Each year, after the holidays, I ask my elementary school students what new technologies have recently entered their lives. There are many more iPod Touches out there, more computers, more Gaming Stations, but this year many of my students are reporting that they now own e-book readers (Kindles and Nooks being the top brands). I've been predicting this for a while ---that this would be the year of the E-Book--- but this was an easy prediction to make after the big players drastically reduced their prices this year. Amazon had its best year with its Kindle family, selling over a million per week during the month of December. At $79 for their entry model, a lot of students opened devices over the holiday that could store more books than they will be able to read in the lifetime of the product (I could be wrong about this... I'm not sure how long a Kindle battery holds out).
This shift is dramatic. It is the first time I've seen students at my school bringing Kindles in for silent reading. In one class, there are 6 students with Kindles of varying flavors. The teacher keeps them safe on the shelf and students are allowed to use them during reading time. I've "interviewed" many students who have the new devices and they say they "love them." When asked which they like better ---real books or e-books--- many have answered that they are "on the fence," that they still like the feel and properties of a "real" book, but are also increasingly enjoying their "digital" reads.
I've been using an iPad to read books since it first came out, and a Kindle since October, and I am getting to the point where I appreciate the Kindle more than a "real book." I'm finding myself switching over... no longer really on the fence.
So... get ready. They're coming and they're not going away (sales for young adult e-books are seeing a drastic increase). More teachers and schools are going to have to make room on their shelves for the new devices, change policies of what electronics are allowed in school, and perhaps even teach new reading strategies for electronic ink.