Regular Joe

Unfiltered (and totally caffeinated)

CA ditches bound books for their digital counterparts…hell freezes over.

Honestly?  I’m shocked.  I think this is fantastic, revolutionary, crazy, awesome…and sad.  But I didn’t see it happening this soon.  You can read about textbooks anywhere to find out how ridiculous the authoring process and business really is (this is one of my favorite articles “Textbook Example of What’s Wrong with Education“).

I think it’s great because digital textbooks are the future (I might have thought further in the future).  With ebook technology coming from major consumer electronic manufacturers at an increasing rate (just check out the Kindle DX) and the ability to store the books and ‘mark them up’ for extended periods of time is growing ever closer. Plus, they are cheap (no printing costs, immediate delivery, etc).  And Gov. Schwarzenegger likes them, “The governor of California wants state students to ditch bulky books in favour of up-to-the-minute digital texts on the internet” (DailyMail online).

What saddens and worries me though, is that this revolutionary change is brought on by a vast budget crisis.  According to the DailyMail article the CA State textbook budget is over 200 million a year.  This plan is to simply slash that and take advantage of the text books available at sites like

But in most cases you have to pay for quality, so there will still be an expense.  This is not to mention that students will HAVE to have some device (computer, ebook reading, netbook, ipod, or otherwise) to access the material.  This will cost MUCH more than the original textbook budget allocation (as these devices are 4-5 X the cost of a textbook, or more).

Sure there is some overlap with 1-1 computer policies (which CA has not opted for) so other states like Maine would be easily transitioned down the same road as California.  But the education budget is hurting in ALL ASPECTS in the golden state, which means less computers, fewer devices and MORE burden on students and their families to ensure that their students have the tools they need to do their school work.

Before students needed just a backpack to carry them home and a little more initiative just to open the books.  No need for a backpack anymore, but they will need something much more sophisticated just to crack the cover.

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Filed under: books, Education, random thoughts

One Response

  1. Joe says:

    I also really like Wowio.com. They are one of the first free book sites I found way back when they were a startup. They’ve since offered books at charge, but it’s a cool deal anyway. They offset prices by getting corporations (like Verizon) to cover the cost to publisher and take a cut. Interesting model and a great selection on the site.

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