- Posted on July 3, 2009
- by Alan Blume
The publishing industry needs to take a cue from the music and newspaper industry. My recently purchased Amazon Kindle is a marvel to use. It offers access to 300,000 books, faster, cheaper and more easily than you could get in a traditional model. I can type notes as I’m reading and my Kindle keeps track of these notes. I can change the font size to make it easier to read, search for a book, surf the web or download the latest best seller. All from a small, thin device the size of a modest book (but much thinner). Let’s say I wanted to buy a hard copy best seller which retails at $27.99 at Barnes & Noble. I have a couple of choices. I could drive to the store, pick up a copy and pay a discounted price of perhaps $20.99. I could pay $18.99 if I ordered it on-line (shipping fees might apply). If I paid an annual store membership, my price might only be $16.79. In all cases however, I have to wait to get the publication, or at least take the time to drive to the store to pick it up. The Kindle version of the book costs $9.99 (or less), and you receive it immediately. It takes just a couple of minutes to download from the virtual Kindle store. The cost of a Kindle as of this writing is $359 for the 6” version and the more recently introduced Kindle DX at 9.7” is $489. For an early generation model, it’s extremely impressive, it’s a 3G (connects via wireless almost anywhere without charge), allows you to download books in a minute or two, surf the web and even receive emails with attachments. The day will come in the very near future where traditional paper based books will become an anachronism. Children will receive a Wireless Reading Device (like Kindle) and download all their books to this one small device. Imagine the benefit to schools districts if the costs of books were cut in half, and students always had the most recent versions. The day of the 30 pound backpack will soon disappear in favor of a completely digital approach.
For that matter, perhaps a significant portion of classroom teaching can be conducted more efficiently, and by better qualified teachers by leveraging virtual teaching models. Lesson plans, outlines and homework assignments can be easily downloaded to PCs or Wireless Reading Devices. Subject matter experts and leading authorities can offer lessons via satellite link, prerecorded video or synchronous collaboration platforms. Much of this can be done through cloud computing, meaning there are no school infrastructure requirements (such as server based application software) other than a PC, laptop or Wireless Reading Device on the desk of each student. How far away are we from this? Behavioral change management is often a great challenge to adoption of any sort. But the paradigm shift of the user base has already happened. Our children today are a digital, text messaging, social networking, blogging, MP3 savvy bunch. They are ready to embrace these changes now, it will just take a while for teachers, school administrators and text book publishers to catch up. Is there a winner or loser in the on-line teaching world? Arguably we all win, and the outdated paper based distribution system loses. But that’s a win for us too, because the new model is digital green, the old model is environmentally wasteful. More on the virtual paradigm shift can be found at www.alanblume.com or www.startupselling.com.
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