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In Trial, Kindles Disappointing University Users

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the write-on dept.

Books 247

Phurge writes "When Princeton announced its Kindle e-reader pilot program last May, administrators seemed cautiously optimistic that the e-readers would both be sustainable and serve as a valuable academic tool. But less than two weeks after 50 students received the free Kindle DX e-readers, many of them said they were dissatisfied and uncomfortable with the devices. 'I hate to sound like a Luddite, but this technology is a poor excuse of an academic tool,' said Aaron Horvath, a student in Civil Society and Public Policy. 'It's clunky, slow and a real pain to operate.' 'Much of my learning comes from a physical interaction with the text: bookmarks, highlights, page-tearing, sticky notes and other marks representing the importance of certain passages — not to mention margin notes, where most of my paper ideas come from and interaction with the material occurs,' he explained. 'All these things have been lost, and if not lost they're too slow to keep up with my thinking, and the "features" have been rendered useless.'"

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News? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576319)

Early generation of new technology has drawbacks. News at 11.

I HATE HATE HATE VISTA!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576875)

Yeah, I'm offtopic, and I know it, but SHIT - I need a fuckin' support group or something. Vista is terrrrrrible. How the F$#@! could they release such a F$#@! piece of sh** is beyond me. DAMNIT!! I've read every stupid manual on the Internet on how to fix this piece of shit, and it's made it slightly more bearable, but it still sucks!

EVERYBODY.... WAIT.... I (Vista) need to page this shit out to the pagefile even though virtual memory is set very reasonable, I've got the maximum allowable RAM for my OS (yet I'm only utilizing half) and I freeze every damn thing on the computer, including this guys (my) term paper! Wait, what am I paging? Well, I dunno! ARGH.

OH... MY... GOD... somebody please shoot me!!

(Yeah, you can say use linux, but advanced office features like tracking comments, graphs, etc just won't xfer over well, if at all)

What THE FUCK is this thing paging???

Sigh, Jebus - looks like the mouse is actually movable on my other computer now. Screw it, I'll post anyway.

Hello /.

Re:I HATE HATE HATE VISTA!! (0, Offtopic)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577135)

Uuuhhhh....Anonymous dude? XP Pro X64 is $139 [newegg.com] and you can use ALL the RAM you could ever want (I am currently running 8Gb on the CPU and 1Gb on the GPU) and I haven't had any trouble running anything on it except for REALLY old, like Win95 era 16 bit crap on it. If your hardware doesn't have 64 bit drivers you can pick up XP Pro 32 for $134 [newegg.com] or XP Home for $89 [newegg.com] .

So please, don't punish yourself with Vista. I'm sure whatever you did in this life or the last you are REALLY sorry for and don't deserve the "wow, this makes WinME look good!" suffering that is Vista. Just forgive yourself and get a copy of XP. Your sanity and your hairline will thank you for it. Oh, and if you have one of those POS PCs/laptops where they give you ONLY Vista drivers? Just use SIW [gtopala.com] to find out who made the actual hardware (I'm sure it uses bog standard parts like Realtek and Broadcom) and then hit up driverguide.

Remember, the Internet is your friend, so use it wisely. I know this works because I have exorcised the demon Vista off of many a Dell and HP including laptops and while the drivers may end up a mix of OEMs, they all actually run XP now and run quite nicely, if I do say so myself. So don't suffer the hell that is Vista, be kind to yourself and go back to the goodness that is XP. And if your machine has X64 drivers you can just bypass Win7 while you are at it, as it will be quite awhile before XP reaches EOL, and I seriously doubt anyone will be using 128Gb of RAM by 2014, at least not on anything but a major server. So release your anger grasshopper, and let go of the evil OS. Life is too short to risk a coronary dealing with the soul sucking evilness that is Vista.

Re:I HATE HATE HATE VISTA!! (0, Offtopic)

VoltageX (845249) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577221)

Is there any difference between SIW and Belarc Advisor?

Re:I HATE HATE HATE VISTA!! (0, Offtopic)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577497)

Vista isn't that bad. But getting it for anything other than DirectX 10 is a bad decision. I really wish Microsoft had the balls to sell DirectX as a separate product, then maybe people would respect them more.

Re:I HATE HATE HATE VISTA!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29577581)

I run Windows 7. it was free as a beta for a while and will be released soon. Fixes all the bullshit of Vista.

As for graphs, I do 100% of my graphs in Linux. I wouldn't even know where to begin on Windows for some serious graphing applications.

Re:News? (3, Funny)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576971)

But the DRM in it is state-of-art!

Re:News? (4, Insightful)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577475)

But the DRM in it is state-of-art!

You might think you're joking... but global take-up of this technology is never going to happen until the US does something about its byzantine copyright laws. Amazon is perfectly able to sell an international customer a paper copy of most books, but is usually unable (or unwilling) to sell him a digital version. Which is, I guess, why I have yet to see a Kindle here in Australia.

Furthermore, when US publishers somehow manage to claim copyright on the work of a British author long after he is dead and his work has passed into the public domain in his own country (I'm thinking of George Orwell here, from a recent /. discussion), we see commercial greed not only crippling freedom of trade and expression, but unnecessarily complicating the lives of publishers, distributors and consumers.

Re:News? (3, Interesting)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577627)

The Kindle isn't working well? Good. Let it burn in Hell.

