I gave my colleagues at The Episcopal Academy a survey about print and electronic teaching material. A few questions pertaining to their personal reading and teaching preferences were thrown in too. I wanted to see how they themselves were reading, how they were teaching and how they thought their practices might change in the future because of changes in reading technology.
Schools are conservative institutions -- conservators, in fact, of our culture. Private schools are more conservative than public schools, and Episcopal is more conservative than many private schools. My colleagues displayed their conservation instincts well in their responses to the question below:
Twenty years may seem like a long time in the world of technology, but if you read Books in the Digital Age by John B. Thompson, you will be most impressed by the disasters the publishing industry suffered almost twenty years ago, in the early '90s, when publishers tried to peddle books on CD. The technology was there but no one wanted to buy it. That disaster stifled e-book development until the advent of the Kindle, twenty years later. It took that long for e-books to improve enough to compete with printed books.
Although no one knows for sure, it is a pretty good bet that over ten million but under fifty million e-books have been sold in just the past few years. And the pace is picking up, not leveling off. Nonetheless, owners of iPads and Kindles are still buying print books too. (Wall Street Journal, 4.30/2010, "Buyers of E-Books Still Like Print Too, Survey Shows") A huge change has already occurred, but how much farther will it go?
According to my survey, our faculty are pretty bi-technological. They mostly read their newspapers online and most develop their own electronic teaching material and store it for future use. They often collaborate with colleagues to develop this material. A third of them read e-books as well as print. They are comfortable dealing with non-print resources and believe that reading will soon move away from print.
But check out their own personal preferences below:
Be aware, however, that we are dealing with an unusual demographic at The Academy. Most of us read more than one book a year, which puts us in a tiny minority. If e-books can change that at all, well ... it would be nice for us readers to have more company. The life of the mind is grossly undervalued.
The complete results are available to you online by clicking here.