Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica is catching on to a fact the rest of the world has already warmed to: e-books are the future.
This is the tune that some local publishers are singing in an effort to alleviate the high cost of publishing books. According to publishers, operational expenses are simply too high.
Digital books are said to be more cost-effective and authors can produce more books if they can tap into the digital market effectively.
Author of children's books Kellie Magnus commented on the e-book phenomena at a recent seminar hosted by Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO).
According to Magnus, a publication in digital form heavily reduces operating and marketing costs.
Among the institutions supporting digital publishing are The University of the West Indies and Ian Randle Publishers.
"Digitisation has allowed us to take more books to market, and has helped with conversion to take it across platforms," said Christine Randle, managing director of Ian Randle Publishers.
The rise of digital publishing worldwide has seen manufacturers creating several portable devices designed to read digital publications.
Magnus explained that this trend is directly related to meeting the demand for Jamaican books without the immense publishing costs that are usually part and parcel of being an author.
Ronald Anderson, representing the Office of the Deputy Principal at the University of The West Indies, said his institution found an avenue to cut expenses through the increased use of e-books.
"The principal was very concerned about the cost of textbooks, because students were not purchasing textbooks and relied heavily on lecture notes. We consulted with the faculty and provided for the students 18 of the courses that would be needed. We intended for the cost of these e-books to be so ridiculously low that it would be almost impossible for them to avoid using them," said Anderson.
According to Anderson, the introduction of e-books saw an estimated 50 per cent improvement in readership. He said the face of the university had changed, and there is now a goal to get students living off campus to interact with the university more effectively.
E-books, he explained, would bring UWI into the homes of those students living off campus and who do not have immediate access to services like the Mona Campus Library.
He also hinted at ongoing plans to upgrade the school's library in an effort to keep up with the digital revolution.
"We are hoping for at least 75 per cent penetration of tablets and e-books by September 2014, and that's the target that we are working towards," he said.