As a reader who is losing vision and the ability to read, the Kindle and US copyright bullshit seriously pisses me off. I no longer "read" books, but instead convert them to audio-books which I play at around 500 words per minute, using the totally awesome Eloquence TTS (the old ViaVoice speech synthesiser). I don't mind paying for the e-books, but Amazon and friends are leaving me high and dry. Their built-in voice in Kindle is completely useless, because it wont play fast and wouldn't be understandable even if it were, and it's not even enabled for many books. It's torture having to listen to it.

Fortunately, the Microsoft Reader format has been broken, with converlit [convertlit.com] program. I buy all my e-books from ebooks.com, and then convert them with some Linux utilities, and enjoy listening to them on my phone. However, I'm a big slashdot sort of geek, and this sort of hacking is natural for me. The vast majority of visually impaired individuals are stuck with no good solutions.

Every freaking building in the US that serves the public has to put a ramp to its door for the disabled. Why does Amazon get to slam the door in our face? FUCK AMAZON.

Re:News? (0)

iamacat (583406) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577513)

Once people get used to certain technology, they tend to resist learning anything significantly different. News at 11:30.

Why? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576325)

Were they uncomfortable and dissatisfied when their assignments vanished shortly before their due dates?

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576329)

Teacher... Amazon ate my homework!

Actually reminds me of... (2, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576377)

That old story of NASA spending millions of dollars to develop a pen that works in space, while the Russians just shrugged and used pencils. Mind you, I wonder what the wood/graphite shavings would do to the habitat, and specifically the air filters...

Re:Actually reminds me of... (4, Informative)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576427)

Re:Actually reminds me of... (2, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577171)

It doesn't matter whether it's true. The important thing in this anecdote is that it highlights the different thought processes concerning new technology, and doing that, it's believable enough to sustain itself decades after it's been proven false.

Western cultures have this tendency to automatically assume that new technology will be better, and spend money on it before realizing the obvious shortcomings. Here, it's the fact that books are not read-only, even if they have little extra storage capacity, and many students rely on that.

Re:Actually reminds me of... (4, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577277)

One more anecdote to reinforce my point: Once upon a time, I had a real programmer teaching me C. He did not let students pass who couldn't solve a small problem (like removing the next-to-last element of a singly-linked list) using only pen and paper. Every lecture, the first thing we did was to turn our computers off, and do one of these problems. Then he did the same at the blackboard.

Guess what: we learned more from that than the rest of the lectures and the books combined. If the basic learning process is missing, technology doesn't give it back.

Re:Actually reminds me of... (1)

pleappleappleap (1182301) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577575)

I barely touched a computer getting my CS degree. Most of my assignments were handed in as code (in the specified language) hand-written on paper in pencil.

Re:Actually reminds me of... (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577643)

But did you have someone experienced show you his own thought process immediately afterwards? That was the valuable part of the lecture.

I'll get off your lawn now.

Re:Actually reminds me of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576537)

Mind you, I wonder what the wood/graphite shavings would do to the habitat, and specifically the air filters...

It's like watching Moonwatcher tossing around those bones in 2001 ;)

Re:Actually reminds me of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576651)

On long-duration space flights it would clog up the filters. And that's precisely why the Russians use Fisher Space Pens and not pencils, contrary to that myth.

Re:Actually reminds me of... (3, Informative)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576841)

As will no doubt be pointed out to you at length, that is an urban myth. Also, they don't and never did use graphite pencils in space. Graphite is a conductor - can you imagine what would happen if you had graphite dust floating around a spacecraft?

Re:Actually reminds me of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29577041)

they would have used grease mechanical pencils

People who write in textbooks... (2, Insightful)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576333)

...are the scum of the earth. I can't stand that! Take separate notes! Respect the text for future users! And they always write stupid crap in'em, too.

Besides, they should've given'em to some real college students, like engineering majors. I'd love to stop carrying a pile 8 inches thick of textbooks around the campus every freakin' day. I mean, that can't be good for your back.

Re:People who write in textbooks... (4, Funny)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576357)

shuddap! the weight builds character, and prepares your posture for a lifetime of grovelling which every engineer needs when speaking to MBAs.

Re:People who write in textbooks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576557)

would carrying heavy books really hurt your back or just make it stronger?

Re:People who write in textbooks... (5, Funny)

slick_rick (193080) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576379)

Oh come on, everyone knows the hand scrawled notes in the margins is where you find the most interesting spells.

Re:People who write in textbooks... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576421)

Sometimes the margin is just too narrow to contain your magnificent proof. Therefore you can just claim credit for it for 400 years.

Re:People who write in textbooks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576433)

Try this out for your books http://www.briggs-riley.com/category/productDetail.aspx?id=Wheeled-Compact-Tote_U214

Re:People who write in textbooks... (5, Interesting)

txoof (553270) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576447)

People who write in textbooks are the scum of the earth. I can't stand that! Take separate notes! Respect the text for future users!

You have a choice when you get to the bookstore, you can pick the text that is brand new, the one that was obviously used by the guy that dropped out in the fifth week and is nearly pristine save for a few beer stains, you can pick the one that is loaded with all kinds of great notes, stickies and highlights of the most important stuff or something in between. It's your choice. I for one would rather stand on the toes of giants than try to reinvent the wheel.

Re:People who write in textbooks... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576473)

I don't get this obsession with writing in books. You imply that only the best students mark all over a book. On the contrary, some of the best students don't need to go highlighting every single thought. By using the highlights of others, I think you place too much faith in the intelligence of mankind and, in particular, students.

