iPod for books Kindles excitement

Article in today’s Age regarding the introduction of the e-book reader Kindle into Australia.

iPod for books Kindles excitement

October 9, 2009

IT’S the iPod for book lovers. The Australian publishing industry was abuzz yesterday over the announcement that Amazon.com’s foray into the world of electronic readers, the Kindle, is coming to Australia.

The electronic reader, Amazon’s biggest-selling product ever, has previously been available only to US consumers. A new version that can download books, newspapers and periodicals wirelessly in more than 100 countries will begin shipping this month.

Kindle is a reading device that uses the same technology as 3G phones.

About 200,000 books will be available for Australian customers to download through the device from October 19.

People will be able to read newspapers and periodicals from around the world, such as The New York Times, and Britain’s Daily Telegraph. The Kindle will sell for $US279 ($A314). Sony’s e-reader model begins at about $100 cheaper.

Amazon’s vice-president of Kindle, Steve Kessel, was on the campaign trail yesterday and was adamant that Kindle will run seamlessly on Australia’s mobile network.

”The 3G wireless connection means you can be reading a book less than 60 seconds after you order it,” Mr Kessel said.

Now screening: a digital book for you

In an ironic twist, Saturday’s Age published two stories about e-books. One by author Carmel Bird (see previous post) who states that the intimacy of turning the pages of a book can never be replaced. The second by Jane Sullivan explains how readers of The Age can access a new and exclusive digital story:

Now screening: a digital book for you


October 3, 2009

“NOBODY is going to sit down and read a book on a twitchy little screen,” US writer Annie Proulx said in 1994. “Ever.”

What a difference 15 years make. Today, millions read books on a variety of “twitchy little screens”: laptops, e-books, iPods or iPhones. And from October 12, Age readers will be able to read a serialised story on their mobile phones.

In the tradition of Charles Dickens, who launched his novels in serial form, Melbourne writer Marieke Hardy has created a 20-episode story, to be sent out to mobiles over four weeks.

”It will be quite riveting,” promises The Age’seditor-in-chief, Paul Ramadge. “Marieke is a wonderfully talented and immediately engaging writer.” The idea is to test the story’s reception, get reader feedback and develop the potential to talk to Age readers “in multiple ways”.

It’s probable that this is Australia’s first sizeable fiction written for the mobile phone. But in Japan, millions of readers are devouring novels on their phones, often when commuting to work or school. They download the novels – usually racy romances – and read them in 70-word instalments.

As many as 86 per cent of high school girls read these phone stories, and the novels subsequently turned into print form have raced to the top of bestseller lists.

In other countries, alternatives to the traditional book are catching on more slowly. But Nick Cave wrote the first chapter of his novel, The Death of Bunny Munro, on his iPhone, and the book is available as an iPhone application.

Hundreds of other titles are being downloaded on to e-book readers such as Kindle or Echo Reader, or smartphones such as iPhone or iPod touch, either free or for a fraction of the price of a print book.

Melbourne mobile media theorist Paul Green does not see these alternatives taking over from print. “The novel is going to be pretty awkward to read on the small screen,” he says. “But there will be a place for the audio book, and a trend towards reading and writing short books with short chapters on these devices, as their screens get bigger.”

Sydney writer Richard Watson, author of Future Files, thinks the publishing world is about to undergo a seismic shock. Books as we know them will exist beside a host of new alternatives.

The creation of a book may not include an agent or a publisher: instead, authors will self-publish using software and online services such as Blurb, and search out niche markets. As well as downloading books, readers will print them through automated publishing machines, or buy e-books in 99-cent instalments.

It’s enough to make you want to get away from it all and curl up with a book.

Details of how to register for The Age mobile phone story will be announced next week.

It will be interesting to gauge the response to the digital story.

The intimacy of turning pages

This lovely article by author Carmel Bird appeared in Saturday’s Age:

Intimacy of turning pages


October 3, 2009

IN A photograph of the Obama family at home, taken by Annie Leibovitz in October 2004, surrounded by images of Abraham Lincoln and Muhammad Ali, there lies, all alone on a clear surface, front and centre, a slightly dog-eared copy of Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. It’s a cosy, informal family portrait, suggesting maybe that just before it was shot one of the parents was reading the storybook to the little girls. The book, flat on the table, draws the eye, and suggests that the photographer has interrupted an intimate and blissful moment, a moment familiar to many parents and teachers.

