Can e-Books Revive the Lost Art of Reading?

The Teacher & The Student

Every teacher, in the not too distant future, will be forced by the market forces to embrace e-Books. The options are clear indeed: practice or perish. There is no middle ground in which to take cover.
It is not what the teacher likes, but what the students want and demand vehemently. Indeed students are at the threshold of discovering the treasure of reading and learning through e-Books. The student community are more adept to embracing e-Books by a very large margin compared to teachers. It is safe to claim that e-Books will take the credit for restoring the lost art of reading among the netizens.

Poor Reading Skills: Is the Internet to Blame?
Ability to read effectively is an important prerequisite for learners. Yet many face serious hurdles in mastering this critical skill. In fact, the problem is more alarming among students when it boils down to reading text books and academic papers. I take liberty in labeling this phenomenon the lost art of reading.
It is customary to place the blame for the sorry state of reading skills on the advent of Internet. Internet is alleged to encourage quick, careless and shallow reading. The web takes the blame for distracting the readers’ mind through links, video clips, photographs and pop-ups which can dilute comprehension and retention.
Is it likely that the Internet which often takes the blame for the lost art of reading, is poised to revive reading skills through-Books?

The e-Book Era
What started as a fad through launch of e-Books has come a long way to take the world by storm. In May 2011, reported that after only 4 years of selling e-Books, it is now selling more e-Books than printed books. After being in continuous print since 1768, Britannica Encyclopedia announced in 2012 that it will end publication of printed editions and move to digital online version. It is highly likely, that Libraries around the world are acquiring a larger proportion of e-Books compared to paper books.
Strangely, much of the spectacular growth of e-Books was witnessed under the PC (desk-based and notebook) era. Gartner research shows that PC’s coveted place is being fast replaced by devices like tablets and smart phones in the last 2-3 years. With the continued growth in the shipment of devices, it is fair to expect the student community to embrace tablets and smartphones in lieu of PC or notebooks. Moreover, the devices are becoming increasingly versatile and more student-friendly due to its unique benifits.

Why e-Books will prevail?
e-Books hold distinct advantages over paper books. They provide ability to highlight passages, look for the most highlighted passages by other readers, create and retrieve archived notes, easy search feature, definition display function, as well as ability to Tweet or Facebook passages. In addition, some e-Books allow interaction, 3D imaging, flexibility to embed audio and video clips and updates. In contrast paper books are bulky and heavy, which is one of the prime reasons for students not carrying it to schools/colleges. They are more expensive compared to e-Books. Above all, e-Books score very high in term of saving the environment. These factors enhance the reading and learning experience for students.

Those in the teaching profession for sufficiently long time remember the slow and painful process of moving from blackboard to overhead projector and then to PowerPoint. Some teachers vehemently swore that they will not change. Unfortunately change overtook them. The same fate awaits teachers who now refuse to embrace e-Books.
e-Books of the future, especially educational ones, will likely be vastly different from what we use today. The scope is enormous going by the advances in Information and Communications Technology.

The Winner
The outcome for the education sector is enormous. For the teachers, it gives them greater control over how they wish to teach. For learners, it will restore the lost art of learning and bring enormous learning benefits. This is also bound to change the structure and outlook of our libraries. Overall, everyone wins!


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