Re:People who write in textbooks... (4, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576515)

Only the rich kids are able to buy their own shiny new overpriced books, especially in this economy.

The rest of us may choose to add to the scrawlings already written in our moldy piss-stained second editions when we're not consulting the handful of pirated PDF's and HTML help files.

Depends on your school (2, Interesting)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576835)

A fair number of my professors photocopied the relevant sections from their own books and handed them out to the class. One mentioned that he made enough selling it elsewhere that he didn't need to burden his own students when we'd only need a few chapters from it.

Re:People who write in textbooks... (1)

setagllib (753300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576519)

I agree. The best students I know don't even buy the books, let alone write in them, because they're actually using the material in practice (hobby, job, overkilling lab work, etc.) and internalise it better than note-taking and highlighting ever could. They look lazy until you see what they can actually do.

Re:People who write in textbooks... (5, Funny)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577109)

If medical students practice at home, we call it "phychopathic serial killer". Not all (or in fact; most) studies can't really be practiced as a hobby.

Re:People who write in textbooks... (4, Interesting)

macshit (157376) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576661)

By the same token though, I don't understand the obsession that some people seem to have with keeping their textbooks pristine...

Clean books are nice, but so are the memory aids provided by one's own notes/bookmarks/etc.

I admit, I don't like others' notes in my books, because they always seem completely wrong, and are merely distracting, not useful.

I think notes and marks (and bookmark, etc) in books are mostly useful as pointers into your existing mental representation of the text, and sort of as a way of physically representing the act of reading -- e.g., it's easier to ensure you fully read the text instead of zoning out and skimming bits, if you're "actively" involved with it. [The same is true of keeping external notes, but that's even more work; which one prefers seems down to individual taste.]

An e-reader with a well-done touch-pen interface that allowed actually writing in the margins, saving the notes externally, keeping multiple note layers, adding cross references, ... etc, might be even better than a physical book in some ways, but it doesn't sound like the kindle tech is up to it... (the speed of things like page flipping is also an important issue -- I find I flip around much more often reading academic/technical material than e.g. fiction)

Re:People who write in textbooks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29577729)

Hell, there were a couple courses in college where I didn't even take the shrink wrap off the book until the night before the first class. By junior year, I generally tried to make it a point to split books with my friends who were in the same course.

As for highlights and notes in used books, they tended to annoy me, as the rationale for what was highlighted or notated often seemed at utter odds with my own methods of reading and interpreting the text. And I was usually set by just reading through the text once carefully. Though, I understand that making such annotations works for other people and is important for their learning process. Which is something the Kindle, at least at this state, clearly cannot fully replicate.

Personally, I have no interest in the concept of a Kindle-like device, simply because of an attachment to the physical structure of books. Give me a paper book, an audiobook, or don't bother.

Re:People who write in textbooks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576883)

I can do whatever I want to a book I own. fuck you if you don't like it.

Re:People who write in textbooks... (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577229)

I for one would rather stand on the toes of giants than try to reinvent the wheel.

But if you have reiterated the process, you are well prepared to invent Wheel 2.0.

CC.

Re:People who write in textbooks... (3, Interesting)

samurai54 (1645989) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577243)

Personally, I love the people who write in all of my textbooks. It is nice to read the notes that are accurate, but to me, the inaccurate notes are even more helpful. Those tend to be the ones that really capture my attention. I always remember fixing the last person's mistakes, but I have much more difficulty remembering the definitions and theories that i quickly jostled done in my notebook.

Re:People who write in textbooks... (4, Funny)

Rocketship Underpant (804162) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577259)

I agree. Harry Potter could never have made that potion on his first try if he had taken a new textbook!

Re:People who write in textbooks... (4, Funny)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577891)

I for one would rather stand on the toes of giants than try to reinvent the wheel.

Toes ?
Scared of heights are you ?

Re:People who write in textbooks... (0, Troll)

new2_60605 (1328721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576689)

...are the scum of the earth. I can't stand that! Take separate notes! Respect the text for future users! And they always write stupid crap in'em, too.

Besides, they should've given'em to some real college students, like engineering majors. I'd love to stop carrying a pile 8 inches thick of textbooks around the campus every freakin' day. I mean, that can't be good for your back.

Dude i paid for i,t ill fucking write it in.... if you have the cash to pony up for a book its yours to shit on if you want to... the fact is ur lucky if you get half from the book store so do what you want with it before you get raped trying to sell it the value does not go up if you leave it unmarked.... for those of us who want to save money on used books remember just that we decided to be cheap asses and get something second hand... beggers cant be choosers.

Re:People who write in textbooks... (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576797)

Seriously, nothing pisses me off more than reading a textbook that someone wrote in / highlighted in. It's rather distracting from trying to actually read what's in the book.

The comment about cutting down on weight for real majors is pretty spot on too.......I'd love to have had some wimpy English major or some such where I didn't have colossal books to lug around all the time.

Re:People who write in textbooks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29577539)

Seriously, nothing pisses me off more than reading a textbook that someone wrote in / highlighted in. It's rather distracting from trying to actually read what's in the book.

The comment about cutting down on weight for real majors is pretty spot on too.......I'd love to have had some wimpy English major or some such where I didn't have colossal books to lug around all the time.

Yes, those wimpy English majors whose sole major involves...books...They don't have anything to carry around, do they? And no, I wasn't an English major.

