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Using Electronic Books in Schools

E-books have hit a significant milestone. In each of the last three months, Amazon reports that sales of books for Kindle have outpaced the sale of hardcover books, and that growth is only accelerating.

In a statement, Amazon says that, “over the past three months, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 143 Kindle books. Over the past month, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 180 Kindle books.”  Six months later, the shift has apparently become the norm.

While part of that shift has to do with reading trends in general — Amazon notes that e-book sales grew 163 percent in the month of May and 207 percent year-to-date through May — Kindle book sales (and other devices like Barnes & Noble’s Nook) has been aided in recent months by price cuts getting e-readers into the hands of more consumers. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says that “the growth rate of Kindle device unit sales has tripled since we lowered the price from $259 to $189.”

Those price reductions, of course, have been triggered in large part by new competition in the form of iPad. As much as anything else, Amazon is once again reminding us that Kindle is far from dead in the wake of Apple’s tablet, although with Kindle now offering apps for Windows, Mac, and most mobile operating systems, its long-term success may ultimately be much more dependent on its e-book store across platforms as opposed to physical device sales.

Electronic books offer schools several advantages.  First, students will not have to lug heavy textbooks around.  A large number of books can be stored on an electronic book.  The price of these electronic books continues to fall while the price of a written book continues to rise.  Schools will be able to save substantial funds by using electronic books.  New additions to e-books can immediately be downloaded to class sets negating the need to purchase updates.

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