As part of the course requirements for the Masters in Communications and Technology Program at the University of Alberta I took the highly enjoyable course Using and Managing Communication Technology. Fellow student Judith Dyck and I co-wrote a paper on the e-book and publishing. In it, we explored the growing market for e-books, their impact on the ways people read, and information on the technology of the book. The abstract is below, along with a link to a pdf of the paper. If you would like to see some portions of the presentation – link through from the picture below.
We presented this paper at the 13th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association last June in New York. Thanks to Robert Francos for his still pictures and Paul Ermantrout for his video.
The market for e-books is growing exponentially across all publishing markets, including consumer (trade), professional-scientific/technical/medical (STM), education (K-12 and college), and corporate (business to business). This is having an impact on what we think of as a book, how people ‘read’, literacy, academic standards and publishing. In this essay, the definition of a book and an e-book will be explored, along with information on the technology behind the e-book, the standardization of publishing platforms, and trends in print-on-demand and self-publishing. The e-book as a robust example of long tail theory will be illustrated. Throughout the essay, examples will be given of the impact of e-books on communication and the way people perceive information and learning, including applications of the theories of McLuhan and Winston. While not within the scope of the essay itself, a chronology of the emergence of the e-book has been provided in an appendix as an aid to understanding what has been occurring. The essay concludes that the e-book is not just another form of the paper book and is having a profound impact on literacy, learning and access to information. The book is not dead, but the paper book is losing its position of supremacy as a vehicle for organizing and presenting information.