I disagree... (1)

msimm (580077) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577103)

While marking up a book may decrease it's resale value considerably it doesn't decrease the value of the information it contains. I used to stop in at our local thrift-store (urban) and purchase used textbooks on subjects that interested me on the cheap. They has all sorts of scribbles, but for the most part the information was just as good as the day they'd bought it.

Re:People who write in textbooks... (2, Insightful)

xtracto (837672) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577495)

...are the scum of the earth. I can't stand that! Take separate notes! Respect the text for future users! And they always write stupid crap in'em, too.

I more or less agree with that, but only in the case when the book is not of your property (e.g., form a library). I almost never write in any of my dead tree books, however I can understand that sometimes it good to write some "afterthought" you got from reading a paragraph (which makes it easier to understand), that way, the next time you read it, you just have to glance at your previous writings.

Now, I like this snippet from the summary:

bookmarks, highlights, page-tearing, sticky notes and other marks representing the importance of certain passages â"

That is one of the reasons why I still print all the papers (I do research) I obtain.

There is no reader program (even in standard PC) that allows you to handle a document the way the dead-tree format allows you. For example, there's no way to "bookmark" a specific place in a PDF (there are "bookmark" fields, but they used for the "table of contents". Writing annotations is cumbersome and underlying is impossible unless you get a paid version (and is an awkward process).

So far, I have tested FoxitPDF viewer, adobe reader and these days I have started to use PDF-XChange [docu-track.com]

, this one I like because I can have several documents open in one window (tabbed-interface); this way I can have different PDF windows open with different research "themes".

Besides, they should've given'em to some real college students, like engineering majors. I'd love to stop carrying a pile 8 inches thick of textbooks around the campus every freakin' day. I mean, that can't be good for your back.

Re:People who write in textbooks... (1)

ildon (413912) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577799)

If you don't want notes in the margins quit being cheap and buy new instead of used.

I bought a Kindle in August (5, Informative)

freshfromthevat (135461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576359)

I sent it back in September.
The navigation was atrocious and slow, the books I would read cost more in electronic form than in paper form and had much more severe licensing than the paper form. Translating PDF media to Kindle form resulted in something much less readable than on a laptop. The web browser was pathetic. The display wasn't as high contrast as a 40 yr old paperback. The keyboard letter labels are too small.
The darn thing was way too expensive for what it was.

Re:I bought a Kindle in August (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576509)

That is so depressing to hear. I was excited to get a Kindle. I have hundreds of books, and a lot of them I can get as PDFs. I'm also a pilot, and a nice software developer put up free approach plates and Airport/Facility Directories (www.pdfplates.com) formatted for the Kindle (being able to get your flight docs electronically is a big deal, much less paper to deal with). Sad day =( Some day I guess, just not yet.

Re:I bought a Kindle in August (2, Insightful)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576531)

TooMuchToDo, I think you should keep reading comments here. You'll find that many of us like our Kindles. Find a friend that has one, try it, and decide for yourself. It takes some getting used to but it is now my preferred method for reading novels.

Re:I bought a Kindle in August (2, Insightful)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576617)

You would probably like the kindle then. The current problem with the kindle is that they're not really built for the academic environment, in which reading is very much a task of information management. Without notes, highlighting, cross referencing, reference managers, a decent tagging scheme, a decent folder scheme, meta information sharing (references), and an open system to fill in the blanks, the kindle is going to do poorly in terms of that task; Especially with the comparable prices of eeepcs (cheap, tiny, sufficient battery life, and can incorporate all of the above). Now if you have many books that you use for leisure reading or the occasional reference the kindle, or any ereader for that matter, would be appropriate for you. As for me, I have specific uses in mind, and will wait until they hash out all the usability issues, or until someone else beats them to it (hopefully with an open system).

A different opinion. (4, Interesting)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576385)

I got a kindle last semester and got E-books for all my text books. I really enjoyed not having to lug around books from class to class. There are a few things that are not quite as convenient as text books but over all I prefer my kindle. The sheer weight difference is just that staggering. I use to never bring personal books, with me when I went to my classes, it just wasn't worth it. Now I have a large number of fiction and other light reading books I can read a bit of during short down times.

Re:A different opinion. (4, Interesting)

R.Mo_Robert (737913) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576805)

You're lucky: zero of my textbooks are available in electronic form. Additionally, I carried my Kindle around in my backpack for one day, in a case, and apparently a glass (?!) layer below the screen developed a crack, which Amazon refuses to place under the standard warranty.

When I did use mine, I often found it too slow at turning pages (not that I do it frequently, but it's nice to be able to quickly flip through pages to find the one you want). PDF reading was decent at best but often practically unusuable--and I have a DX. (It works best if you make your own PDFs and format them specifically to the screen dimensions.) Not that any of this matters now; now I have a $489 paperweight.

Note to future owners: get "accident" protection from SquareTrade or, if you must, Amazon itself. It will be worth it (although I'm not convinced I was rough at all with mine). Also, be sure to check availability if you plan to use it for any particular book; not everyone will be as lucky as the parent poster. Theoretically, the weight reduction would be nice; practically, you probably can't get every last book electronically, and you'll also have to deal with the fact that you're carrying a fragile sheet of glass in your bag instead.

novels. (2, Informative)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576389)

I have one. It's great for novels. I've read ten sci-fi novels on it so far. Reading from the first page to the last is no problem, and having features like instant dictionary look-up is wonderful. But I'm not sure they would be so good for text books, where you're flipping back and forth a lot. To navigate any more than forward/back, you need to use a cumbersome, slow joystick thingy.