I treasure memories of lying in my father’s arms while he read from a green-covered volume of The Wind in the Willows, a book that gradually fell to pieces from loving over-use. The books I read to my daughter have a glow and resonance in my mind and heart. Some are still in either my possession or hers, but sometimes I think of one, and if it is lost, if it is out of print, I rush to find a second-hand copy. These replacements have a special quality of their own; they are part of a treasury of reclaimed and revisited moments of intimate bliss.

I recently got a replacement copy of a picture book called Miss Jaster’s Gardenby N.M. Bodecker. This is a story about a hedgehog that becomes part of the garden to the extent that flowers grow in his prickles. A rather poignant thing about the book I got is the inscription in handwriting — “To Grayson from his loving Aunt Jeni and Uncle Brett, for Christmas 2003”. But then maybe our old copy has wound up on someone else’s nursery bookshelf. I hope so.

On the day I received Miss Jaster’s Garden in the mail, I was writing a speech to give at the launch of Glenda Millard’s gorgeous new picture book, Isabella’s Garden. And I was listening to the radio. There I heard someone speaking about the coming disappearance of books as paper objects. They will be replaced by electronic devices of various marvellous kinds. This assertion seems to be quite widespread, but was strangely at odds with my pleasure in the two picture books on my desk.

In lots of ways I am old-fashioned, but I am also pleased to use quite a bit of modern technology. I don’t deny that there are and will be ways of reading that do not rely on blocks of paper covered in black type. I read things on the web and I often enjoy the experience. But if books as books are going to disappear, what will replace those Wind in the Willows/Charlotte’s Web moments that nourish the love between adults and children, and that sow the seeds of storytelling and language?

Does it matter? I think it does. I was reading How Fiction Works by James Wood. Referring to the “cherry-coloured twist” in Beatrix Potter’s The Tailor of Gloucester, Wood says: “Reading this to my daughter for the first time in 35 years, I was instantly returned, by the talismanic activity of that cherry-coloured twist, to a memory of my mother reading it to me.” The book, the language, the melody of it all, are part of the embrace of the mother for the son, the son in turn for his daughter. The stories of Potter are not simply a collection of disembodied words, but are part of something organic and emotional that goes where electronic reading devices possibly cannot go.

And it’s not just the children’s storybooks that will disappear with the book, so will the beloved physicalities and idiosyncrasies of all books. I have a lot of books, although I could not be described as a “collector”. They line the walls of several rooms and make me feel at home. In a mild and haphazard way, I am a collector of different editions of The Great Gatsby. I love all the different cover designs. Apart from fascinating differences, each edition brings back memories of when and where I got it, when and where I read it.

There is a moment, perhaps more touching now than when it was written, when Nick encounters the owl-eyed man in Gatsby’s library. The man asserts with amazed excitement that the books on the shelves are not fakes. “Absolutely real — have pages and everything.”

So altogether it seems to me it will be a sad world if books are completely replaced by other devices delivering text and information. Who would not want to see the pages turning, to hear the voice of their father intoning: “So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped.” The words are good, but my father’s voice coupled with the memory of the velvet autumn leaves on the armchair gives them a marvellous added resonance. Or if you are James Wood reading to your daughter, you can hear your mother in your own voice, possibly reading from your childhood version of the book: “Everything was finished except just one single cherry-coloured button-hole, and where that button-hole was wanting there was pinned a scrap of paper with these words — in little teeny-weeny writing — NO MORE TWIST.”

You can find the texts of Potter and Kenneth Grahame on the web, where you might have the added entertainment of pop-ups offering you lovely Russian girls or cures for blindness, but I believe that nothing can really replace your mother or father holding you in their arms while they read you the story from the dog-eared little book. 

Technology and e-books have their place, but who can deny the pleasure of reading and sharing a  book that you can touch?


BookRix is a free site that lets you create and publish your own books online. You can upload, e-publish and share your work as well as have it read, reviewed and critiqued.



How does BookRix work? This video answers all of the questions you thought of, and some you probably didn’t.


Do be careful of some content, however, the code of conduct states that

contents which are pornographic, contain vulgar or obscene language or which are annoying or otherwise indecent or which constitute an incitement of masses, insults, deformation or which contain unobjective and false presentations of facts or which are qualified to be unconstitutional, extremistic, racist or xenophobic or which come from prohibited groups are prohibited.

Copyright and other issues are addressed here.

