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Princeton Boasts Its Kindle Project Is Noblest

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the my-textbooks-weigh-nineteen-ounces dept.

Education 116

theodp writes "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what's the noblest Amazon Kindle DX project of all? While other universities announced similar programs, Princeton is boasting its project is unique in that it will focus on sustainability by reducing the amount of electronic-reserve course materials that students print. Under the pilot program, $60,000 will reportedly be used to provide 50 lucky Princeton students with $489 Kindle DX devices loaded with materials for three courses. In a FAQ, students are told not to worry about 'this time of severe economic constraints' — Princeton and Amazon have managed to tap into a fund specifically endowed to support sustainability projects to provide Kindles at no cost. In addition to a $30,000 grant from the High Meadows Foundation, which is headed by Princeton alum Carl Ferenbach (who, coincidentally, serves on the Board of Trustees of the Environmental Defense Fund with the wife of Amazon Director John Doerr), a matching amount will be provided by Princeton alum Jeff Bezos' Amazon. The E-reader Pilot Program has more information."

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116 comments

hi (0, Flamebait)

doyoulikegoatseeee (930088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889475)

kindle is stupid

Re:hi (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892259)

True, but properly used, it could make you smarter.

Taking notes? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27889477)

How do you take notes on these things?

In all my studies, I REALLY liked to take notes in margins, highlight sections, and draw diagrams/charts/figures/etc.

How are you going to do this on these ebook readers? Even if they were pen enabled, they won't have nearly the resolution needed.

MOREOVER, I like to lay out several pages of notes and open books on my desk while I study so that I can quickly glance around.

I don't see this as being a benefit to students. Just some shiny and fancy technology that someone somewhere thought was good.

They have NOT thought out the usability aspect of this, just what 'sounds' good.

Re:Taking notes? (1)

Kagura (843695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889491)

I wrote a "Pro-Kindle" post down below, but I don't think digital pads are going to be the way of the near future... using a notebook, with as fine of print as you can whittle your mechanical pencil down to, will beat any digital solution for a while to come.

And of course Kindle doesn't have touch screen... just a QWERTY pad. You can't really type fast on it, but the "click" when you push a button is satisfying and appropriate.

What? No way! (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 5 years ago | (#27891181)

A notebook and pencil? Stop being practical!

Re:Taking notes? (1)

tknd (979052) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890435)

In all my studies, I REALLY liked to take notes in margins, highlight sections, and draw diagrams/charts/figures/etc.

I liked to not write on the hand-outs or books because often they were not mine or I was planning on reselling them. Instead I just reference the section/page on my ruled notepad. The kindle shouldn't be seen as a replacement for handwritten notes. It should be seen as a tool for storing, distributing, and viewing published information without the bulk of paper.

I think the kindle would be a good device because it will alleviate more of the rote memorization of the learning process and allow students to focus more on the concepts. It will likely be similar to calculators and arithmetic. Arithmetic while a useful skill is not necessarily the most important skill to learn when understanding calculus. The answer of course may come out incorrect, but if the application of calculus was correct, the student learned the objective.

For the kindle what would be useful is full text search or referencing a library of books instead of just the physical books available. There are plenty of times when I want to reference an old math text for a method of calculating something only to find out the book is buried in the closet or worse...I sold it. The kindle would also make it much quicker to access references (assuming the references are translated into links). I have gotten annoyed many times when a paper or book will say "see figure X.Y" yet figure X.Y is 5 pages back.

Re:Taking notes? (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892283)

your notes in textbooks are a benefit, not a detraction. This is one of the better aspects of buying used. Besides the price, you get the benefit of perspective from other students.

Re:Taking notes? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892783)

Ideally, maybe, but most of the used textbooks I've flipped through that had significant notes and highlighting appear to have been previously owned by idiots.

Re:Taking notes? (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890727)

I take it you aren't a literature student, then? easiest way to give them a heart attack is to say "I write stuff on my books". Bonus point if you actually do it in front of them, though they may attempt to murder you to stop you from doing such a despicable crime.

Now, I study math and not literature but I do understand the sentiment. My notebook (of the dead tree variant) is for note-taking, hence the name, I reserve my books for reading.

Re:Taking notes? (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892015)

In every literature class I've taken (up to age 18) writing on the books has been ok and even encouraged. Usually it was just cross references and words that had changed meanings. The books that got most annotations were Jacobean plays which are available for practically nothing so buying them and only using them for the course wasn't a problem. I don't imagine things would be very different at university level.

Re:Taking notes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27890917)

Lame, know nothing response. Kindles are for reading you stupid rabbit. Take notes on notepaper. Take notes on your tablet PC. Take notes on cocktail napkins. Use your thin light weight kindle to carry around 3000 books. 10,000 technical papers.
I have the original Kindle and will have a Kindle DX this summer, because I love to read. I love to scan drawings in and display them on my Kindle. Can't wait for a larger screen for this purpose.
I'll bet you've never even used a Kindle. Based your lame ass review on supposition.

Re:Taking notes? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27891079)

I don't see this as being a benefit to students.

The benefit is that instead of a pile of text books, all you need to carry around with you is one thin slate. Break it or lose it entirely (not uncommon on college campuses) and it can be replaced with all of your downloaded content.

Furthermore, d/l the Kindle reader for your iPhone/iPod Touch and you have everything available there as well on a device you're likely to have with you always.

Plus, you can purchase and read all of Amazon's other Kindle books, PDFs, and the like. There are positives to this idea.

Re:Taking notes? (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892297)

yes, submitting yourself to a monopoly for provision of all your reading material is so very progressive.

Re:Taking notes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27891903)

How do you take notes on these things?

If it's anything like the other Kindles, that's what the keyboard is for. You can add highlights to text, write notes, etc. They get backed up on Amazon's servers (I think only for texts that you buy through Amazon, though), so if you lose your Kindle or delete your book and re-download, you get your notes back. It doesn't provide ability to draw diagrams or anything fancy like that. So for you, it may not be the best choice, unless you figure out how to adjust. For others (like me), I've never needed to draw diagrams in my text books and rarely do more than underline something. I would have loved to have something like this when I was studying, especially if it meant I could carry around multiple books without the added weight. I would have brought my books to class far more often.