Perhaps future Kindles with touch-screens would be good enough. The search feature would be pretty useful for academic purposes compared to dead-tree. But he's right: having to use that joystick to navigate in "random" directions (rather than next/previous page) is a pain.

(oh and a bonus for the slashdot crowd: the Kindle is just Linux running some java reader app. you can actually install a full blown Ubuntu system via the USB port if you like.)

Re:novels. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576425)

figures.. why do they insist on writing java apps for a slow embedded board? idiotic.

Kindle is the future! (0, Troll)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576397)

If you are not prepared for the FUTURE it must be because your TEACHERS at your FAILED SCHOOL did nto belive in success and instead promoted your to be a the FAILURE. Because in the FUTURE we will not think we will actuate the full potential of successful entrepreneur individuals, with KINDLE it is easy as 1 2 3! Books are for bozoes: the future CEOs of tomorrow's future dont read they KINDLE for optimum success and innovation with powerful persuasion! If you believe in wealth and believe in yourself, with a KINDLE you can succeed beyond your wildest dreames. I belive in the power of innovative individuals where everyone unlocks the potentiol of genius withinb their personality. So I belive in preparation for success in tomorrow's future, which is KINDLE.

Re:Kindle is the future! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576605)

with SIX kindles assembled into one, the ALCHEMIST may forge a TIME CUBE. The TIME CUBE is GODS TRUTH. It is EVIL to read FALSE time books! Simple KINDLE DIVINITY is the TIME CUBE. do you REALIZE earth itself is an E-BOOK? Only through TEMPORAL HARMONY can the TIME-KINDLE spiral universe destiny? You SnotBrains will know hell for ignoring TimeCube. I do not promote or suggest anyone killing you, but you are unfit to live on Earth.

I wouldn't replace my books with a Kindle (3, Insightful)

NoPantsJim (1149003) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576401)

Not my textbooks, anyway.

I thoroughly enjoyed the time I've spent messing around with other people's kindles. I plan to buy one, but I just don't see them working for textbooks.

During my time in college, I never sold back one of my old textbooks, because I always "personalized" them so much during the semester by writing in, highlighting, and generally abusing all of them. Each and every one still sits on my bookcase, and I still reference them occasionally, as making them completely un-sell-back-able has made them exceptionally easy for me to use.

I think the student is right. You can't fly through a Kindle e-book the same way you can with a solid textbook. I suspect the Kindle is just made for more linear reading.

But perhaps great for books with problem sets... (1)

rwade (131726) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576655)

I'm not sure about the rest of the group, but my college math books would have been great candidates for digitization. In all of my math courses:

  • Three semesters of calculus
  • Linear algebra
  • diff eq

I relied on the professor to teach. The books themselves were fairly useless -- the examples were always too simple and the explanations usually had a lot of hand-waving. In any case, I generally left the books on the shelf until homework time, when they came out so that I could copy and evaluate the problem sets for practice.

Never wrote in the books, didn't need to feel a connection with them. Just copied the problems out of them.

Re:But perhaps great for books with problem sets.. (1)

NoPantsJim (1149003) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576691)

I had the exact opposite experience. Went through all those courses in 2 years of aerospace engineering before I jumped ship to air traffic control (had calc 1 done from high school AP). My textbooks were my bible. I found that if I needed to reference something, I could usually open the book and land on the right page within a few seconds of grabbing it off the shelf. I sincerely doubt it is that easy to find info in a Kindle book that quickly. As I said in my first post, the Kindle seems great for linear subject matter like books, but for non-linear stuff like a textbook I can see it just being a huge hassle.

Re:But perhaps great for books with problem sets.. (1)

rwade (131726) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576727)

I had the exact opposite experience...My textbooks were my bible. I found that if I needed to reference something, I could usually open the book and land on the right page within a few seconds of grabbing it off the shelf.

I suppose you just had useful textbooks. How novel...

Re:But perhaps great for books with problem sets.. (1)

NoPantsJim (1149003) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576757)

Or shitty teachers.

Re:But perhaps great for books with problem sets.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29577415)

I like mine for casual reading and probably wouldn't prefer it right now for reference material partly because of how hard it is to flip back and forth between sections.

But I bet ebook makers learn from the shortcomings and come up with a UI that makes it easier to access bookmarks. Maybe a vertical panel with user-labeled tabs. Touch the tab you want and it jumps instantly to the right spot. Also a history list like browsers have, so you can get to where you were three jumps back without hitting back-back-back. They'll need touch screens and faster CPUs, not far off I'm sure.

One thing about the annotations that the trial students may have missed -- you could *share* them with each other. (Then again, being Princeton, they're probably too competitive for that sort of thing.)

Re:But perhaps great for books with problem sets.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576759)

Same here

Re:I wouldn't replace my books with a Kindle (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576747)

I'd agree. I like my Kindle, in addition to novels, its great for weekly magazines that are mostly text as well (The Economist and Newsweek for me). However, it'll take a lot more to take over my physical textbooks.

Still, what would be nice is if I could pay an extra ~$10 for kindle or PDF versions -- while they can't replace a good physical copy, I like being able to have most of the things I need to do work in one bag. Since I move between home/office/coffee shops/out-of-town travel I have a bad habit of keeping all my references in my trunk...