Students to dump textbooks for e-books

Very interesting article in The Sunday Age today about e-books and school libraries:

Students to dump textbooks for e-books

Carmel Egan

August 16, 2009

HEAVY book-filled school bags could soon be a thing of the past, with the e-book industry claiming most of students’ textbooks will be contained in light hand-held portable devices within three years.

The internet-linked reading devices will store hundreds of e-textbooks bought online or borrowed from school libraries.

”E-textbooks will be mainstream within three years,” the executive director of DA Direct, Australia’s largest distributor of portable reading devices and e-books, Richard Siegersma, predicted.

Mr Siegersma said digital technology would lead to the costs of e-textbooks falling in a year to 18 months.

”There will be just-in-time and customised delivery to flexible, full-colour screens; textbooks with audio and video components; touch screens for handwriting and margin note-taking and text highlighting,” he said.

Speaking at a conference of school librarians in Melbourne last week, Mr Siegersma told them to prepare for the transition from print to e-readers, e-books and e-textbooks.

While book lovers in the US can already access thousands of digital titles via Amazon’s Kindle e-reader, users of the new technology complain they can be slow to upload, screens are black and white, page-turning is slow and titles are limited to certain publishers.

Mr Siegersma said technological breakthroughs, such as flexible, full-colour screens along with improved digital management and delivery systems, will revolutionise the way students access information.

Pressure from educational institutions, public libraries and government will also force print book publishers to address pent-up demand for more titles to be made available online.

The acting head of cultural studies at Macquarie University and author of The Book Is Dead, Long Live the Book, Sherman Young, agrees.

”The world is at the e-book tipping point and librarians will be the vanguard of the introduction of e-textbooks,” Dr Young told the conference, organised by Curriculum Corporation and the School Library Association of Victoria.

”Book culture is still confused with print culture and it is really only this year people have started to get e-books.”

In 2005, Macquarie University library bought 16,651 books in print form, rising to 16,764 in 2007.

By comparison, the number of e-books bought rose from 896 in 2005 to 68,719 in 2007.

However, many obstacles stand between e-textbooks and classroom domination, according to Australian Copyright Council lawyer Sneha Balakrishnan.

”Some schools are already in the process of negotiating licences tailored to their needs,” Ms Balakrishnan said.

”But there are still lots of issues to be worked through.”

Several Melbourne secondary schools have trialled e-books with students and staff in the past year with mixed results.

At the selective boys’ secondary Melbourne High School, students were not persuaded by the new technology.

While enjoying e-book mobility and easy access to multiple titles, they complained of slow data uploading, slow page-turning and too few titles available free.

Wesley College’s head of library and information services, Wilma Kurvink, trialled 18 e-readers with staff and students.

”Digital rights management restrictions at the point of sale have been developed for individuals on personal computers with credit cards, but publishers have not yet envisaged libraries as part of the mode or thought of building a lending system,” Ms Kurvink said.

”School libraries have used very traditional acquisition models but that will not work with this new technology and we need to start forming collaborative groups to work with publishers in partnership.”

We Make Stories

Book publishers Penguin have developed a website where children can write, illustrate (and add sounds) and publish their own stories.


We Make Stories enables young writers to select a number of different story platforms and even re-write a small section of classics such as Alice in Wonderland, Black Beauty and The Jungle Book. Lots of fun for everyone!


BookGlutton is a website for the book glutton in all of us. It provides a number of online book clubs where readers can select which type of group/s they’d like to join whether it be by book or by friendship group.


Full text books can be read online without the need for a specialised e-book reader. BookGlutton also offers notes for books that you are interested in reading. Readers have the ability to read, annotate and discuss books online. Some more information is available here:



More help in the form of FAQs can be accessed as well.

BookGlutton is a very clever idea melding, two of the burgeoning areas of reading; e-books and book groups.

Once upon a digital time

A very interesting article on e-books was published in The Age on Sunday (the headline of the print version was E is for eye-pod):

 Once upon a digital time


Christina Bell, of Mitcham’s Central Book Services, browses her e-reader over coffee.
Photo: Pat Scala

Liz Porter
June 21, 2009

MOST evenings Mandy Brett curls up on her couch to read a new Australian novel on her Sony e-reader, an electronic device that stores up to 350 books and allows her to “turn the page” with a flick of her finger. The senior editor at local company Text Publishing, Brett, 46, switched to e-reading 18 months ago because lugging manuscripts home was giving her a sore back.

A self-described “gadget head”, she is already onto her second e-reader, having recently upgraded to a newer version of the device. If she’s stuck waiting for a friend in a cafe, she’ll whip out her iPhone and read a few pages of Let the Right One In, a novel by Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist.

