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Future of eBooks

Publishing books has been one of the most effective means of spreading a consistent message to a wide audience for many centuries.  However, due to the time and expense of printing a long message to a wide audience, the tools have been mostly limited to messages who have either captured the interest of an entity that has some political clout or has some presumed entertainment potential.  Another way of saying this is that books that get published either support a politically and economically acceptable position or has great potential of generating sales.

However, it is obvious that the Internet and electronic media have become a venue for a third market of media.  Digital media, due to the relatively low cost of production, can support any person or group that has an important message to deliver.  The spread of such messages is entirely dependent on whether it uses such media effectively and if there is an audience interested in that message.  Protest, like what has been taking place in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and elsewhere, will continue to foment via digital media.

Good books, too, will circumvent traditional publishing systems and find audiences through digital media and devices.  Some of these eBooks will become incredibly well-produced multimedia experiences, blurring the divisions between print, TV, and cinema.  None of this should be a surprise to anyone who has paid attention to social media and society for the past 2 decades.

I have my doubts whether Apple, the iPad, iPhone, or the iTunes store will prove to be the most important gatekeeper/cash register for delivering the most important eBooks and messages of our time, but the Apple platform is certain to be one that is convenient for many who wish to cash in quickly and easily with their mass audience messages.  It works already, has a wide audience/appeal, and does not require a huge hurdle for developers and information providers.

From an educational perspective, the use of digital systems to disseminate alternative and politically dissident messages to a wide audience is both encouraging and challenging.  Real learning requires not only dissent and conflict, but must pursue that which is unknown or in contradiction to what is known and understood.  As educators, we are, ultimately, always trying to resolve what is as yet problematic.

When I saw this particular preview, I was immediately fascinated.  Not only by the professional media presentation, but by the sensitivity of the subject matter.  I am not certain that I find it acceptable that Apple takes a 30% share of what I am supposed to pay for the eBook in the iTunes store, but apparently its authors and developers have been willing to accept Apple’s terms for the privilege of disseminating their work through Apple’s platform.  In this regard, I think it is no stretch to say that education, particularly the education that is part and parcel of dissent, is happening today in a very new way.  It’s a Brave New World.  Are you ready to live in it?

Operation Ajax from Operation Ajax on Vimeo.

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