Re:Taking notes? (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892305)

"If it's anything like the other Kindles, that's what the keyboard is for. You can add highlights to text, write notes, etc."

option list:
a - write with pen in short hand
b - thumb-type on a clumsy keyboard

i know which one will keep up with the lecture, and which one will leave you lost in about 2 minutes.

Re:Taking notes? (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892267)

Agreed. For the reasons you stated and the ones im about to outline, "e-books" are not a help to college students; they're a bane. this is just another example of a ranked university getting cocky and shoving corporate agendas down the throats of their student body.

I moved off my (top 20) school's campus when they started cock-blocking my bit torrent claiming "computer security" issues while their official mail servers and internal lans continued to teem with viruses ranging from contemporary to ancient.

They once tried to push off ebook crap on me, and I had to come in and xerox physical copies to get the information i wanted because their horrible DRM systems didn't even work on WINDOWS.

If you're examining a prospective school and they use anything beyond password or server protected PDF files for their e-reserves you need to find someplace else and tell them exactly why, otherwise you'll end up spending that 12 hour crunch time wrestling with DRM instead of the meat of your projects.

Re:Taking notes? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892325)

You're right! Clearly the money should be used to buy them all convertible tablet laptops.

Re:Taking notes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27892529)

You would still use a pencil and paper, although you would not write in the book. Its a change that is worth it.

Removing the need for kids to carry huge books to class each day alleviates the problems we are seeing in kids skeletons and muscles. It would also allow these same students to carry ALL their books with them, which would help them get their homework done.

Is it perfect? Nah, but it is more of a start than we have seen in the last 30 years.

I don't know about you, but I had a walking campus, and I could not easily carry every single book with me.

When you use capital letters, such as in "NOT" your case should probably be stronger, in this case maybe you didnt think all of it through. I would advise ditching the practice.

If you want to take notes, an iRex does this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27893519)

The Kindle is far from being the best product of its kind. But it gets better :

This "article" is a blatant Slashvertisement. If Amazon was really so "noble" Amazon would sell ALL Kindles AT COST to undergraduate students who could demonstrate financial need.
Instead Amazon is using Princeton to pimp product. Bezos, I'm not impressed -- you're wealthy enough to act with more dignity than this now.

In any case, here's some inside info : Apple will shortly be introducing a product which will utterly eclipse the Kindle, and if you buy a Kindle now you will soon regret that decision.

Slashdot has dropped to a new level of suck lately. I guess Malda and his crew have new houses to pay off or something.

One more thing : the omission of the count of responses for each story in the main Slashdot page is a step backward. Can't you people leave well enough alone ?

Re:Taking notes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27893597)

There is a note and highlight feature which I use in my Kindle. It works just fine for me. Just because a Kindle DX wouldn't work for you doesn't mean it wouldn't work for others. I love my Kindle because I can change the font sizes...helps me read faster. I dread reading paper books anymore. Luckily, this semester 2 out of 5 classes had texts available on Kindle...made my life easier.

So speak for yourself, not everyone, especially when you obviously have never used a Kindle.

Kindle 2 (3, Interesting)

Kagura (843695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889479)

I just got my Kindle 2 yesterday. While I have yet to see if it sticks, right now I'm pretty impressed by it. The screen looks just like paper, and I don't think it uses any battery power to "hold" its image on the screen (it has no backlight, but neither do books). When it showed up, I peeled off the clear sticker with a printed "Amazon" logo on it, only to realize that the sticker was a clear sheet... and the "Amazon" was actually displayed on the screen and kept during shipping. Pretty cool.

I never buy books because I'm lazy and I never know if I'll like them, plus the hassle of having to acquire them and then wait for them to get to you. I've never read Larry Niven, instead opting to read the synopsis of the plots of Wikipedia, but I have read three short stories (Core, Neutron Star, and now in the middle of Flatlander) and I am loving it. I'm writing this because an eBook reader is better than I thought it would be, and it would probably be better than you think, as well. I like it and I'm impressed.

Re:Kindle 2 (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890349)

I never buy books because I'm lazy and I never know if I'll like them, plus the hassle of having to acquire them and then wait for them to get to you. I've never read Larry Niven, instead opting to read the synopsis of the plots of Wikipedia....

Perhaps this is the perfect market for Kindle - people too lazy to read books, who think the only way to find books is online, and who are satisfied with Wikipedia summaries. While there are certainly advantages to a handheld portable library, nothing will replace the real book.

And, seriously, check out a bookstore or library some time -- browse through the shelves and pick up books at random, take one home with you -- I guarantee you'll find it more satisfying than "the hassle of having to acquire them and then wait for them to get to you."

Re:Kindle 2 (2, Informative)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892367)

So what would you recommend for me? For years I've wanted to read Green's History of the English People (not the short one) but couldn't bring myself to pay hundreds of dollars for the books from a collector, just to read them and risk damaging them.

They're free from Gutenberg though, but a pain to read on a computer. On my Kindle, they're perfectly available, for free.

So I think your characterization is inaccurate for some of the Kindle users.

Re:Kindle 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27892295)

Well, hellooooo Mr. Target Market.

It has only one ability that makes it better than books (data density) while lacking all the other advantages of books.

The iphone I already own does that, can display all the ebook formats I care about, *and* it fits in my pocket.

Re:Kindle 2 (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892313)

Go to Gutenberg. Download books.

This script will help you fix up any *.txt files you want to look right on your Kindle:

#!/usr/bin/ruby -an
if ($_.size==2) then
printf("\n\n");
elsif ($_.size==1) then
printf("\n\n");
else
chomp!
printf("%s ",$_);
end

Also, get the Mobi books software to make your own ebooks.

http://www.mobipocket.com/en/DownloadSoft/default.asp?Language=EN [mobipocket.com]

60 000$ for 50 students? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27889481)

Isn't that a bit much? Are Princeton trying to publicly announce it's expensive as hell to study there?

