Digital Books Struggling Toward Forefront

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Jul. 16, 2012 12:00 am  

Another task for tablets is to, eventually, serve as textbooks.

Currently, most schools, especially in higher education, aren't taking this route.

Donald Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System, said the schools will soon be introducing a few pilot programs to have fully digital textbooks. The digital books will be available at no cost to the students, meaning they pay only the tuition for the class. Bobbitt said lowering costs for students is a major goal at the schools.

There are still hurdles: At Hendrix College in Conway, Chief Information Officer David Hinson said one issue is making the textbooks compatible with e-readers.

"Many of the e-readers are not up to the task to fully handle the contents of textbooks," he said. "The Nook device and the Kindle are really underpowered to provide a fully interactive type of thing."

The faculty is interested, Hinson said, but at the moment most school e-book innovation is focused in the K-12 area.

Indeed, at Harrisburg Middle School, Karli Saracini said moving to digital books is in the works, but still a ways off. "A book doesn't have everything you need," she said. "You need to pull from different sources."

She said the school's librarian is working on a grant to get Nooks in the library for students to check out. "We're going to ask for several of the Nooks that are the $99 ones," Saracini said. "Those would be the ones students can check out and take home."



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