Are eBooks just textbooks on your phone or tablet or pc? Well, many really are pdfs that have just been resized to suit your device but there’s a growing ‘library’ of ebooks that are starting to harness the potential of digital technology. Although I agree with Gaby Wood’s view of the current quality of ebooks, I’m not so sure I agree that publishers are lazy. Let’s just say they were slow to turn around traditional financial models and perhaps prudently so as the technologies were rapidly evolving. There is now something approaching stability in the market with ePub3 which is generating a lot of support as shown at a recent London conference hosted by Jouve. Learning designers now have e-D rather than 3D. Material can be presented in the medium (text, video, audio, Q+A, online, classroom…) that makes most sense for the topic and target audience. Students and learners in general do not read whole textbooks, they cherry pick the relevant bits and perhaps read more of the areas they have highlighted when/if they re-read. As for bibliographies: does anyone ever read all of those? Well, I guess proofreaders and PhD super-stars ‘may’ – but even then I’m not really convinced. And on a Smartphone, would anyone ever??? Making the material sing and leading learners to do, analyze and create through interaction is the new e-D learning.
In short, textbooks are useful and, I think, will stay but eBooks are different. Learners and authors need to demand more.