Re:60 000$ for 50 students? (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889631)

That's exactly what I was wondering...

Throw in the leather cover and extended warranty, and your Kindle costs a maximum of $638... x 50 students, $31,900 for hardware.

That leaves $28,100 for the course materials... / 50 students = $562 per student, / 3 courses = $187 per student per course for electronic materials.

If all those students were law students, and they were all buying their books new, maybe that would make sense. Otherwise, it just sounds like a ripoff. Used textbooks, even multiple ones per course, shouldn't run anywhere near that.

Re:60 000$ for 50 students? (1)

Evets (629327) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889767)

I know even back in the early '90s there were a few courses that I spent ~$200 on books alone, let alone the money at kinkos for copies of presentations and notes, lab materials, or other required merchandise. And I went to a gulp state school. I don't think this is too far out of line. I imagine they are targetting the classes where Kindle can show the most value for this initial pilot.

Of course, at the end of the semester, I got to sell most of it back to the bookstore.

Re:60 000$ for 50 students? (2, Interesting)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889857)

Maybe my case is unusual, but I'm fairly sure I never spent more than $150 on books for a single class, and even that was rare. I went to a state flagship university for undergrad.

The most expensive books were for basic science classes (well, and that one accounting book I bought before realizing that I wanted nothing to do with the business school), running around $80 to $110...

This year, I had to buy a law textbook... the "revised" 4th edition was selling at Barnes and Noble for about $100. I bought the (not revised) 4th edition off of Amazon for $20. While I was waiting for it to ship, I sat in B&N drinking hot chocolate, and wrote down all the changes in the revised edition (which were helpfully noted in two pages at the beginning).

The slightly older version was practically identical; it lacked two cases that were very recent, both of which I found the opinions for online. The extra footwork was well worth the $80 saved.

Re:60 000$ for 50 students? (2, Interesting)

steve.howard (988489) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890619)

Advanced mathematics and science textbooks are (very) expensive. My textbooks for calc-based physics, differential equations, and discrete math all ran me well over $100 (highest was $180). For some reason, the assigned textbook is also always the worst in its field...

Re:60 000$ for 50 students? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889795)

I think you forgot the $20,000 administration fee. The organization behind this charity work needs that for the staff.

Re:60 000$ for 50 students? (0, Flamebait)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889633)

$1200 a student? That's not that much. Apparently someone hasn't looked at the cost of textbooks lately.

(It's still a waste though)

Re:60 000$ for 50 students? (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892335)

$1200 a student? That's not that much. Apparently someone hasn't looked at the cost of textbooks lately.

(It's still a waste though)

That's in addition to whatever obscene fee amazon charges for the actual reading material.

Btw, I took some pretty "expensive" majors in terms of textbooks at a highly ranked university and never had to pay more than 600.

At Georgia Tech in the EE department... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27889483)

...they just started to cut off our printing so that we couldn't print large amounts of material anymore.
 
Oh well. That is why anyone who does his homework wouldn't go to Tech.
 
KHHHHHAAAANNNNNNN

Re:At Georgia Tech in the EE department... (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890547)

You may be amazed to learn how much it actually costs a large school to offer free printing. Students will not think twice about printing an entire book. The school becomes a de facto Kinkos with all the costs that are baked into that kind of operation.

Most schools eventually cry uncle and implement some kind of price per printed page. A least most schools don't put "unlimited printing!" in their ad materials (I'm looking at you cable broadband industry).

Why use Kindle? (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889535)

iLiad supports markup. Kindle is only suitable for non-work or non-school related reading, i.e. fiction, etc.

Re:Why use Kindle? (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889647)

Why is 'markup' a requirement for it to be useable in the classroom?

i have *never* defaced one of my textbooks, ever. Even my lab books remain pristine, as i made any notes on blank paper instead.

Re:Why use Kindle? (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890533)

Just because you don't deface your textbooks for your own benefit does not mean that others don't find it better for them.

Re:Why use Kindle? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892733)

I didn't say others don't, i was only commenting on the OP's attitude that its a *requirement*, since not everyone needs to for it to be useful in an educational environment I don't agree that it is...

Re:Why use Kindle? (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890535)

Because many individuals like to mark up their books.

I generally don't mark mine up. That being said, I do mark up some of my books.

An ebook reader that allows markup with text notes and electronic highlighting and the ability to draw figures on a page will be a killer device.

As for resolution, it is definitely doable. Easiest way is to use the whole screen as an input for a pen, with the ability to shrink it down to post-it size or smaller once you finish.

The added benefit of being able to search not just the text of the book but also your notes and (conceivably) also your drawings is the nail in the coffin of the dead-tree books.

Re:Why use Kindle? (1)

Deanalator (806515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890843)

I think GP said "markup" not "marker" or "mark on".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markup_language [wikipedia.org]

Markup is a significant requirement for textbooks, as it is required for things like proper image placement, equations, bulleted/numbered lists etc.

Re:Why use Kindle? (1)

Eighty7 (1130057) | more than 5 years ago | (#27891141)

Digital books can't be defaced. The reason it's a requirement is it's one of the best ways to fix it in memory. It's hard to explain, but ebooks don't allow you to get a feel for a book. When searching through a real book, you easily flip through it knowing the section you want is a few pages from this image, about halfway down this page. Lacking this, markup becomes the best option.

Re:Why use Kindle? (2, Informative)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889731)

The Kindle DX does support "markup", in the sense of bookmarks, annotations, notes, etc. It doesn't have a Wacom touchscreen or pen input like the iRex devices, no.

On the other hand, I'll put up with keyboard-only input to get a larger screen than the iLiad, and something 1/2 the price of the DR-1000.

