Ebook Readers Reach Out to the School Classroom

There has been much talk in the publishing world about the evolution of electronic book readers and what impact they will ultimately have on the print media in general. It remains to be seen if these Ebook readers will do for print media, book publishers and online retailers, what the Ipod has done for the music industry and online retail downloading. Perhaps the key to the success of these electronic readers lies in a pilot programme in Caritas Girls College, in Dublin, Ireland.

Eighteen first year secondary students have become the first ever school pupils in the world to be issued with Ebook readers to replace their entire curriculum of academic books. Each Ebook reader is loaded with the Irish Department of Education’s First Year Secondary School textbooks, together with a package of fifty classic novels of literature.

The Ebook readers can also replace standard copybook jotters and could see all pupils one day travelling to school with just their Ebook devices and their lunches!

The pilot programme has been launched by Gill & Macmillan Publisher’s educational wing. According to Peter Thew, sales and marketing director at Gill and Macmillan, “Although we believe that the widespread adoption of e-readers is some time off, this project allows us to determine how well they work in the classroom, how the pupils interact with them and to examine their potential.”

The iliad Ebook reader was developed by iRex Technologies and retails at around €600. It would be interesting to see what kind of true cost savings this technology would have for parents of school-going children and how much a scheme like this in all Irish schools could be properly subsidised by the Department of Education.

This pilot programme may ultimately provide the true gateway through which Ebook reader technology may make its way into our everyday lives. We may see more and more academic publishers making expensive books available exclusively through this medium alone, particularly considering the general economic downturn throughout the world.

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