The following is part one of a five part excerpt from Jason Merkoski's Burning the Page: The eBook revolution and the future of reading.
Jenny Pesina's insight:
Fascinating story in 5 parts. Expert:
"To make a PDF into a reflowable ebook, publishers usually use a conversion house. Such companies, in turn, use a combination of software and workers overseas. Many of the conversion houses use people in India or China, or sometimes more exotic places like Sierra Leone or Madagascar or the Philippines. They often work in a large warehouse or an old factory, with cubicles running from one end of the factory to the other on multiple floors.
Elbow to elbow, the workers stare at words on the screen all day, reading ebooks. They remove page numbers, reformat the ebooks to make them reflowable, and skim through them afterward to make sure no paragraphs or illustrations from the originals were lost during the process.
But not all books are in PDF format; some only exist in print. More brutal methods are often needed to digitize such books. As part of my job, I watched as workers destroyed print books to turn them into ebooks. Pages had to be removed from books so they could be scanned and digitized. As a book lover, I was horrified. To remove the pages of the book, workers would hack the spines off with knives like they were whacking their way through the jungle with machetes. Once their content was scanned, those pages would be tossed into a Dumpster at the end of every shift..."
"Following an introduction at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, McGraw-Hill Ryerson Higher Education is launching a suite of adaptive learning products for Canadian higher education students that use advanced technological engines to improve learning and student performance. The new “LearnSmart Advantage” suite takes adaptive learning—one of the biggest trends in education in 2012—beyond the realm of course study tools by using adaptive technology to provide more dynamic, personalized learning experiences across new aspects of the student learning experience. Included in the suite is SmartBook™, the world’s first-ever adaptive e-book, which revolutionizes reading by focusing students’ attention on the content that is most critical to their learning."
"Gutenberg Technology, a French company, has launched a new piece of software that promises to help publishers accelerate their e-textbook creation process. It’s expensive to use (read more about the costs) but allows publishers to create hundreds of e-textbooks a month for multiple platforms and update them easily and remotely. (Read more about the details here.)
The problem is, students don’t like e-textbooks yet. In several states, schools have engaged in pilots and surveyed students about how they liked the less expensive, lighter product. The results haven’t been encouraging for the publishing industry.
Still, the industry presses ahead. Major educational publishers like Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Macmillan are gearing up for the coming changes. Outside investors are spending big bucks trying to get into this market.
How much will publishers spend, though, to create the products students don’t yet want but will someday?"
"It's difficult to know for certain how much time students spend with their traditional, paper textbooks, but ebooks have opened the door to new tracking capabilities for educators. Three universities — Texas A&M, Rasmussen College, and Villanova University — have teamed with CourseSmart to pilot a program that monitors students as they read through digital textbooks. Professors will be able to dive into specific details of progress: the amount of time students have spent reading, number of pages completed, and even a tally of notes / highlights will all be collected. From there, an "engagement" score could be reached for each student.
As you might expect, the program has been met with a number of privacy concerns. Those involved are quick to point out that students will have the choice of opting out, however. “We do understand the Big Brother aspects of it," said CourseSmart's chief executive Sean Devine in an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education. Rather, supporters champion the program as a way to better understand whether course materials are having a positive effect..."
Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto, is finished, and you can now find in print, ebook, and online … at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and of course at O’Reilly. (Coming soon: iBooks and Kobo and others).
Behind the Book
The “idea” of this book was to explore “the idea of a book.” We wanted to get away from the abstract or philosophical, and make a practical guide for the publishing world — for someone just starting a publishing enterprise today, for people in the business already, and for authors and self-publishers who want to think beyond “upload my book to Kindle.”
We pulled contributions from people who are actively working to shape the future of books, and have (we think) a cracker of a collection.
More than a collection of writing, though, the pitch to O’Reilly hinged on the idea of building the book on PressBooks (online book-making software I was and am still building), and outputting an ebook, a print book and an online version — all from that single source in PressBooks. That spiced things up, since PressBooks was in such an early phase at the time, so we’ve been building and fixing software while trying to make a book at the same time. It’s been great..."
"The British Library's remarkable 'eBook Treasures' series allows users to explore some of the British Library's most treasured manuscripts in detail, together with text, video and audio interpretation. Developed with Armadillo Systems, our eBook Treasures are viewable in full-screen high-definition, with realistic page-turning capabilities and, once downloaded, can be read offline. They can be read on the iPad, iPhone (3GS and 4) and iPod Touch (3rd and 4th generations). Additionally the series is now available as a Windows 8 app. It can be found in the Windows Store, under Books and Reference."
Getting a book published is not an easy task. Apart from the enormous task of getting a publisher to agree to publish your book, there are other details to worry about. These details are mostly relevant to the visuals of the book.
Jenny Pesina's insight:
"Papyrus Editor is a free to use web service that lets its users create eBooks. You start by creating an account on the website. The next step is to select a theme / template from the given options, as shown in the image above. You can select your theme and have the eBook creation interface loaded up.
A user friendly web service.Lets you create eBooks online.Offers various themes and templates.Exports eBook to PDF, Mobi, and ePub file formats.Similar tools: Readlists, Moglue and Wikipedia Book Creator."
"With the advance of mobile technology into our classrooms some new models of instruction have being created with a particular focus on the digital output. More and more schools are embracing hand-held devices such as iPads as learning and teaching tools.One of the pluses of this new technology is that it empowered educators with the apps necessary to create engaging learning materials and a s a result, we have now a wide variety of eTextbooks available to students. But have you ever wondered how students use these materials ? The infographic below sheds some light on the use of eTextbooks and how students are using them..."
"Teachers can track the time spent reading e-textbooks and see the notes or highlights made by students through the new service offered by CourseSmart Analytics. Three U.S. universities and colleges have signed on to test the e-textbook service before it becomes widely available in 2013 — a way to identify students who need help and gauge the e-textbooks that hold student interest.
“With the CourseSmart dashboard, professors will be better able to fine-tune lesson plans, critique student performance, and even tailor suggestions for specific students on how to study more effectively to help them stay on track and stay in school,” said Ellen Wagner, executive director at the Cooperative for Educational Technology (WCET).
Such a service represents the latest possibility for using digital learning to get better feedback on how well students are doing at all times — even when those students are studying on their own without teachers or parents. The information could allow professors and teachers to fine-tune lesson plans and focus efforts on struggling students..."
When iBooks Author, Apple’s multimedia e-book authoring tool, was unveiled in January, it was hailed for how easy it is to use and its ability to create rich, multimedia, and interactive educational content.
Via John Rudkin
E-textbooks are nothing new, neither are digital publications that you can actually update. Places like Academic Pub, Kno, and CourseSmart (amongst many others) all offer options but the term flexbooks is completely new. I kinda like it.
Assistant Professor Brian Lindshield says the flexbooks are designed to be read online and easy to update. They’re highly visual, have links to multimedia, animations, and are regularly updated with current events. It’s like Wikipedia only without all the questionable information!
Best of all, Professor Lindshield’s flexbook is free to students and is currently being used at a human nutrition course at Merrimack College in Massachusetts.
What was the impetus for flexbooks? Lindshield says he polled his students after attempting to use an electronic textbook for a class. The students said they would have loved the ability to easily print, share, and use the content in a more flexbile manner. I could see pretty much every classroom on the planet having similar requests. So don’t be surprised if you see flexbooks and e-textbooks continue their slow climb to prominence in classrooms."