Re:Why use Kindle? (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890601)

The iLiad also costs $700. Kudos to iRex for making a tablet e-book reader, but at that price it's smarter for students to just get a used tablet PC instead.

VERY cool (1)

floodo1 (246910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889543)

I considered buying a Kindle last year because I got sick of having to manage what books I'd have to take with me to school, and got tired of the weight. But Amazon only had 2 of 6 textbooks that I needed, and even then they weren't discounted much (maybe this is peculiar to me), so I didn't end up buying one. If they got serious about higher education and managed to get a larger percentage of books I'd probably try it out.

That said, I'm not sure how comfortable I am with having my books in digital only form. This semester in particular, a lot of my teachers have been giving us a LOT of pdf scans of books that they own, and how would this be possible if they had originally bought that book on Kindle? Plus you can't loan kindle books to your friends or colleagues.

Re:VERY cool (2, Interesting)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889735)

The Kindle supports text copying from a book, so you can clip out a section of text and it would likely be more usable than something scanned from a physical book. Not an issue at all. You can also take screenshots of the Kindle screen but that is limited to the physical display, not any particular text.

I am sure the DX will have at least this capability, if not something better in terms of screen shots.

Re:VERY cool (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889761)

The new DX supports PDF out of the box and since it is an appropriate size for reading a PDF (8.5X11 / A4)those scans are perfectly good.

This might be controversial, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27889547)

I'm an undergraduate. I'm reading physics. I have a wall full of books, I've been using computers since I was two, coding since I was about nine, and I'm about as "techie" as it's possible to get without having implants a la Borg.

I'd rather have the books. In dead-tree format. Ideally from a library, and with helpful pencil marks correcting all the mistakes in the text...

Re:This might be controversial, but... (3, Insightful)

bcat24 (914105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890069)

As a fellow college student, I have to agree with you. I would hate to have to use a Kindle for my school reading. If the Kindle textbooks were cheaper by a significant amount (i.e. a factor of ten), then I might be forced to reconsider my stance for economic reasons, but even then I wouldn't like it. As I see it, the Kindle offers two advantages over paper books: lack of weight and easy searchability. These are both nice things to have, but certainly they don't outweigh the many disadvantages of the Kindle: need for a battery, annoying interface, a proprietary file format, etc.

For pleasure reading, the Kindle is even worse. When I read a book, I want to actually read a book, not some digital facsimile thereof. If I want to find something new to read, I want the ability to go to a bookstore or the library and browse actual, physical, paper books. If this makes me a snob or a technophobe, so be it.

Finally, I find it very amusing that Princeton is being all high-and-mighty about its Kindle project being sustainable. Paper books, if properly cared for, can last hundreds of years. I have some books that my parents purchased before I was born which are still in good condition today, and I'd like to be able to pass them on to any future children I might have. Will Amazon still support today's Kindle format 50 years from now? Maybe they will, but I'm a bit skeptical.

Re:This might be controversial, but... (1)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 5 years ago | (#27891001)

The ebooks themselves will last beyond the 50 years you talk about.. but there will probably be 20 plus versions and updated technologies of readers before that time.. and perhaps require converting the info into a different format now and then to keep up... The thing with worrying about that, is you get into the trap of thinking that many did when PC's started becoming popular.. I knew so many people who wanted a PC but were always reluctant to buy because they knew that as soon as they did, it would not be "the latest and greatest", so they just never bought one.

From a "saving paper" point of view, I think that is going to take awhile, but there will probably come a day when ebooks outsell paper books.. and even further down the road there will probably be a time when getting a new paper book will become so expensive as to be impractical.

Kindle isn't the only e-book reader! (3, Informative)

YA_Python_dev (885173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889569)

I don't know why most people think that Kindle is the only e-book reader available.

It isn't. It's not even the best.

Check out the iLiad [wikipedia.org] : it has a bigger screen, higher resolution, much better connectivity (wifi, ethernet, SD/MMC, CF, USB host and device, which means it can read USB keys, but it can also appear as an USB key to a PC) and most important is very open: no DRM bullshit, it runs Linux and if you want you can get root access (without having to crack into your own device), install new applications or whatever...

Disclaimer: I have no relation with iRex, the maker of iLiad, I'm only an happy customer that's pissed off by all the attention that inferior and DRM-infested products like the Kindle get, while a lot of people don't even know that there are alternatives.

P.S.: on a similar note: the iPods are not the only MP3 players, not even the best ones. It's a big world...

Re:Kindle isn't the only e-book reader! (4, Informative)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889681)

First of all, the iLiad doesn't have a bigger screen or higher resolution than the Kindle DX. Bigger than the Kindle 2, yes, but the reason the DX is a big deal is because of the larger screen.

Now the iRex DR-1000 is bigger than the Kindle DX, but it also costs nearly $1000. I was looking at the DR-1000, but the reviews seem so mixed... some people are very happy, others really pissed that they spent so much money and got a buggy and apparently very fragile device.

In spite of all that, I was still thinking about dropping a grand on a large e-reader. Then, the DX came along - large, half the cost of the DR-1000, and from a reputable company with a large volume of previous devices sold. iRex may not be a bad company, but they don't have US offices (only through resellers), and their communication with customers leaves much to be desired. My customer experiences with Amazon have been fantastic (had two items replaced w/o question: one had never been delivered, other was defective).

Re:Kindle isn't the only e-book reader! (1)

YA_Python_dev (885173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890173)

First of all, the iLiad doesn't have a bigger screen or higher resolution than the Kindle DX.

Yeah, whatever: you are comparing a product that has been available for years to one that is has not yet been released. I call BS.

To compare apples to apples, the first generation of iLiads has a bigger screen that the first generation of Kindle (including Kindle 2) and the same is true for the latest offerings. And I'm being generous here because the iRex DR-1000 is actually available now, the Kindle DX is not.

Re:Kindle isn't the only e-book reader! (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890257)

Yeah, whatever: you are comparing a product that has been available for years to one that is has not yet been released. I call BS.

