This feature takes a look at eBooks versus traditional texts. Some of us might be already familiar with eBooks, and not even know it (Have you ever opened a file with pdf?) The article discussed some of the advantages and disadvantages of eBooks. Worth a read. Also, free eBook links are attached.
A Glimpse into Technology: eBooks versus Traditional Texts
You just finished teaching math to your students in the classroom. Now you need your students to open up their geography books for their geography lesson. The students start to put their math books away – the students rustle around, and the volume starts to grow. One student leaves his geography book at home – you tell him to share with another student, so he has to move his desk in order to share the book. The noise continues. After a few minutes, everyone settles in, quiets down, and has a geography book on their desk. You are ready to start your lesson.
‘Open to page 423’ you say.
You start covering China. After a few minutes into the lesson, you realized that you forgot to print out the map on China that you need to hand out. Now you have to pick up that heavy Atlas and show everyone the map of China in order to describe the landforms.
This lesson is a pain. If there only was a better way…
So what are eBooks?
In case you have not heard of eBooks before, eBooks are the digital counterpart of physical books, except they act like web-browsers. Most people confuse eBooks with the eBook reader, which is the item you read an eBook with.
What do I need to read an eBook?
eBooks are downloadable to your computer or a hand-held devices. An eBook reader is most typically a handheld electronic device capable of displaying e-books. E-book reader software operates on an e-book reader providing copyright protection and book display functions. PDAs, pocket PCs, laptops and dedicated readers like Rocket E-book, Cybook and GoReader are examples of e-book readers, while MS Reader for the Pocket PC and Peanut Reader for Palm and MobiPocket are e-book reader software. They can be read while you’re offline, or they can be printed in hard-copy.
So, what’s the big deal? What are the benefits?
eBooks have a number of advantages over printable books. Some advantages that eBooks have over regular texts include the fact that they are:
2) Cost effective
3) Easily updatable
4) A space saver
5) Environmentally friendly
Some of these advantages are described in more detail below:
First of all, you have the ability to access information you want, when you want it. Did you ever try to find a piece of information in a printed book? If you don’t remember the exact page the information was on, you may scan through countless pages, some of the repeatedly. You may even scour over paragraphs and search for the targeted words. However, in an eBook, you search for a specific word or phrase, which can save you much time – either it is there , or it isn’t.
eBooks are much more cost-effective when compared to print versions of books. The cost of printing books is extremely high when you factor in the ink and paper costs alone not to mention other costs involved. And in many disciplines, by the time that text books reach the end-users, the information is grossly out of date.
Another advantage to eBooks is that they are extremely easy to update. No more printing runs to produce printed versions of textbooks, which are outdated too quickly as already noted. eBooks can be updated in seconds simply by editing the original files and then re-compiling the document back into an eBook. This capability creates a “living document” nature to eBooks over their traditional cousins.
eBooks also save an incredible amount of space. You can store a vast amount of electronic books in a single handheld device that students and teachers could carry from class to class. Examples of handheld devices include Palm Pilots, Pocket PCs, the hiebooks, the eBookMan, and more. Each has different operating systems, so documents must be converted to specific formats to be used on each device.
While eBooks are much cheaper and can also be available up to one full year sooner than their printed complements, let’s not overlook the positive impact eBooks could have on our environment. As our society becomes more concerned with issues of recycling and forest-conservation, the bottom line is that electronic distribution can help preserve our natural resources.
Are there any disadvantages?
There are some disadvantages, though I don’t think any of them would preclude the use eBooks in the classroom: The disadvantages include:
1) Unfamiliar technology
2) Different vendors to choose from
3) Requires working reader to read a book – a physical book requires no electrical device
The first two disadvantages are typical of typical of new technology, but they will go away in time as the technology matures and becomes more widespread.
The third disadvantage is purely aesthetics – if you are old fashioned and want the words permanently printed on bound paper, or just don’t trust technology, than eBooks are not for you!
eBooks are worth a peek if some of the advantages highlighted above will save you time and money. If you are uncomfortable with new technology, you may want to wait until the eBook technology matures over the next couple of years, and becomes more prevalent. Don’t be surprised when people start buying eBooks just like they buy movies or video games today!