For Brett, the e-reader means work. When she reads for fun, she sticks to paper books. The current embryonic state of Australian e-publishing makes it easy for her to keep her dual reading lives separate. As yet, she says, there are still too few local e-books available for download. While all major Australian publishers, including Text, are preparing for digitalisation, the only locals already selling e-versions of their titles are Pan Macmillan and Allen & Unwin. The only book chain marketing them is Dymocks. And the only bookshops where would-be customers can inspect an e-reader are Dymocks’ main Sydney store and Melbourne’s Reader’s Feast.

If Brett were in the US, she could have a $US359 Kindle – a wireless e-reader launched by Amazon.com in late 2007. Without going near a computer, she could use her device to download any one of many thousands of Amazon.com titles – and pay only $9.99 for the privilege. And she would be one of a growing mainstream crowd doing so. For every 100 “hard” book copies ordered on Amazon, an additional 35 Kindle editions are now being sold.

For more than 10 years, the e-book has been hyped as the “next big thing” in world publishing – a prediction usually underpinned by dire prophecies about the imminent death of the conventional “hard” book.

Now, more than a decade since the launch of the first clunky, chunky, expensive e-readers (one of which lost its stored information when the batteries were changed), the e-book era seems finally to have dawned, at least in the US.

E-publishing was the hot conversation topic among the 1500 publishers and booksellers gathered at last month’s BookExpo America in New York. American publishing association figures for the first quarter of 2009 had just revealed that e-book sales comprised 1.6 per cent of US publishing sales – a formidable increase, given the fact that, pre-Kindle, they were languishing at about 0.2 per cent. Moreover, e-books were the only book industry sector showing any kind of sales surge amid the global financial crisis, rising 131 per cent during that period.

Sydney bookseller Jon Page was at the BookExpo and says the buzz about e-books was real, offering proof that “the reality (of e-publishing ) was starting to outpace the hype”.

But when will the e-book revolution hit Australia? For many individuals, it is already here.

Melburnian Christine Bell is working in the midst of it. The manager of the technical helpdesk at Mitcham’s Central Book Services, which supplies the readers that Dymocks and Reader’s Feast sell, she says there are two groups of e-reader buyers. Twentysomething students love them. And so do 50-somethings, who have the time to read and explore the new world of digital reading – and the money to buy one of the five different e-readers that her company supplies, at prices ranging from $569 to $1600.

Herself a keen e-book reader, Bell owns a $569 Hanlin V3, containing free out-of-copyright classics from Gutenberg.com, along with Matthew Reilly’s Seven Ancient Wonders, which she bought from the Dymocks-Pan Macmillan site. A regular on the internet e-book forum mobileread.com, she also organised a meeting of 14 e-book buffs in a CBD cafe last weekend. All brought their different e-readers, including one Kindle.

“One woman came from Sydney for it,” she says.

The e-book revolution has also arrived for 40-something Melbourne communications manager Lisa Bigelow, who was thrilled to find that her iPhone came with the Stanza book-reading application. She promptly bought a program containing 40 classic novels, including Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.“It’s something you can read when you are waiting somewhere,” she says. “It saves carrying a book around.”

Meanwhile, the e-reading revolution has been slowly emptying the bookcase of Sydney-based accountant Charlie Perry, 31, who bought his Sony PRS-505 e-reader (the version before Mandy Brett’s PRS-700) for $450 on eBay in January last year. “That’s about half the price of buying an iRex iLiad (the e-reader Dymocks launched in December 2007),” says Perry, who happily uses his e-reader on the bus.

“I am a big reader – and I like gadgets. The e-reader weighs about 300 grams – about the same as a hardback book.” But he still reads paper books because, as with all Australian e-book fans, he is stymied by the comparative unavailability of Australian e-titles. He is also thwarted by the fact that many overseas book sites “lock out” buyers with Australian credit cards because they only have the rights to sell books in their particular territories. E-book fans, he says, share tips on “fooling” overseas sites into selling to them (by giving a US address for example), while gift vouchers allow Australians access to US sites.

His 18 months of e-reader ownership have transformed Perry’s attitude to book ownership – prompting him to give “hard” books away once he has read them.

“I’m determined this year to get my backlog of unread books down to zero, clear my bookshelf completely and move entirely over to digital reading. You come to value the experience of reading far more than you value the object. This, I suspect, is going to become a major issue for booksellers. The cost of reading a book must be cheaper than the cost of owning it – and significantly so.”