What exactly are you calling BS at? Are you saying you think the DX is vaporware? That's a pretty bold claim, considering Amazon (not Phantom or someone) is already taking orders for it, and has specifications posted, and they have photos and videos of it.

Display: 9.7" diagonal E-Ink® electronic paper display, 1200 x 824 pixel resolution at 150 ppi, 16-level gray scale.

That is both physically larger, and higher resolution than the iLiad (8.1-inch (diagonal) Electronic Paper Display 768 x 1024 pixels resolution, 160 DPI.)

And yes, I know the DR-1000 is available now. It also is about twice the price of the Kindle DX, and if you read the iRex forums, there are a lot of people who are very dissatisfied with the DR-1000 - enough to scare me off from buying one now that there is a viable alternative.

Re:Kindle isn't the only e-book reader! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27893391)

Yeah, whatever: you are comparing a product that has been available for years to one that is has not yet been released. I call BS.

      "What exactly are you calling BS at? Are you saying you think the
        DX is vaporware?"

The Amazon product is unproven and as such is not yet a worthy competitor to a product which is proven and has been sold for a while. And you are a dumb shit. If you're still confused, you can always kill yourself and do the world a favor.

Re:Kindle isn't the only e-book reader! (1)

YA_Python_dev (885173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889913)

One more thing I forgot: unlike the Kindle, the iLiad also has a touchscreen and you can take notes, make drawings and add corrections directly on the pages of any file supported, including PDF and HTML files, just like you would do with a paper book.

But really I want to stress that the most important "feature" is that is not Defective By Design: with the Kindle you have to send your PDF or HTML files to Amazon to be converted to the proprietary and DRM'ed format used, which will then only work on a single device, no matter what license you have... How can people accept this? They are simply screwing their customers by trying a lock-in on your books!

FUD (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889987)

But really I want to stress that the most important "feature" is that is not Defective By Design: with the Kindle you have to send your PDF or HTML files to Amazon to be converted to the proprietary and DRM'ed format used, which will then only work on a single device, no matter what license you have...

I am not a kindle apologist, but with the DX, that is simply not true. The DX has a built in PDF reader. That's another reason why it's a big deal, and a major advance over the Kindle 2. I think you need to look up the specs [amazon.com] for the DX before commenting further, you're clearly confusing it with the Kindle 2 - it is significantly different.

Also, if it can read PDFs natively, that means you can convert pretty much anything to PDF yourself and read it natively. Just get the PDFCreator print driver - volia - DOC, HTML, whatever, will be converted just fine.

Re:Kindle isn't the only e-book reader! (1)

bonius_rex (170357) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892489)

But really I want to stress that the most important "feature" is that is not Defective By Design: with the Kindle you have to send your PDF or HTML files to Amazon to be converted to the proprietary and DRM'ed format used, which will then only work on a single device,

You are entirely wrong about this. You can convert your PDF into a mobidoc on your desktop and copy the prc file to your kindle over the USB port. I do this all the time, and it works out great. No DRM, doesn't involve Amazon at all.

You're forgetting features. (1)

boombaard (1001577) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890109)

Don't forget about the fact that, with the iLiad/DR1000S, you can annotate/write/underline/etc. in/on PDFs with a stylus (although I found the supplied stylus fairly imprecise, you can replace that by another pen, like the Cross Executive (Capless) pen); something I find very useful while studying/reading. That said, the iLiad probably does lack something by way of user-friendliness, (compared to the Kindle) and is more expensive (although, if you don't care about WiFi, getting the Book Edition will lower the price significantly), but at least you can properly read (that is, with highlighting/underlining 'support') PDFs on it, as The KindleDX currently does not support bookmarking/highlighting in PDFs, only in their own DRM-able (although the DRM is removed fairly easily) Mobipocket-derived format.
Furthermore, they seem to be uninterested in supporting ePub on the Kindle (which probably has something to do with the fact that people could then go elsewhere to get DRMed content, rather than being forced to buy all their DRMed content at Amazon). Also, the Kindles do not support folders, so whether you have 40 files or 4000, you'll have to scroll through the lot alphabetically to get to whatever title you're looking for. Wonderful, that.
Finally, considering the total storage is only 3.2GB for the KindleDX with no expansion slot, having many scanned PDFs (with filesizes of 50MB+) is not an option either. (the iLiad supports CF cards up to 32GB.)

Having said that, there number of titles on offer as ebooks by textbook publishers is still very limited, so trusting that Amazon will make sure all course materials necessary in every university that participates in this pilot project would be a fairly gullible thing to do, which means that, if you have to buy the DX yourself, you have to factor in the facts that 1. you won't be able to resell books, and 2. you will probably still have to buy books in hardback, at the "normal" prices (supposedly the ebook texts will be slightly cheaper, but still very expensive.
On a sidenote, quite a few titles can be found on the darknet already, and most of the titles that are available "for free" are offered as PDFs, or HTML ebooks (which can be converted), so a big screen (like the KindleDX, the iLiad and the DR1000 have) is very handy when it comes to reading those fixed-size, non-reflowable ebooks.
The Kindle DX at least has the size going for it (it's bigger than the iLiad, but smaller than the DR1000 [irextechnologies.com] , although the latter (still?) offers a fairly bad battery life), but I still wouldn't want it, simply because the fact that you aren't able to highlight anything on it, unless you buy from Amazon.

Re:Kindle isn't the only e-book reader! (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890859)

and most important is very open: no DRM bullshit

The iLiad has support for Mibipocket's DRM.

Re:Kindle isn't the only e-book reader! (1)

bonius_rex (170357) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892455)

but it can also appear as an USB key to a PC) and most important is very open: no DRM bullshit, it runs Linux

I have a first-gen Kindle, and I am quite satisfied with it. It runs Linux too. It's a USB storage device too. It reads non-DRM ebooks [manybooks.net] just fine. There is "DRM bullshit" if and only if you buy your books from Amazon, which is not a requirement.

