Equity and Digital Reading

We presented at the Ontario Library Association (OLA) Superconference today. Our topic was ereaders in education. This is something we have been talking about and engaging learners in for almost two years now. In these learning conversations we talk about barriers to adoption, advantages of networked text, and a host of other issues surrounding the future of reading. Leo Babauta has a good interview with Seth Godin around the revolution currently underway and the future of books, publishing and blogging here.

It has always been our premise that the nature of reading has remained unchanged since the very beginning. It has always been about making meaning from text. This is the same if you’re reading a cave drawing or a novel on a Kindle.

So this past December saw a huge spike in the sales of ereaders and tablets. Kindles, Nooks, Kobos, iPads, even Sony ereaders saw double digit growth in ownership. One of the most engaging discussion points that came out of today’s presentation was the idea of equity. We had a nice diverse audience from school and municipal librarians, publishers, technicians, and even authors. Equity went way beyond just superficial cost issues. Getting different stakeholders to share their perspectives was fascinating to watch.

It’s not the first time we’ve been here. We are replaying this issue now for the third time this century. First we watched the music industry battle this out. That didn’t end well for them. We’ve seen the film and movie industry try the same thing recently. Same result. Now we have publishers holding on to an outdated model in changing times. Here is a real opportunity to be the “good guy”. The music and movie industry botched this one, big time. I wonder if history will go for the three-peat?

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