Solving the Interaction Problem (4, Insightful)

txoof (553270) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576405)

The quote in TFA sums up my objections to eBooks as replacements for texts fairly well. Bookmarks, dog-ears, margin notes and all the other ways we interact with books are more valuable than you might think at first. For example, I lent out one of my favorite cookbooks; for a while it looked like the borrower had lost the book. At first I didn't think this was too much of a tragedy as I could order another copy online cheaper than the original. Then it hit me, all of my notes, records, adjustments and comments were lost! All of the stains, broken spine and notes have a more value than I could put a dollar on. Without a way to incorporate that kind of interaction into an eBook, I fail to see how I could be coerced to switch to a reader.

I believe the technology exists to allow interaction at the level that I want, but no one has offered a reader that even comes close yet. It seems rather trivial to add a touch screen, or even a small tablet that allows hand-written sketches or notes to be added to the pages. The Kindle allows virtual dog-ears, but they're hard to search and you don't get the visual interaction of a real book. I can run my fingers over the edge of the book and quickly find the dog-ear that I left 1/3 of the way into the book.

What kinds of features would you like to see on an eBook to make it closer to a real book? What smart ideas do you have that would allow a user to interact, annotate and generally use a virtual book like a paper book? The most important on my list are margin notes, underlining, highlighting (and I mean highlight, not inverse text), sticky notes (I have no idea how this would work), and dog ears that are easily locatable.

When eBooks can offer a greater level of interaction than we have today, students will flock to them. Who wouldn't rather carry one Kindle over a chemistry, calculus and circuits book to class? I keep hoping the next reader will be the one, but we're just not there yet. Perhaps we never will be. Captain Picard still kept dead-tree books around even though he had those nifty tablet thingiees.

Re:Solving the Interaction Problem (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577069)

It basically comes down to cost. Yeah, ebooks are kind of annoying and there may not be a way to fix that, but are they willing to drop the cost $30-$40 per ebook? As a student, that was a tradeoff I would have been willing to make.

Re:Solving the Interaction Problem (1)

gordguide (307383) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577805)

" ... What kinds of features would you like to see on an eBook to make it closer to a real book? ..."

Well, mostly, I want it to be made of paper.

This isn't the only slow device... (1)

hydroxy (863799) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576437)

'... and if not lost they're too slow to keep up with my thinking, and the "features" have been rendered useless.'

I feel like this with just about every portable device these days. Am I the only one?

Re:This isn't the only slow device... (4, Insightful)

mpoulton (689851) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576503)

'... and if not lost they're too slow to keep up with my thinking, and the "features" have been rendered useless.' I feel like this with just about every portable device these days. Am I the only one?

That's about right. My iPhone is disastrous in that respect. Why? Because the developers put flashy graphics above UI speed. Any display change on an iPhone requires a brief rendered screen change effect - a sweep, or dissolve, or fly-away. The effect may only take a tenth of a second, but the device takes a full second or more to process it! Every button press, a pop-up graphic of the button. WHY???? There is more than enough processing power in all modern portable devices to handle all the operational functions of the device and to run the UI faster than any human could require. The temptation to use all that processing power to push the boundaries with chrome is rendering the devices even slower than previous generations of handheld technology, regardless of the improved hardware. Mobile developers: Back to basics, folks. Focus on what matters.

Amen (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576439)

I've been saying this for years... it's just not the same. You really do *lose* something in electronic form, you just can't interact with the knowledge like you can with a good old fashioned book. I hope real books never go away!

I prefer books over tech (4, Insightful)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576465)

I am the sort of person that loves tech, to an excess most people would say. My house is fully wired, I have a patch panel and rack cabinet in the garage. I can stream media to any room in the house and have at least 3 computers running at any one time (not including virtuals). Everything that can be computerised from my air con to the lights has been. However I will take a real book anyday over reading it on a screen or an e-reader device, whether it is a textbook or just a novel, can't explain it completely but it is just a "better" experience to me using a real book.

Plastic Logic (2, Interesting)

kars (100858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576469)

I'm hoping the E-reader from Plastic Logic ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic_Logic [wikipedia.org] ) will be a great improvement. Its display is said to be A4-sized, which would give it a diagonal of a little over 14". The biggest problem with most readers still seems to be the software, though. Either it's chock-full of DRM, or it's seriously lacking in features. Hopefully this one'll be different.

I like my Kindle (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576505)

My life long hobby has been, and always will be, reading novels. I like my Kindle because I am never caught without a book and I no longer have to pack multiple books when traveling. For me, it works.

I'm not surprised that it is not that great for student text books. But, guess what! It does not have to solve all problems for all readers to be successful.

Conserve paper? Conserve plastic! (3, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576539)

The University had announced last May it was partnering with Amazon.com, founded by Jeff Bezos â(TM)86, to provide students and faculty members with the e-readers as part of a sustainability initiative to conserve paper.

Why would anybody want to conserve paper? It's a very renewable resource. Tree/grass grows. Becomes paper. Paper rots as soon as book is no longer deemed useful.

If anything, we should be conserving plastic and chemicals. Those are NOT renewable. Mine limited fossil fuels. Make plastic. Plastic still exists hundreds of thousands of years after usefulness of the object has expired.

I'll take the real books, thanks!

Re:Conserve paper? Conserve plastic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576565)

Mass of textbooks and the subsequent costs of transport over time prob offset this.

