The virtual ink is on the wall
Electronic books are here to stay. Sales of portable e-readers have been brisk. Apple may sell as many as 10 million iPads in 2010, while purchases of readers made by Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Sony should combine to equal that number. Based on figures in a Wired magazine article, e-book sales could easily top half a billion dollars this year. In the second quarter, Amazon sold 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardcovers that went out the door.
Paper books are not going to disappear, but reading off the screen is going to become commonplace on college campuses in the next few years. For those of you who have any doubts, here are a few recent indicators from the Chronicle’s “Wired Campus” blog:
- The library at St. Leo University now contains more electronic books than paper ones. See E-Books Will Make Up Majority of Saint Leo U.’s Library Come Fall.
- The federal government recently awarded major grants to create free electronic textbooks and study barriers to their adoption. See Free Online Textbook Project Gets Federal Money.
- A large academic publisher is offering experimental e-book rental options for hundreds of titles. See U. of Michigan Press Tries Short-Term Rental Option for E-Books.
- Some of you will remember that back in February we wrote about a library licensing a physics e-textbook and offering it for free to students. See North Carolina State U. Gives Students Free Access to Physics Textbook Online.