Will NOOKstudy really change local eBook ambivalence?

A true breakthrough amid local eBook declines?

The Reporter of Minnesota State University – Mankato explains some eTextbook features in its coverage of a NOOKstudy program that its bookstore — run by Barnes & Noble — was demonstrating Friday:

With the eTextbook, students can organize their books, presentations and handouts by course so as to help promote structure and order throughout study materials. Students can do this by adding class content to the program and have it arranged in one central location. Students can also have two eTextbooks open at one time to help compare authors’ viewpoints.

A color-coding feature is available to take and save notes, while the program also provides a reference feature to add notes from reference websites. The search element lets students search for a term throughout their notes, a single book or an entire library to help find exactly what is being looked for.

I just don’t know. That last feature — key-word searching — is the only real improvement over paper textbooks that I can see.  (For now, of course.)

But am I wrong? I should go to one of those demonstrations myself, although I had some experience with eBooks in grad school three years ago. (The reading experience I had was almost claustrophobic.)

The Mankato book store manager said it’s believed that 40 percent of the textbook market will be digital in five years. That’s ambitious considering University of Minnesota bookstore manager Bob Crabb’s observation to me that his eBook business was down about 20 percent this fall.

And as the Minnesota Daily reported earlier this month:

Despite the appeal of alternatives, Crabb said cheaper e-books haven’t caught on. “It’s got the whole industry baffled.”

He said part of the reason might be because many e-books don’t add any value, despite the potential of their electronic platform.

“Currently they’re pretty much PDFs of paper books,” he said, adding that publishers are developing interactive features on books.

Until then, he said, “They just don’t stand up to a paper book you can flip back and forth in and mark up.”

“We don’t see e-books as a game changer,” (McGraw-Hill spokesman Tom) Stanton wrote.

Or will NOOKstudy have the interactive features that Crabb was talking about?