E-books Change Publishing, Not Education

I saw in MacDailyNews today that Keybookshop has over 18,000 edcuational e-books waiting for the iPad. That good news, I suppose, as far as it goes, which isn’t all that far. It even takes us a little backward. When I buy a book, I buy rights to the book itself, which means I am free to pass it on to someone else. I don’t actually buy an e-book; I rent it, and so cannot legally pass it on from my iPad to your Kindle. Books are also platform agnostic. E-books are cheaper than paper books to produce and distribute, but that changes publishing, not education. (Let’s put aside the discussion about how the high price of texts restricts access to information.) Even an interactive e-book is still a Web 1.0, or read-web, artifact. I am waiting for the day when I can get my hands on a UI like this Adobe-WIRED collabortion with dual axis navigation, shown below, combined with Dynamic Books, Macmillan publishing’s idea for editable e-books.

Unlike Macmillan, which wants to let instructors to edit their textbooks, I want my students to be able to add and edit content. I see myself seeding a custom e-textbook with content that the students add to and edit through the year as they individually need–not custom courseware, but custom student-ware. The dual axis navigation would let them build subject area content along one axis and interdisciplinary connections along the second. This sort of Web 2.0, or read-write web artifact would be change a game changer.


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