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Textbook Alternatives at Drake: e-readers

The purpose of this site is to inform Drake instructors on various alternatives to "traditional" textbooks

About e-readers

E-readers are portable, low-power, high-resolution devices specifically designed to display digital versions of written material from books, magazines, newspapers, and other printed sources.

The marketplace for e-reading devices is a changing one. Though there were readers prior to the Kindle, that particular device from Amazon really caught the attention of the public.

Some e-readers also provide access to electronic documents like blogs, websites, news feeds, and the like. In many cases, devices with other primary functions—such as netbooks and cell phones— are pressed into service as e-readers.

As used here, the term “e-reader” refers to devices designed specifically for presenting text—including the Amazon Kindle, Sony’s Reader series, and the Nook by Barnes & Noble—and multiuse devices like the eDGe e-book reader by enTourage, the QUE proReader from Plastic Logic, and the iPad from Apple, which were designed with the ereader market in mind. Most e-readers offer black-and-white resizable text presented on so-called e-ink rather than an LCD screen, and they allow users to store a library of titles in a single device, make annotations, highlight text, and “dog-ear” pages.

What are the implications for teaching and learning?

The e-reader ushers in new models of content acquisition that complement the traditional pattern of text purchase and reuse. Because e-readers could open the door to more flexible content aggregation, prompt information updates, and the inclusion of articles not published through traditional channels, they present the opportunity for highly customizable course materials.

Many e-readers are products of companies in the business of selling or licensing books, and the lower costs of producing and distributing e-texts might drive wider distribution. The convergence of e-readers with more
general-use devices suggests course materials will increasingly include features such as pronunciation glossaries, animated flashcards, collaborative annotation, and embedded videos.

Tablet-style readers could signal a change in classroom interaction as an instructor, communicating with a classroom full of students equipped with e-readers, selects interactive maps, charts, and graphs from the web to illustrate lecture points.

SOURCE: excerpted from "7 Things You Should Know About eReaders" - licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.   Download the full document at

EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit membership association created to support those who lead, manage, and use information technology to benefit higher education. A comprehensive range of resources and activities is available to all EDUCAUSE members. The association’s strategic directions include focus in four areas: Teaching and Learning; Managing the Enterprise; E-Research and E-Scholarship; and the Evolving Role of IT and Leadership. For more information, visit