consumption_challenges _technology

Key technology  issues

  • Changing fast, tablets formats etc
  • Preference for print & not everything is digital
  • Technology for disabled users


Changing fast, tablets formats etc

From: Ebook consumption : CIBER Research briefing Feb2013

With the impending big switch from the use of static to mobile platforms to access the Internet – mobile platforms are forecasted to be the platform of choice by 2013 – big changes in information and reading behaviour are bound to happen

From: JISC TechWatch: Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of Ebooks in Education. November 2012.

[page 26]

It is difficult to predict what will happen in the next five years with ebook readers. It may be that the dedicated ebook reader’s time is limited and it eventually will be superseded by multifunctional devices, such as the iPad.

Currently EPUB would be considered by many organisations and publishers to be the standard format for ebooks. Deriving from HTML, EPUB is designed to allow content to reflow and be optimised regardless of factors such as: the device reading the EPUB format; the size of the device’s screen; or the font size selected by the user. EPUB format also allows for images and the embedding of metadata. As a free and open format, EPUB can also be used by any publisher or ebook vendor. Content in an EPUB file can be protected with Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology, but this does not form part of the specification and is an extra layer on top of the EPUB file. As this extra layer is not part of the specification, different publishers can use different DRM technologies.

[page 24]

In 2010, Apple announced its tablet, the iPad,and it was obvious to many that it would be a suitable device for reading ebooks. At the same time, Apple launched the iBookstore and the iBooks app for reading ebooks purchased from their store. Unlike the Kindle or other dedicated ebook readers, the iPad is a multifunctional device and can be used for much more than just reading ebooks. Various multifunctional devices (such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers) can be used to read ebooks, if these devices are set up with ebook applications

[page 53]
The ebook landscape is an evolving model with rapid changes in technologies and formats in recent years; however, it is still early days compared to other media such as music and films. The surge in interest in ebooks and ebook readers may have caught many Higher and Further Education institutions by surprise. They may not yet be in position to exploit to the full the potential that the format can bring to education.

Preference for print & not everything is digital

From: JISC TechWatch: Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of Ebooks in Education. November 2012.
[page 43]
Some users may express a preference for printed books, ignoring some of the advantages offered by ebooks. As the JISC National E-books Observatory Project (JISC Collections, 2009) found from its focus group research, in many cases the printed book is still the preferred format and this preference predominates for several reasons: the physicality of the printed book; a perception that a printed book facilitates greater concentration; belief that it is easier when reading to scan a printed book; and the expectation that a printed page is easier to annotate, highlight, and make notes from. In most cases, these reasons arise as a result of people thinking that using ebooks is about making a choice not to use a printed book.

Technology for disabled user

From: JISC TechWatch: Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of Ebooks in Education. November 2012.
[page 34]
Managers within institutions should be aware of the need to consider the position of staff and students with disabilities. “Accessibility is important for all partners. For the JISC partners it influences an institution’s exposure under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)” (JISC TechDis, 2010a, p.1) . Early adopters are already discovering that ebooks can be a source of added support for students with print impairments. According to JISC TechDis (2010a, p.1), the situation where lamentably low numbers of print books are available in alternative ebook formats (about 5%) is undergoing a sea change with the advent of ebooks. While these alternative formats are still in need of development to extend their accessibility to readers with print impairments, they are already improving matters considerably. The availability of a work in ebook form tends to empower many readers with print impairments, so these learners are less likely to request assistance in either large-print or personal form. This is a welcome development for learner independence as well as in terms of reduced demand on institutional support services. It is important therefore to ensure that institutional procurement policies and planning in respect of ebooks and ebook platforms take proper account of the requirements of readers with print impairments. Consideration should be given to the capabilities of different systems and how well those systems can serve the needs of visually impaired readers. For example, in the matter of magnification (a key functionality for many) some e-readers support magnification greater than font size 30, whereas others fail to meet this basic requirement of some learners with print impairments.