they really believe that they will boost their bottom lines by making it harder for these devoted readers to buy books?

The consumer understands that digital means immediate and infinite, and the limits imposed by paper no longer exist. As Amazon’s chief executive, Jeffrey Bezos, noted in a recent interview with The New York Times, “For every 100 copies of a physical book we sell, where we have the Kindle edition, we will sell 48 copies of the Kindle edition. It won’t be too long before we’re selling more electronic books than we are physical books.”

Yet some publishers are trying to do everything they can to look the other way and pretend the new products and delivery pathways haven’t changed old business models.

Read the entire article.

Will the Kindle Change Education?



From Scholastic Administr@tor:

Some educators say they are already convinced that e-book readers are what schools need. “For the longest time, distribution of reading materials has been highly inefficient in getting the right material to the right student at the right moment,” says Daniel Witz, a language arts teacher at Lake Bluff Middle School, near Chicago. “You have maybe four books of a fiction title; if a fifth kid wants to be part of that circle, you don’t have that copy,” he says.

Students provided with Kindles, which can hold some 1,500 digital books, can simply download the copies they need, without burdening a school’s media center, Witz says.

With access to the vast bookshelf of titles, teachers could tempt reluctant readers with high-interest magazines and nonfiction, or they could feed their voracious readers with popular series.

Kindles stocked with well-chosen e-books would also allow teachers to flex new teaching strategies, according to Cornelia Brunner, the deputy  director at the Center for Children and Technology in New York City. “You could have a very nicely selected group of readings. . . . Kids could read, annotate, and actually clip and be asked to make connections among those clippings,” says Brunner.

Other possible benefits include providing students with more books electronically than is practical in print, reducing photocopying, relieving the unhealthy weight of student backpacks, and—though this case is far from proven—saving school districts money on textbooks.

Read the entire article here.

A Better Pencil

A Better Pencil

A Better Pencil

From A Better Pencil, by Dennis E. Baron:

I start with Plato’s critique of writing where he says that if we depend on writing, we will lose the ability to remember things. Our memory will become weak. And he also criticizes writing because the written text is not interactive in the way spoken communication is. He also says that written words are essentially shadows of the things they represent. They’re not the thing itself. Of course we remember all this because Plato wrote it down — the ultimate irony.

We hear a thousand objections of this sort throughout history: Thoreau objecting to the telegraph, because even though it speeds things up, people won’t have anything to say to one another. Then we have Samuel Morse, who invents the telegraph, objecting to the telephone because nothing important is ever going to be done over the telephone because there’s no way to preserve or record a phone conversation. There were complaints about typewriters making writing too mechanical, too distant — it disconnects the author from the words. That a pen and pencil connects you more directly with the page. And then with the computer, you have the whole range of “this is going to revolutionize everything” versus “this is going to destroy everything.”

More than a little food for thought …