An encounter with an e-book reader

Last week I was on the train to London (to attend a conference at the University of London).  As I was looking around for a seat (no chance, of course!), I saw, as usual, mobile phones and iPods everywhere. Then I saw one person glued to his Sony e-book reader. The device has a brown leather case, so if I hadn’t seen one before I wouldn’t have known what it was. I saw a couple more e-book readers on the tube later on.

I think it won’t be too long before e-book readers claim a space in our jackets, handbags, rucksacks etc.

I had my own experience with an e-book reader last night. I managed to read a 65 page document (all of it!) on a Sony e-book reader. I didn’t feel much of a difference between reading the text on paper (except that I saved 65 pages of printing paper)!

E-book readers have a lot to contribute to distance and mobile learners; and their access to learning and reference material. The Duckling project (one of BDRA’s animals) has several trials going on with e-book readers for distance learning – so we’ll have a lot to report in the coming months on this. Watch this space!

E-book readers will become more popular with the average reader (I mean those who are not the ‘early adopter technophile’ type), as the manufacturers of e-book readers improve the technology, according to an article in the Economist (‘Well read’, Feb 14th 2009. pp. 73 – 74). With devices that can be connected to the internet wirelessly, and with dedicated book / paper downloading services (similar to Apple’s iTunes) becoming available, we’ll be looking at distance and mobile learners reaping the beneficial effects of this new mobile device. We’ll be looking at the ‘iPod moment’ of the text.

Palitha Edirisingha (BDRA, 19th Feb 2009)

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