I bought it to read books, not to try to get root on it. If getting root is really worth spending an extra $500, be my guest, but I'll keep my money and spend it on books.

What sort of 'fund'? (0)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889611)

If its funded by tax dollars i want my money back, or a free kindle DX of my own.

I should have a say-so in how my $ is spent.

Or you can just apply to Princeton . . . (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889719)

That's definitely another option: http://www.princeton.edu/main/admission-aid/ [princeton.edu]

Re:Or you can just apply to Princeton . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27892035)

I would if I could, but...

I can't, because they're in their ivory tower of joy and won't allow for either transfers or anyone who's already taken a semester of college anywhere else.

Re:What sort of 'fund'? (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889791)

Good job manufacturing outrage.

Re:What sort of 'fund'? (1)

Evets (629327) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889837)

Princeton is private. But that's not to say that there isn't a world of waste happening at the university level at state sponsored schools.

It really is sad that the education budget numbers always include mismanaged universities when such a small segment of the budget goes to what we think of most when we hear education - elementary, junior high, and high schools. At a higher education facility a 10% budget cut means people will have to use their laptops a bit longer and that new building on campus will have to wait. At a primary school it means that teachers will have to use their salaries to buy classroom materials and parents will have to raise funds for books if they don't want their kids growing up thinking that the most recent president was Bill Clinton and Pluto is still a planet.

Sustainable? (3, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889629)

What possible reason could there be for anyone thinking that a Kindle represents any sort of "sustainable" anything? Because it reduces the use of a recyclable commodity called paper?

If anything, the production of a Kindle uses vastly more resources than any paper and printing operation. In addition, from my understanding of it (being a Kindle 2 owner) the Kindle display has a rather short lifespan of around 2 years or so. And then it is dead and must be replaced - or at least the contrast is unreadably bad so it must be replaced. What is the lifespan of a modern textbook that is cared for at all well? 20 years? More?

No, I don't think there is anything even remotely "sustainable" about a Kindle and anyone believing that needs to have their head examined. Also, the level of technology required to produce a Kindle and the resources that go into making one are likely enough to feed 100 starving Africans for every Kindle not made. Now that would be a step in the direction of "sustaniable."

Re:Sustainable? (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889827)

In my experience, the lifespan of a modern textbook is about 3 years. I mean, you can still read it after that, but good luck trying to use it in a class.

There is some potential that e-readers could be used to replace coursepacks and other printed/photocopied material, so it isn't just textbooks that might be replaced.

Also, the article mentions that there are 60 people trying it, so I wouldn't freak out just yet.

Re:Sustainable? (1)

cpotoso (606303) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890979)

And in my experience as a University professor (nearly 10 years) the book changes are usually insignificant ("major change" is that they may change the order of the end-of-chapter problems...). I would recommend to anyone that has a 3+ year old book to simply use it, the only thing you need is to photocopy the end-of-chapter problems...

Re:Sustainable? (2, Interesting)

TheLongshot (919014) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890755)

Considering that textbooks get replaced all the time, your estimate for 20 years is unrealistic.

You are correct that the information doesn't change much, but the companies who make textbooks want to sell more, so they issue a new edition, rearrange some of the information in there, and then suddenly the secondary market now has an obsolete book which isn't acceptable for whatever class you are taking.

As for lifespan, my Sony Reader is still going strong after a year of pretty heavy usage. Considering that the original Kindle has been out for barely over a year, you can't say that the Kindle's lifespan is 2 years. No Kindle has reached 2 years yet!

Re:Sustainable? (1)

dulridge (454779) | more than 5 years ago | (#27891257)

OK, it was 30 years ago, but I managed to get away with using quite a lot of my uncle's textbooks - he was an undergraduate in 1945 - I used quite a few of his books in 1978-9. Unfortunately, he died in 1978 so i couldn't pick his brains.

I still have some of them and they are still exactly as comprehensible as they were when I graduated. However, I'm not a chemist any more and looking at a first year chemistry paper a few years ago, the only question I could answer was the one that said: Name:

It would appear that the chemistry syllabus locally has changed quite a bit in the last 30 years. The nearly 65 year old textbooks are just as good as they ever were for refreshing my memory though.

Might make it hard to pass exams, however. This may be more due to fashion than anything else. The basics - the first year or so have not really changed since the 1920's.

Principles rarely change much. Exam questions do...

Re:Sustainable? (2, Insightful)

TheLongshot (919014) | more than 5 years ago | (#27891765)

No doubt. I kept my Calculus textbook for just that reason.

Often for a class, tho, you will need a textbook since often the professor will teach to that textbook. Sometimes you will need the questions or problems defined in the text book for some assignments.

Then again, some subjects don't hold up for 20 years. For example, history text books tend to reflect the times that they were written in. One that was written in the 60s would have a different slant than one written in the 90s.

Re:Sustainable? (1)

laddiebuck (868690) | more than 5 years ago | (#27893305)

20 years? We have acid-free paper these days, you know. More like indefinite. I regularly read books at my library from between the 1850s and the 1920s. Most of them have never even been re-bound.

Sustainability? (2)

Abjifyicious (696433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889675)

Paper is plenty sustainable. It's a renewable resource that can be recycled easily and cheaply. Obviously it takes some energy to manufacture and ship, but so does the kindle.

The "sustainability" claim is obviously just an excuse for something they wanted to do anyway.

It would be nice to cost less... (1)

John3k (1489761) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889679)

It is awesome that there is another, larger screen, Kindle. It is pretty exciting that Amazon is putting a ton of effort into revolutionizing and popularize eBook.

If they properly take care of tables, graphics, annotations, that would make this a very powerful tool for textbooks.

Another thing is the price point. It's a bit strange that Kindle DX costs as much as a laptop.

Anyway, I don't have a Kindle but checked one out from a friend. The screen is very neat and unlike most standard back-lit LCDs. If you get a chance, check it out. It's VERY cool.

