In my news items today - reports of a North American university giving iPads away to its students, and another giving students a choose between a free iPhone or iPod Touch.
Recently Reuters commented "It's the old razors and blades thing. You give away the razor and sell the blades in perpetuity", commenting that the price war in e-book readers stil l has a way to go. Amazon is hoping the e-books sales will be the revenue driver, rather than the devices themselves.
Just recently Amazon announced that their e-book sales were booming, and the sceptics commented that it was probably not just the availability of Kindles, but of the Kindle App on the iPad, plus the Kindle for PC software for laptops and computers that have driven the sales.
I see the which device? discussion as a bit of a barrier at the moment. The problem is that no-one really seems to have come up with a cheap enough device that will handle all e-book formats at the moment. The iPad comes close, but involves downloading a number of apps, and several different methods of acquiring books, none of which involves borrowing. Laptops and netbooks and tablets come close too, particularly if you don't want to have number of electronic devices to cart around.
We really need two things:
- a device that will read all formats
- a vendor that will sell all formats
And after that we need to solve problems of lending e-books, copyright restrictions, geographic restrictions.
But above all we need to agree that e-books are a good way to go in education, and we need to recognise that we can be not just consumers, but creators of e-books.