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Tetrad for E-Books

July 1, 2010

Michael Hart of the Gutenberg Project was the first to envision the e-book and produce it at no cost to the user. Currently, Project Gutenberg offers over 32,000 free e-books for the PC, iPad, Kindle, Sony Reader, iPhone, Android, and other portable devices.

The graph on the left shows the rapid increase of e-book publications between the years 2002 and 2008. This period corresponds with the increase in the number of e-readers, which is a reflection of a technology that has emerged.

E-books enhances the reading experience of user because of the reader’s lightweight, large memory capacity, readability in low light or in the dark, text-to-speech software support, its low cost when compared to printed equivalents, and its environmental friendliness.

E-books obsoletes the printed text medium as it replaces large numbers of digital equivalents of printed books, journals, magazines, newspapers, and other material with a handheld device. The device is small enough to fit in a woman’s purse or placed in a three-ring binder. Shown on the right is Sony’s e-reader.

E-books retrieve the early version of the notebook where students used chalk on a writing slate. It brings backs the experience of students of the 1800s when slate was cheaper than paper. The introduction of the e-book and an associated e-reader retrieved the memories and efficiencies of the past in a way that is new, freeing, and invigorating. On a recent visit to a South Asian country, I was not surprised to find writing slates in active use. One student proudly displayed two writing slates, one for English and the other for Math both had finely printed text that was no larger than 14 points. Such a memory recall is only meaningful to the generation who would appreciate the chalk and writing slate of yesteryear.

E-books reverse into a web of hyperlinked material. Publishers may provide future e-readers with the titles, authors, and summaries of every possible genre known. The purchase of an e-book will provide countless links to supplemental material for immediate purchase or with access to other networked readers who could share the text for a specific period. A whole class of students could purchase all the required textbooks and have them reside on multiple readers networked for mutual access for the duration of a specific course.

If Pablo Picasso’s saying, “everything you can imagine is real” is verifiably true, then nothing hinders one from imagining the establishment of a society that thrives on people’s mutual interconnectedness and with technology since the reality of today’s tomorrow is only exceeded by the virtual reality of tomorrow’s today.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Jane DeWitt permalink
    July 2, 2010 7:34 pm

    Nicely composed blog entry I had not even thought of the slate and chalk as something being obsolesced. I used the example of family sories that were once passed down from elders of the clan, but did not rela the experience to the school environment in tha sense.

    I have hope that the idea of e-books will take off and schools will purchase readers as opposed to hard cover text books in the future.

  2. Jane DeWitt permalink
    July 2, 2010 7:40 pm


    Nicely composed blog entry. I had not even thought of ebooks obsolescing the blackboard slate and chalk in the educational setting, but so true. I looked at ebooks as altering the manner in which elders in the clan were able to pass down stories to younger members. This emerging technology is one in which I would like to see incorporated quickly in the academic environemnt. I am hopeful that schools will begin to purchase e-readers and forego the traditional hard cover text books.

    • edutechtalks permalink*
      July 4, 2010 12:34 pm


      Thanks for your comments.

      I, too, think e-books will continue to present many advantages in the field of education. For those of us who spent decades handling physical books and printed material, it may take somewhat longer to get used to a new, exclusive electronic medium regardless of the metaphoric proximity to the classic textbook.


  3. Charlotte Vaughn permalink
    July 3, 2010 9:07 pm

    David and Jane,

    I view e-books as a beneficial tool or resource in the classroom, but do you think it should replace all text books and books in a classroom setting? What about the joy of holding a book, flipping through the pages, exploring the pictures and making predictions. I believe in the advantages and benefits of technology, and am enthusiastic about the thought of utilizing e-books in my classroom, but should they replace books?

    Good websites on this issue are listed below.

    • edutechtalks permalink*
      July 4, 2010 12:52 pm


      I think replacing e-books with their printed counterparts is a matter of degree. Initially, not all books will be available in the electronic medium. Publishers are vying for the market that would best meet and exceed their financial overheads.

      Having spent most of my life reading from printed material, I find it hard, as you do, to “feel” for the e-book as I would a printed one. Another characteristic of traditional textbooks that I miss in e-books the use of spatial markers as memory guides. I distinctly recall a particular pencil mark on the top left corner of a classic textbook on “Electronic Circuits” by Millman and Halkias. Whenever I needed to, I would quickly thumb through the textbook and find that page. I am sure e-readers will soon include that metaphor if they have not already done so.

      While I agree that reading an e-book is not the same as “holding a book, flipping through the pages,” required, out-of-print, and rare texts in the electronic medium may be as appealing as it would be valuable.

      Just thinking!


  4. Cynthia Harrison permalink
    July 5, 2010 2:20 am

    David and Team B,

    I am enjoying this assignment immensely, even though I am a bit late on commenting. I read through the thread and I agree with David about the hesitancy of adopting the e-book for all media. I know that J.K. Rowling says she will not allow any of the Harry Potter book series to be placed into e-books. I wonder if she will ever change her mind, or if they will eventually become obsolete because the e-book will eventually be the preferred choice of print?


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