On the note about Amazon, I recently came across an interesting table that details the discounts on Amazon.
It is at http://www.uberi.com [uberi.com]

Maybe someone will find it useful too, or at least somewhat amusing...

!Troll (0, Troll)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889685)

This is not a troll.

=Smidge=

!Reply (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889853)

This is not a reply.

=Yvan256=

Re:!Troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27891891)

I didn't mod you -1, Troll.

=Anonymous Coward=

Noblest is not a word (3, Funny)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889799)

You want "Most Noble".

Re:Noblest is not a word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27890027)

Merriam-Webster says Noblest is a word, they must not realize you get to make that call.

English fail (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890075)

The Oxford English Dictionary attests both forms. Some uses of "noblest".

1616 SHAKESPEARE Julius Caesar (1623) V. v. 67 This was the Noblest Roman of them all.
1818 BYRON Childe Harold IV. cxlvii, Relic of nobler days, and noblest arts!
1976 S. F. HALLGARTEN German Wines vi. 61 The Riesling vine is the noblest that anyone in Germany has up till now succeeded in cultivating for the production of white wines.

These Kindles come with dictionaries, too. Maybe you could use one.

Re:English fail (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27893359)

Has anyone ever told you you're an obnoxious little cocksucker,
?

Some day your smartass demeanor is going to get you a serious
ass-whipping, and it will probably do you good.

Suspicious (1)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889823)

Will they be able to keep devices after they leave school?

If so, Will they be able to continue to access the "e" books permanently, or choose to sell (some/all) of them to a bookstore (but keep their kindle)?

I wonder who is making this endowment. It wouldnt happen to be book publishers, would it? After all, they will get to save on physical publication costs, and at the same time prevent any of these books from finding their way to the resale market, if they get this to catch on. I'm also assuming that they wont fund the books for these kids following years of school. (Although they might get a 10% discount, just to give them encouragement to stick with the electronic books that they cant then sell at the end of the year to other students or bookstores)

Another step towards a Post-Scarcity Princeton? (0)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889843)

Something I wrote on that topic last year:
    "Post-Scarcity Princeton"
    http://www.pdfernhout.net/post-scarcity-princeton.html [pdfernhout.net]
"Wikipedia. GNU/Linux. WordNet. Google. These things were not on the visible horizon to most of us even as little as twenty years ago. Now they have remade huge aspects of how we live. Are these free-to-the-user informational products and services all there is to be on the internet or are they the tip of a metaphorical iceberg of free stuff and free services that is heading our way? Or even, via projects like the RepRap 3D printer under development, are free physical objects someday heading into our homes? If a "post-scarcity" iceberg is coming, are our older scarcity-oriented social institutions prepared to survive it? Or like the Titanic, will these social institutions sink once the full force of the iceberg contacts them? And will they start taking on water even if just dinged by little chunks of sea ice like the cheap $100 laptops that are ahead of the main iceberg? ... We are witnessing a historic end to scarcity of many things (maybe not all, but enough to be a new global Renaissance). But is Princeton University helping prepare either students or the rest of society for these changes? Or is it instead an institution under stress, crashing into these trends instead of moving with them? Or is it perhaps conflicted in how it sees itself and its future, and so trying to do both these conflicting approaches at once? :-) Capitalism is often it seems all about cost cutting. Why do people have such a hard time thinking about what happens as costs approach zero, even for improvements in quality? Or why do economists have a hard time understanding that many conventional economic equations may produce infinities as costs trend towards zero? "

Re:Another step towards a Post-Scarcity Princeton? (1)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890839)

Are you taking Peak Oil into account when you talk about the end of scarcity?

Re:Another step towards a Post-Scarcity Princeton? (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892369)

Yes. I don't think Peak Oil is show stopper issue. It has been said said, "The stone age did not end when we ran out of rocks, and the oil age will not end because we run out of oil." Examples:
    http://www.nashvillefossils.com/resources/pages/historyofuse.html [nashvillefossils.com]

See also:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brittle_Power [wikipedia.org]
"Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security is a 1982 book by Amory B. Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins, prepared originally as a Pentagon study, and re-released in 2001 following the September 11 attacks. The book argues that domestic energy infrastructure is very vulnerable to disruption, by accident or malice, often even more so than imported oil. According to the authors, a resilient energy system is feasible, costs less, works better, is favoured in the market, but is rejected by U.S. policy. In the preface to the 2001 edition, Lovins explains that these themes are still very current."

Oil, for many of the purposes we use it for, may become more expensive in the near term. But there are *lots* of alternatives. I tend to like solar photovoltaic best as a solution that is quiet and has few if no moving parts, but there are lots of other possibilities for getting usable energy.

I'd be more worried about social problems caused by unemployment from exponentially rising productive capacity of society in the face of limited demand, and that is the very problem the elites (and others) of the world need to wrestle with. For example, how many people does it take to make a Kindle (or OLPC or whatever) for everyone on the planet, as opposed to how many people does it take to keep a vast industry going making and recycling paper? Automation as well as better design is ending the very notion of work as we know it, to the point where, as with GNU/Linux a relatively few people can supply everyone with high quality products, so any rationale for a link between having a right to consume and having a job is going away (which may create huge social problems in a capitalist framework). This was predicted even in the 1960s:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Triple_Revolution [wikipedia.org]

Re:Another step towards a Post-Scarcity Princeton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27892441)

This isn't about natural scarcity, it's about artificial economic scarcity. Corporations haven't succeeded in some areas to make (non-material) resources artificially scarce, and that is a challenge to profitability. They're still trying to enforce scarcity by "intellectual property" laws, DRM, patents and such, but they know that if people can't get free as in cracked, they will get free as in FOSS, which is even worse for corporate interests.

BeBook (1)

fotisaros (1414265) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889927)

The best e-reader I have ever seen is BeBook [mybebook.com] .

Cute (1)

earnest murderer (888716) | more than 5 years ago | (#27889979)

Wake me when I can download all my materials onto the thing.

