Thursday, November 5, 2009

E-Books: Are People are Finally Ready?

November sky, near the athletic fields on Wednesday

This is purely anecdotal, but -

I notice that e-books are suddenly being greeted with previously-unseen enthusiasm this semester. Is it due to kindles and nooks creeping into the popular mindset?

The change in attitude has been subtle and difficult to pinpoint, but it seems that instead of reacting with surprise/fear/ennui, the majority of students are now expecting e-books and sometimes even look forward to using them. Particularly in instruction sessions, I'm noticing a downright electricity in the room when I bring up e-books. The first time a student asked in class how to use the e-books I nearly fell off my computer stool in surprise, but now I anticipate the interest as a matter of course.

It's true that in other semesters I heard a few students singing the praises of e-books (as well as students looking for 'regular' books, and why are you showing me all this confusing computer stuff?), but it's as if all of a sudden the idea of an e-book is understood and is being taken more seriously. Perhaps the word has sunk in?

I'm waiting until the end of the semester to review usage statistics, but even faculty (sometimes the slowest adopters, alas) seem to be catching on. I've helped a number of professors on the phone recently as they navigate our e-books. I wonder what the tipping point was -- Barnes & Noble, the economy, some textbooks being offered electronically, a critical mass of preference for electronic resources? Perhaps in a small way, our library's outreach efforts? In any case, the future seems to be arriving here.


  1. I'm actually doing a survey you find out how many of our student have/want e-readers. Most of them have no idea what I am talking about.

  2. Notice I was vague about the e-book specs -- our e-books are not download-able and are part of an ebrary collection that students have to log into. On the bright side, all students need is a browser (and no reader).