Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics


This article was written on 20 Jun 2009, and is filled under Volume 4 2009, Volume 4 No 2.

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e-books, e-readers, and readers

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Technology in Education Column

Here is the fourth installment of our most recent feature, written by one of our CNA Centennial 100 Award Winners, Dr. Sandra Bassendowski, Associate Professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Sandra recognized a need, and offered to write this important column for the CJNI – her fourth column is focused on e-readers and how they can be used in nursing education and by nurses in general. Sandra has been recognized by the Canadian Nurses’ Association, as well as the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association and the University of Regina for her inspiring, dedicated work in her educational practice.

e-books, e-readers, and readers

What exactly is an e-book? It is an “…electronic book that can be read digitally on a computer screen, a special e-book reader, a personal digital assistant (PDA), or even a mobile phone. In other words, e-books are consumed on a screen rather than on paper” (Nelson, 2008, Highlights of e-books, 1). The literature suggests that the uptake of e-books has been slower than expected due to factors such as generational preferences, lack of compatible devices and standards, long-standing usage patterns, and current economic models for distribution of texts (Nelson, 2008; Rowlands, Nicholas, Jamali, & Huntington, 2007; Soules, 2009). Regardless of the challenges, nurse educators should prepare for the inevitability of this change as research indicates that “nearly a quarter of students prefer e-books for conducting research, and nearly one-fifth of students prefer e-textbooks. In contrast, only 8% of faculty reported preferring e-books for conducting research, and none reported e-textbooks as a preference” (Walton, as cited in Nelson, 2008, Cultural Acceptance, ¶ 4).

Although many e-books are available for personal selection and reading, I want to focus on e-books for nursing education. In addition to the myriad of e-books that can be accessed or purchased from online vendors, one of sites that I find very useful is NurseONE, the Canadian Nurses Association online portal. At the current time, there are hundreds of e-books or e-texts available for registered nurses and nursing students to use as credible and relevant resources. Once you have registered and signed on to NurseONE, click on the tab at the top of the page for the Library. From this site on the portal, you can click on MyiLibrary or STAT!Ref (two of my personal favourites) and browse the variety of topics and publishers that are pertinent to your expertise and interests.

While you are exploring the world of e-books, you might want to check out the e-book readers that are being developed and released on what seems to be a monthly basis! For example, check out the Sony Reader, Amazon Kindle, Samsung Papyrus, and Interead Cool-er. A comparison of these devices will give you details on screen size and appearance, battery life, cost, and download capabilities but you should also ensure that the device you choose supports your personal reading preferences.

Addressing e-book opportunities and challenges for nursing education requires involvement from all educational stakeholders— such as nursing faculty, librarians, technicians, administrators, and students. It may not be easy but the emphasis for change related to e-books and readers comes from the need to prepare 21st-century health care professionals with the tools they will be using to provide safe, competent, and knowledge-based care.


Nelson, M. (2008). E-books in higher education: Nearing the end of the era of hype? EDUCAUSE Review, 43(2). [Online]. Retrieved May 14, 2009 from

Rowlands, I., Nicholas, D., Jamali, H., & Huntington, P. (2007). What do faculty and students really think about e-books? AsLib Proceedings, 59(6). [Online]. Retrieved May 14, 2009 from ProQuest database.

Soules, A. (2009). The shifting landscape of e-books. New Library World, 110(1/2), 7-21. [Online]. Retrieved May 2, 2009 from Emerald database.

Waters, J. 2007). Out of Print: Traditional Textbook Publishers Are Having to Adjust to a Changing Market, as K–12 Educators Show a Growing Interest in Digital Content. THE Journal. [Online]. Retrieved May 14, 2009 from

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