As-is it's just a ridiculously expensive/fragile thing I have to pack in addition to my perfectly competent laptop and 40 LBS of other books.

or

Just give me the damn PDF's and save your money. For $60k they could have made a big dent in the production of a few high quality Free textbooks and save thousands of times that in dead tree books.

Do students get to keep the books that they buy? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27890241)

I'm 15 years out of college and still have some of the books on my bookshelf. Will students using Kindle get to keep theirs?

I got the impression that Kindle books were tied to an Amazon subscription, and if you lose the subscription, you lose the books. Even if that isn't true, will they still have these books for the rest of their lives? Aren't they in a proprietary format? Can you back them up?

Kindle (and iPhone) is cool tech, but it isn't Free (as-in-speech). You're rights to what you 'buy' are limited, and it can make a difference.

Laptop? (1)

Bensam123 (1340765) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890283)

Buy the students a laptop or tablet instead.

I'm currently at a university that deployed a laptop program and there is sooo much more you can do with 200 dollars worth of electronics more.

I guess I come from somewhere where we don't have so much disposable income that we can get a Kindle in addition to our normal Laptop which students inevitably have.

Kindle Not Ready for Textbooks... (2, Insightful)

automag (834164) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890519)

People who say the DX will be great for textbooks have clearly never used a Kindle. I am an owner of both the K1 and the K2 and there are many things that it does exceedingly well. Unfortunately the things that it does NOT do well are exactly the things that students need to work both quickly and efficiently. What things? Well for starters:

1. Page numbers. The Kindle doesn't have page numbers like a traditional book... Instead it uses page numbering system that is fluid based upon font size. Using the smallest font you might be at location 3642, while using the largest font may mean (though you're at the exact same spot in the book) you could be at location 5681. Confusing? You bet. There is currently NO WAY to specify an absolute page number for the Kindle and no way to sync pages to a paper-based book. This is annoying, but manageable when using the Kindle to read a novel (or even a non-fiction book), but with a textbook the minute a professor asks the class to refer to page 542, the Kindle user is screwed.

2. Index and Table of Contents. With a 'real' textbook if you need to flip to the ToC or index to find something it may take a few seconds initially, but you stick a finger in the page and flipping back and forth is easy. Find yourself flipping to a section or the ToC often? Stick a post-it, or even a pencil in there and you can flip back and forth what amounts to instantly. With the Kindle it takes a second to reset the page every single time you change pages. Flip to the ToC = 1 second. Flip back = another second. Don't know quite what you're looking for, or have a lot of different pages to check through? Those seconds really start to add up. God forbid you have to navigate to a link in the middle of a page, 'cause the 5-way pointer works, but not quickly.

3. Highlights and note taking. Both highlighting and note taking on the Kindle are rudimentary at best. Highlighting in a real book = grabbing a pen and swiping. You can even use different colors to mean different things- instant metaprocessing! Can't do that with a Kindle.

Highlighting with a Kindle = opening the main menu and selecting 'highlight.' Then navigate to the first word of the section you want to highlight and click the 5-way-switch. Then navigate to the last word of the section you want to highlight and click the 5-way-switch. 'Just like that,' you've highlighted something. It's the same procedure to make a note, with the added 'bonus' that you now get to use... the keyboard. Yay. Imagine taking notes on your cellphone... 'Cause that's what writing a note on the Kindle is like. And forget about math or hard sciences... You'll never write that new equation the prof just scrawled on the board in your Kindle. Donâ(TM)t even bother trying. Finally, if you ever want to later review a note, you need to navigate to a little supertext number on the section you highlighted in order to even see what you wrote. Forget about scanning the margins for something you wrote during a study session...

Paradigm shifting devices are great when the paradigm being shifted to makes things easier and/or better. The Kindle is a positive paradigm shift for those of us who read a lot and want a more seamless (and cheaper) way to make purchases from Amazon.com. On the other hand, I don't see a positive shift for students who want to use the Kindle with their textbooks... itâ(TM)s just too cumbersome and slow. Fail.

Resell eBooks? (1)

Luthair (847766) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890685)

The most important question before the Kindle should be used, can these eTextbooks be resold and loaned to other students?

If not, then this is a definite step in the wrong direction, textbooks are far too expensive and would probably get much worse if used wasn't an option.

Burning Money (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890791)

Under the pilot program, $60,000 will reportedly be used to provide 50 lucky Princeton students with $489 Kindle DX devices loaded with materials for three courses.

50 * $489 is $24,450. Sounds like Amazon is even luckier than the students, since Princeton is spending $60,000 on $25,000 worth of Kindles.

Re:Burning Money (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892597)

However they're loaded with materials for 3 courses.

3 courses * 50 students = 150 textbooks.

$35,000 / 150 textbooks = $233.33 / textbook

Taking that into consideration, the expense seems more reasonable.

Re:Burning Money (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#27893245)

$233 per digital textbook copy seems reasonable?

Re:Burning Money (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27893309)

Well, no, not really. But being a college student myself I know that high-end math books can easily go for $300 or $400. I don't feel like it's a fair market price but that is in the ballpark of the going cost for a textbook. Princeton is so expensive and well-to-do anyway that they probably don't mind assigning their students really expensive textbooks.

At the very least you can expect that a fair chunk of the $60,000 is going to publishers. Of course I don't doubt that Amazon will be making some money in this, there's obviously a conflict of interests, and giving a bunch of Ivy League students who are probably already rolling in money free digital gadgets seems kind of absurd too.

There is no free lunch (1)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892345)

to provide Kindles at no cost

"No cost". Right... I love it, actually — the spin-management at its finest. Here are two identical questions. Guess, which one is more likely to get a positive answer from a busy voter:

  1. Do you want to be able to get a free gizmo?
  2. Do you want to pay for somebody else's gizmo?

This is how taxpayers get suckered into paying for more and more stuff through the government — causing 30-70% to be wasted (through theft, incompetence, and — mostly — "legitimate" overhead), while handing the politicians (and their cronies) greater and greater control of our lives...

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