Considering the growing popularity of book-club style eBook store CafeScribe with US universities, and its latest announcement of a self-publishing platform for tutors is it time for UK universities to move away from the physical book, towards the ‘eTextbook’?
More than 850 American institutions are signed up to CafeScribe, owned by Follett Corporation, which allows students and staff to purchase eTextbooks (for cheaper than a physical book), collate their notes and annotations online via the ‘MyScribe reader’ and share them amongst their peers. It’s been called the ‘facebook for brainiacs’ and successfully combines the academic with the social to entice the digital generation.
Most, if not all, UK university libraries already store a lot of their publications in eBook format for students to access for free. However there is no platform for shared note making and certainly none for tutors to self-publish their work.
The self-publication platform means that tutors are able to tailor books to exactly what is needed for their course, rather than students having to sift through chapters upon chapters of unrelated information. However, if an idea like this were to launch in the UK it would have to go one step further than CafeScribe. The application isn’t available on eReaders and on the site’s facebook page this seems to be a complaint from most users. T
here is a lot of call for a MyScribe iPad app to be developed by CafeScribe in the US. But if a similar idea was launched in the UK universities could take control, with different departments launching individual apps to allow for more succinct research. These apps could even go on to replacing the Blackboard suites that most universities use so that all communication, both academic and social can be tracked in one place on a portable device.