When publishers and booksellers speak of the arrival of the e-book revolution, they mean a visible, measurable and profit-making phenomenon. That phase, they agree, will probably begin in the next year or so, and will be kicked along by the launch in Australia of the Sony e-reader, expected in the next 12 months.

But opinions vary on the preconditions necessary to kick off a local e-book boom.

HarperCollins marketing director Jim Demetriou says his company has plans to offer every new title in e-book format, expanding its range to 1000 over time. But he believes e-books will only hit the mainstream when Australians get something like a Kindle. The launch of the Sony PRS-500 was the first breakthrough, he says.

“Before that, people were reading books on Palm Pilots. When Sony launched, sales doubled. But what drove sales in the US was the Kindle,” he says. “It quadrupled sales overnight.”

Others, such as Text’s Mandy Brett, or Australian Booksellers Association CEO Malcolm Neil, say lack of a sufficient breadth of “content” is the problem.

“Forget the Kindle and the Sony reader,” says Neil. “We can get hold of those. We can’t get hold of the books.”

E-publishing will remain “a world trend still waiting to happen in Australia” until all publishers, not just Pan Macmillan and Allen & Unwin, make their titles available in e-book form. According to Neil, Australian booksellers are watching overseas e-publishing growth with increasing frustration. Not because they are worried about competition with e-books, but because they want to be part of the e-publishing action.

“Our biggest concern is that if publishers hold off too long on developing a market and partnering with booksellers, we will be too far behind the game. This will leave our marketplace wide open to someone from overseas to come in and exploit it – and we will lose control.”

Pan Macmillan’s digital marketing manager, Victoria Nash, and Allen & Unwin’s digital publishing director, Elizabeth Weiss, have much in common. Their companies are the only two Australian publishers actually producing e-titles, with Pan Macmillan offering online versions of 300 British and 308 Australian titles, and Allen & Unwin fielding more than 1200, most of them Australian and available on the Australian website eBooks.com. And both have looked on with envy at the sales generated by the customer-friendly Kindle system.

Weiss says there are also lessons to be learned from Sony’s launch in Britain late last year, in which the e-reader was introduced to old-fashioned book buyers in the familiar environment of the giant Waterstone’s book chain.

“All evidence indicates Australian readers are ready to use e-books on a larger scale than is currently the case,” she says. “It’s a matter of devices, availability, pricing and promotion.”

Richard Siegersma, executive chairman of Central Book Services, says that e-book reading needs to be made easier for Australians.

He won’t give sales figures for the various e-readers his company supplies, but says the electronic devices remain “an emerging market” because there are too few Australian titles available.

His company will soon set up its own e-book website, carrying 70,000 international titles, and will also launch a new, cheaper e-reader, the Eco-reader, costing less than $500 and linked to the website.

But will the inevitable boom in e-books mean the death of the paper book in Australia? Here, according to the most recent BookScan figures, 2008’s $1.214 billion book sales represented a 2 per cent increase on the previous year.

Sydney book seller Jon Page dismisses talk about the death of the book that he heard at last month’s New York book fair. At best, he says, e-books are predicted to eventually take up about 10 per cent of the book market, but with many sales concentrated in business, instructional and educational books.

Mandy Brett is also confident of the future of old-fashioned “hard” books. “People who love books and reading are very attached to the experience of paper.”

But e-books offer people an alternative experience, with e-readers allowing them to take 20 (or 40) books on holiday. Don Grover, chief executive of the Dymocks Group, says that his e-book website sales exceeded his two-year projections in its first six months, with current sales topping 2000 a month.

He sees digital book sales enhancing hard-book sales, with e-book formats allowing bookstores to hold up to 2 million titles and do “print on demand” versions of any book. He is also excited about new software from local company DNAML, which will allow film and video footage to be embedded in a e-book.

“Imagine: you’ll be able to watch an author explaining to you what a book is about,” he says.

Grover says reports of the death of the book are made by “people with no understanding of the consumer”. “Our research is clear: readers still want the smell and touch of a book.”

In his view, people who fuss about special e-readers also miss the point that many people read e-books on laptops.

Sherman Young, acting head of the department of media, music and cultural studies at Macquarie University and author of The Book Is Dead (Long Live the Book), says that this year the e-book has finally begun to move out of “geek territory” and into acceptance as an inevitable publishing development.

