It seems that the days of the humble printed textbook, while they may be numbered, have not yet come to an end. I was very surprised to read the results of a survey by the Book Industry Study Group showing that three-quarters of college students still prefer print to digital textbooks. Surely these can not be the same twenty-somethings who spend their time tweeting, blogging, and updating Facebook from their smartphones?
Another report this week demonstrates phenomenal growth in the e-book market over the past year. Technology analyst Carmi Levy, in her article “Are e-books at the tipping point?” notes also that prices for e-readers have dropped by two-thirds in just three years, and the wide variety of devices that now support e-books bodes well for the electronic book industry.
US News and World Report ran an article a few weeks ago detailing the experiences of several MBA programs that are experimenting with delivering course content through the iPad. Most professors and students reported having a positive experience with electronic course packets and textbooks, but some noted the drawbacks of always needing to have a wireless connection to access the content. Devices such as the iPad can also prove to be a distraction in the classroom, particularly when compared to simple e-readers such as the Kindle or Nook.
With the variety of new tablet computers unveiled at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, it is clear that technology lovers will have many new options for accessing electronic texts in 2011. What this will mean for MBA students and professors remains to be seen.
Which devices do you currently use to access electronic books? Do you prefer e-books or traditional printed books, and why?