Re:Conserve paper? Conserve plastic! (1)

Macgrrl (762836) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576611)

A significant % of paper is produced using pulp from old growth forests. Even when farmed forests are used, the types of rapid growth trees used are often vastly different than the native ecosystem of the environments in which they are planted.

The mantra for ecologically friendly use of resources is "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle". It's always better to use less of a resource then more.

That said, I have not performed any analysis on the equivalent paper footprint to one Kindle. I suspect it is greater than 2 dozen books, potentially quite a bit more.

Re:Conserve paper? Conserve plastic! (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576817)

Plastic still exists hundreds of thousands of years after usefulness of the object has expired.

Last I checked, every single example of 100,000-year-old plastic that was no longer useful had long since been dug up out of its landfill and recycled.

You think like a ReThuglican Jew (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576833)

You think like a ReThuglican Jew

Re:Conserve paper? Conserve plastic! (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577251)

It's a very renewable resource.
Same reason cotton and wool are not considered "green" products but hemp is.

Not "defective by design" (2, Insightful)

Selanit (192811) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576567)

Somebody tagged this "defectivebydesign", but that's not accurate here. The problem is that it was designed for mostly pleasure-reading, not for academic study (which, as the student pointed out, usually involves highlighting, marginal notations, and so on). I rather doubt the wicked Kindle designers set out to thwart undergraduates. It's just that's not really what they were shooting for. Me, I'm waiting for an e-Reader that supports a wide variety of formats smoothly, and has a much better refresh rate. My Mom has a Sony e-Reader, which runs Linux and worked pretty well when I tried it. The main problem with it is that I read pretty fast, and so I spent lots of time waiting for the screen to re-draw. When they've got the e-ink refresh rate up to civilized standards (say, 500 ms for a full screen, maximum), then I'll be interested.

Another college student with a kindle (3, Insightful)

wesslen (1644543) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576571)

As a college student I don't really carry much sentimental value towards textbooks. I hate them because they're expensive and I would love for a cheaper replacement. Unfortunately the Kindle is not it.

I have a kindle and I love it for when I'm traveling and just reading a novel or a few articles but I tried using it as a textbook replacement and it was miserable. The difficulty of trying to multitask switching between pen and paper and scrolling pages with the kindle is too time consuming and frustrating.

If future e-readers and e-textbooks can integrate interactivity more effectively I might give them another try, but until then I'll take my chopped up trees please.

I Prefer Not To Buy More Crap (1)

BeaverAndrew (1645577) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576603)

So now on top of paying pretty much the same cost for a textbook, I'm also expected to shell out a bunch of money on a Kindle to read them on? Honestly, if I'm going to get a digital copy of a book, I'll just use my laptop. If I am given a Kindle as some sort of experiment, whatever, but I honestly don't plain on dropping any dime on an independent device. Lets be serious, I hardly read the books I have. Just kidding. But seriously.

Value extracted from cost? (1)

srothroc (733160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576711)

You often hear people who have bought Kindles extolling the virtues of the unit; now I wonder how much of that comes from an attempt to squeeze value out of the machine and avoid buyer's regret by justifying the cost, even if through rose-tinted glasses. Despite all of the good press about the Kindle from a number of sources, celebrity and otherwise, you find cases like this where people have been GIVEN the Kindle and don't have much good to say about the experience.

Good for reading, not study (1)

Domomojo (886220) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576717)

I like my DX for casual reading. It's nice to carry a large number of books in a small package. I can easily convert text online to PRC files to read later without printing stuff out all the time. I like having a built in dictionary and text search, plus the wireless connection to Wikipedia is useful. The E-ink display is not as good as real paper of course, but I can read it for a long time and forget about the device, which is something I can't do on a back lit LCD. But, I find it hard to use for school. I don't really make a lot of notes in the margins or highlight stuff so that loss doesn't bother me. I just miss the ease of flipping pages. When I study I constantly refer back to preceding pages to look at diagrams or to reread things. I jump around a lot. This is very annoying to do on the Kindle, especially if you are viewing a large PDF when turning pages becomes impossible to do quickly. I'm sure devices in the future will solve this problem. So for straight reading, especially fiction or web essays/articles I love it. For study, no thanks.

Linear Reading (4, Interesting)

digitalderbs (718388) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576729)

I've had a kindle 2 since it came out, and it's great for any book that is read front to back. A couple of my books are referential -- like a copy of the Bible -- and it's a nightmare to use. The device is too slow to jump between pages, even with TOC links and search functions.

I've also read that the Kindle DX keyboard is next to useless.

I am probably alone. (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576777)

I've never written in a textbook, or any other book for that matter, whether I own it or not. I've never intentionally torn any pages. Instead, I've always tried, sometimes rather hard, to understand the text and the concepts behind it -- and then I move on.

Have I spent my entire life doing it wrong?

(Or, perhaps alternatively: Am a prime candidate for getting real use from a Kindle?)

Re:I am probably alone. (1)

Rockenreno (573442) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576857)

I am exactly the same way. I've tried highlighting and making notes, but it really just disconnects me further from the text. Long ago I realized that I can enjoy a story or even academic text far more by simply reading (and sometimes rereading) through it. All that said, I've owned a Kindle 2 for a few months and enjoy it thoroughly. It's not something I would buy to save money on reading or to replace textbooks, but I prefer my Kindle to a standard paperback. The weight and ease of page turning makes all the difference. Also, the display is amazing.

Slowness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576827)

is the basic problem. That couple of seconds waiting for the page to turn is deadly. I trained myself to click Next a few lines before the end of the page.