But the academic believes that the e-book will not kill the paper book until the experience of reading one is better, cheaper and more convenient. “An entire electronic book ecosystem needs to evolve – involving publishers, retailers and readers,” he says. So far, he says, Amazon’s Kindle store is an early version of that ecosystem, but still confined to the US.

“It will happen in my lifetime,” predicts the 43-year-old, who has the new Sebastian Faulks-penned James Bond novel on his iPhone.

“The paper book will eventually die. Or there will be a repurposing of it. The analogy I like to use is digital photography. Overnight – it took 10 years – nobody has a film camera any more and most people browse their photos on computer. But people still print some photos – and they still get photo albums.

“With books, a similar thing will happen, with most reading done on some sort of electronic device. Then people will turn to print for really nice photo books or gifts.”

Late last week California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called for publishers to replace textbooks with their electronic equivalent. Publishers Weekly posted this article  about the book industry’s response to his plea:

Pearson Answers Schwarzenegger’s Call for E-Textbooks

By Craig Morgan Teicher — Publishers Weekly, 6/18/2009 7:46:00 AM

Last week, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed replacing school textbooks with e-books in order to help plug a state budget gap. Now, textbook giant Pearson has responded with digital content to supplement California’s programs in biology, chemistry, algebra 2, and geometry.

In a statement made recently, Schwarzenegger said, “Kids are feeling as comfortable with their electronic devices as I was with my pencils and crayons. So why are California’s school students still forced to lug around antiquated, heavy, expensive textbooks?” But easing the strain on students’ backs was not the Governor’s main reason for putting out a call to developers to create electronic textbooks. The current budget gap in the state is estimated at $28 billion.

Peter Cohen, Pearson’s CEO of North America school curriculum business, said, “We believe it is important to take these forward steps toward an online delivery system and we are supporting the Governor’s initiative, recognizing there are numerous challenges ahead for the education community to work through,” including “how we ensure that low income and disadvantaged students receive equal access to technology; how we address the needs of English language learners; and how we protect the intellectual property rights of content and technology creators to support future investment and innovation.” 

According to the official Web site for California’s Free Digital Textbook Initiative, e-books must “approach or equal a full course of study and must be downloadable.” The site also offers instructions and links for publishers of e-books to submit books for consideration for use in California schools.

Pearson is the first major company to respond to Schwarzenegger’s initiative, which garnered an array of responses from the media, from speculation in the U.K. that others will imitate the project, to others who point out that e-books in school are not more environmentally friendly than print textbooks.

This all provides ideas for thought and discussion for schools and libraries now and into the future.

The future starts now:e-books and everything

Curriculum Corporation and the School Library Association of Victoria present a joint conference, The future starts now: e-books and everything, on Friday 14 August 2009 at ACMI, Federation Square, Melbourne.

What IS happening around the world in e-book publishing? How are these emerging technologies finding their place in school classrooms, libraries and IT systems? Will changes in information and book format delivery impact upon student engagement and achievement? Hear up-to-the-minute reflections on these matters by authoritative presenters and receive advice on your school’s copyright responsibilities. A $150-value ‘Desktop author software’ license is included free in your registration. Experiment for yourself.

Registration details available at: http://www.curriculumpress.edu.au/pd/index.php


In a previous post about Pascoe Vale Primary School students creating e-books, teacher Margo Edgar mentioned getting students to create their e-books using PhotoStory or VoiceThread.

Group conversations around images, documents and videos
Group conversations around images, documents and videos

VoiceThread is an excellent Web 2.0 resource that enables users to create text, add videos and images and then record an audio overlay. Microphones and phones can be used to record audio. Users can comment on other people’s VoiceThread uploads, so there can be collaboration with other students and teachers if you wish.

VoiceThread is such an amazing and powerful tool, it is probably better to experience it for yourself, so have a look at this screencast that shows exactly how VoiceThread works: VoiceThread screencast.

There is also an excellent wiki that shows examples of VoiceThread projects in classrooms and school libraries.  So creating digital storytelling and e-books is now much easier, both for students and teachers. Students should find e-books lots of fun to produce and share using VoiceThread!

VoiceThread could also be used for online professional development or online learning. Staff meetings or staff PD could be presented using VoiceThread and then saved for later access for people who were absent, or who want to revisit the presentation.

Some lessons could be uploaded to VoiceThread for students who are ill or absent and for sharing with other classes or schools. Distance education could take advantage of VoiceThread’s free accounts as well. Thanks to Margo Edgar at Pascoe Vale Primary School for the introduction to VoiceThread.