FacultyEnlight

2013: YEAR OF THE E-BOOK

As e-book sales continue to rise and print book sales keep declining, many wonder: what is the future of e-books? What innovations are still in store for higher ed? And are e-books successfully taking off around the world, or just in the U.S.?

It isn’t all bad news for independent booksellers—some of whom are doing quite well given the many closings of chain bookstores. But still, e-books are growing at an astounding rate. Kobo, a Canadian-based e-book retailer, recently reported 98% growth in first quarter revenue across its device and content sales. Their network includes nearly 18,000 retailers, and the company claims to sell around 50% of Canada’s e-books. Globally, they cover up to 20% of the e-book sales in France, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil.

Clearly, e-books have gone global, and many companies are cashing in on it. Retail giant Amazon is finally releasing its Kindle e-readers and tablets in China. Though the market is competitive and full of government restrictions, China places 2nd only to the U.S. in e-reader/e-book sales worldwide. For higher education students in China, the competition could actually be a boon, translating to lower costs, more options, and improved apps for learning.

Digital textbook sales are growing at an astounding rate, thanks in part to affordable prices and the ever-growing popularity of e-readers and tablets. In fact, it’s predicted that the sales of college e-textbooks will grow by 80 to 100% over the next few years. Primary school students are even being prepped for what might eventually be a paperless textbook era: With donated titles and Nooks from Barnes & Noble in the U.K., reading is becoming increasingly accessible and affordable to every income bracket.

No matter where in the world students are, social media is enhancing reading for all. It is no longer enough to simply have interesting text. It’s 2013, and readers are looking to connect with authors and ask questions or challenge their views. Imagine the future of innovation for higher ed students using e-textbooks. What if students could ask their music history textbook author a question, or click right on a chemistry experiment and watch a video of it happening? The possibilities for exciting and beneficial e-book innovation exist for higher ed students and beyond. So while print still exists and is in demand, exciting global possibilities in e-book innovations are within reach.