‘e-book revolution’ being held back

Local and regional publishers are holding back the e-book revolution and denying students access to electronic textbooks, one online bookstore has claimed.

Caribbean Shared Educational Resources Service (CSERS) today reported slow progress in its efforts to make textbooks available in electronic format for sale and rental across the region.

Project director Beverly Smith-Hinkson said there were approximately 2,000 e-books available on the online portal and accessible in over 25 Caribbean countries, but only five per cent of that content were the work of local and regional authors.

She said international publishers had digitized most of their books, a lot of which included textbooks used throughout the region.

“They have moved quickly, but I go to Caribbean publishers and I say, ‘may I have your books’ and they say,‘but we don’t have them as digital books as yet’. They may have 300 books but [only] eight digitized, [for example]. And they are in fact holding up this revolution within schools to get textbooks,” Smith-Hinkson told a gathering at the Island Inn hotel this morning where she officially launched the e-bookstore.

CSERS is like an online bookstore that gives students and teachers from nursery to tertiary level, as well as other stakeholders, access to a range of textbooks in a range of subject areas. It is managed by DataLore Inc, of which Smith-Hinkson is the director.   

The project is being undertaken in conjunction with authors, publishers, bookstores and ministries of education in the region.

Once registered on the company’s website, individuals can purchase textbooks, or can rent for six months or a year, and do not require internet connection to use the book afterwards. It also caters to people who are hearing impaired.

However, Smith-Hinkson said the project, which has the endorsement of the ministries of education and other key stakeholders throughout the region, needed more e-books from local and regional authors since many of them were critical to the syllabuses taught in the region.

She said there had been a shift from printed text to e-booksin developing country since 2012, but the Caribbean was “at the back of the line”.

“The Caribbean publishers, believe it or not, have been the slowest on the uptake of this. They have allowed international publishers to come in and see the value of such a project and moved swiftly to ensure that we had their digital assets on the platform. Our goal is to make sure that all Caribbean authors, publishers and other content delivery services use the platform to their benefit where we can deliver the content back to the students in the region,” Smith-Hinkson stressed.

The project director acknowledged that regional publishers were not opposed to the initiative, but they simply did not have their books digitized just yet, with the associated cost being a drawback.

President of the Barbados Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools Vere Parris and Senate President Kerry-Ann Ifill today welcomed the project, describing it as a digital revolution and a step in the right direction for Barbados.

The portal has been in operation here as a pilot for the past two years. 

One Response to ‘e-book revolution’ being held back

  1. John Everatt August 31, 2016 at 8:20 am

    “they simply did not have their books digitized just yet, with the associated cost being a drawback” – This reasoning is suspect because in today’s book printing world the copy must first be in digitized text and formatted before it is printed to paper. This means that the text book is already prepared for electronic distribution with very little additional cost. There has to be another reason for not publishing regional text books digitally.


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