in eBooks, Ramblings, Tech

What’s next: eBook readers

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about eBook readers and their place in a learning environment. We’re at an interesting point in their adoption right now, with the technology not quite mature. Libraries (and educators in general) need to be taking a look at currently available devices and thinking about what’s coming next.

I’ll be the first to admit that students aren’t using eBook readers en masse yet. In fact I can count the number of eReader devices I’ve seen used in public on one hand. And while I definitely don’t think the printed paper page will ever disappear completely, I do believe that someday eReaders will play a substantial role in students’ lives.

Today’s students are the so-called ‘digital natives’, those who grew up with computers and related technology embedded throughout their lives. As a result they have very different expectations and competencies than previous generations. When it comes to eReaders, today’s students are that previous generation. Tomorrow’s students will be the eReader literate crowd. Ideally we’d take an active role in creating publishing standards and devices while that generation comes of age, but I’m not sure that’s realistically possible. At the very least we need to keep a sharp eye on what’s coming and make our concerns and best practices known.

Meanwhile I’m deeply concerned by a lot of what I see happening in the arena of DRM and eBook readers. But that’s a topic for another post.