There were countless numbers of booklover’s tears shed recently with the news that Borders and Angus & Robertson have gone into voluntary administration.
Both of these companies have played a part in my life and the prospect of losing them hit a personal chord with me, not only because of the appreciation I have for them, but also because I have inadvertently helped to twist the proverbial knife and contributed to their demise.
To put things into perspective, since entering the e-book world approximately 18 months ago, I have added 50 books to my Kindle ‘library’. Approximately 60 percent of those were purchased at the full digital price ($10 or more) whilst the remaining 20 or so would have been free or at very low cost (though all downloaded through lawful means).
As a comparison, whilst I have certainly enjoyed the aroma of Gloria Jeans whilst browsing in Borders on a few occasions in this time frame, I can only count 2 physical books that I have purchased since I have owned my Kindle/iPad*.
I’m certainly not saying that digital sales are the sole reason why these bookstores are struggling. It’s most likely a combination of a tough economy, online/overseas sales of physical books, as well as the growth of digital content and e-books. However, it is clear that the rise in digital content is happening at unprecedented rates and it’s more important than ever to be prepared for the digital world.
We’ve been hearing about the movie and music industries and more recently the news media and book publishing industries, who have all been fighting/trying to evolve into the digital world, however I personally would have thought that bookstores would be one of the last remaining bricks and mortar stores, amongst these industries.
So, what does all of this mean for schools? No doubt schools will still be able to purchase books and textbooks from their suppliers for a few years too, however, the momentum of the consumer world almost always leads to the same change occurring in the commercial/business world and based on this news, e-books may become prevalent more quickly than expected.
Digital content is only one part of the equation. The hardware and resources that are used to interact with the digital content are equally important. Taking a book as an example, the hardware to view a digital book is far more expensive than purchasing a standalone book, however purchasing each e-book makes the total cost of ownership progressively cheaper, along with other additional benefits.
I thought I’d leave you with a few thoughts to digest about some digital systems that I see becoming increasingly important in the classroom:
- Content over IP systems – a system such as DVC which allows you to record, store and share content such as videos, movies and documents over your network
- E-book readers – Popular solutions currently include the Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad and Sony e-book readers. This form of digital content would probably be more prevalent in a school environment already, if there was a digital solution available that allowed the borrowing of books in the way that student’s can currently borrow books from a library or resource centre
- Tablet computers/portable devices – portable devices such as iPads and iPods will play a more important role in the classroom than ever before with millions of applications becoming available as well as more relevant educational content
- Communication services over IP network – Hardware and software based communications are becoming increasingly prevalent with more people using IP (internet-based) communications for voice and video communications as a means of education as well as communication between colleagues and friends
- Display devices/digital signage – These devices are already becoming more prevalent in school environments and are replacing existing signage boards with digital content that can be updated in real time
If you’re looking for advice, or better yet, if you have any suggestions or ideas on bridging the digital world in a school environment, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
*I recently went as far as purchasing Stephen King’s ‘Dark Tower’ series as e-books, even though I own them in physical form. This decision was made because I wanted to reacquaint myself with The Dark Tower series before the movie/TV series is released and as I was travelling overseas, I didn’t want to carry the 7 books around with me.