I really hate the way there is no indication that you've clicked a button. I'd hit Next, then wait, wait some more, decide I must have missed it and click again, then watch the screen flip instantly, meaning that I had clicked twice after all, and now I have to wait for it to turn AGAIN, then click BACK and wait for that. Accidental clicks are the same way: you never quite know when and where it's going to go.

There is other bad stuff (search is awful, making reference books useless; the "web browser" manages to be worse than the tiniest cell phone screen; the keyboard sucks rocks; about the only thing that works well is buying new books from Amazon) but the glacial pace is what killed it. From what I've seen an iPhone is way more usable and available for less (okay, not counting the contract, but you do get a phone and usable web browser.)

Re:Slowness (1)

herojig (1625143) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576983)

i agree with you on the iphone. But iPhone kindle does not allow you to make margin notes and the bookmark thingee is not working well on my phone. Looks like for real students (for now), the best thing still out there is a marker pen and a physical book. good luck to them!

iRex iLiad (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29576839)

I am an Australian, and as such Kindles are not viable for me, as they are not sold to Australian residents, and even if you get your hands on one, buying books is hard. Instead I purchased the only eBook reader officially sold in Australia - to my knowledge - the iRex iLiad.

I am loving it.

While it is not as high contrast as book paper, it is close. It is very readable, even for hours on end.

Navigating is made a lot easier by the stylus driven touch screen, though it is hampered slightly by the slow page/screen refresh. I find it more than livable though. It would be a lot worse without the stylus.

Once your in a book it is perfect, because you can change pages with the flick of a thumb. It is much better than holding a weighty book, and having to shuffle your arms around every minute or so to change pages.

One of the coolest features relevant to this article is the ability to scribble over books. With the stylus you can write on top of books, and your notes will be saved in a file associate with the book. It also has a highlight feature.

I must say though that I do not use it for academic research. Mostly personal research, and recreational reading. I personally think it would be fine for academia, but I don't have much experience in that field, so I can't really comment.

My only real complaint is the lack of books. The range is terrible, and the prices only 2% to 5% cheaper than normal books. As such I am getting to know and love the many public domain books. A great site I have found for this is: http://manybooks.net/

Re:iRex iLiad (1)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577867)

the iRex iLiad.

A pity the device itself is EUR 600. You can buy quite a few dead-tree books for that kind of cash.

Flattened Tree Mutilation Syndrome (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29576843)

Much of my learning comes from a physical interaction with the text: bookmarks, highlights, page-tearing, sticky notes and other marks representing the importance of certain passages -- not to mention margin notes,

I hate buying used textbooks after people like this had them. Such a book looks like a library and a paint store collided.
     

Re:Flattened Tree Mutilation Syndrome (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577605)

Seriously. It has gotten to the point that I don't want to buy used textbooks online because the stores misrepresent the level of graffiti in them.

Plenty of students prefer used textbooks that are all marked up with highlighter and notes because they just use them to study to avoid having to go to the effort to find the best passages. This is how you can coast through college with a 3.0 GPA with very little effort.

evaluation (1)

releaze (697041) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577153)

I wonder if an evaluation is part of the kindle-amazon program. Kindle could really profit from this, if they could design an e-reader that meets students 'desires'.
Sure, this generation might not entirly be won into the new technology (geez, we become old so quickly!) but the future students will.

Its also a matter of adaptation. New means, new ways. I don't know if we should make the e-reader as close as possible to the benefits of the real book, anyways. Arent there any 'digital' options that could make it a way better academic/learning in general tool?

bookmark a page in pdf document (2, Insightful)

extraqwert (983362) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577403)

By the way, does anybody know how to open a document in Linux, on a given page: (a) in gsview and (b) in acroread ? In evince there is an option --page-label . But how to do this in gsview and acroread?

Dear Amazon, (3, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577417)

I try le Kindle as you ask, but I must say le interface iz brokken. I try to write in ze margin, I really do, but she is too small for writing proofs! For me, Kindle is not ready, and I send it back. Sorry!

Best Wishes,
P. de Fermat

Not a panacea (1)

gnalre (323830) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577441)

I've just got myself a Sony e-book and while I like it it has limitations when compared to books.

Its great for books with a narrative such as novels, but for text books reference books it major limitations is the navigation. With these types of books I want to flip backwards and forwards across multiple pages. Find Index, locate Subject etc. You cannot do that easily with a e-book so locating information even with search tools becomes a pain.

Apparatus for paper-like user interaction (1)

knarf (34928) | more than 4 years ago | (#29577695)

That sounds like patent fodder to me!

"Apparatus and user-interaction method for paper-like electronic book interaction". An apparatus and input method for allowing the user of an electronic book reader device to interact with reading material in a way similar to that used with paper-based books.

What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for reading electronic book texts
2. The apparatus from claim 1 in which often-used pages get discolorations around the edges and borders.
3. The apparatus from claim 2 in which the device, when browsing through the pages of the loaded reading material pauses for a short (several milliseconds) period when reaching often-used pages.
4. The apparatus from claim 3 in which the user can make notes which can be attached to individual pages or groups of pages.
5. The apparatus from claim 4 in which the device presents these notes to the user by way of raised areas in a deformable input strip on the side of the device.
6. The apparatus of claim 5 where these notes can be used to open the reading material to the related pages by acting upon the raised areas. ... ...

Anyone care to build it? Sorry you can't patent it...

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