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Amazon Kindle Fails First College Test

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the give-it-a-d dept.

Handhelds 256

theodp writes "If Amazon hoped for honest feedback when it started testing the Kindle DX on college campuses last fall, writes Amy Martinez, it certainly got its wish. Students pulled no punches telling Amazon what they thought of its $489 e-reader. But if Amazon also hoped the Kindle DX would become the next iPhone or iPod on campuses, it failed its first test. At the University of Virginia, as many as 80% of MBA students who participated in Amazon's pilot program said they would not recommend the Kindle DX as a classroom study aid (though more than 90% liked it for pleasure reading). At Princeton and Reed, students complained they couldn't scribble notes in the margins, easily highlight passages, or fully appreciate color charts and graphics. 'The pilot programs are doing their job — getting us valuable feedback,' said Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener. Martinez notes that Reed, Seton Hall, and other colleges plan to test the iPad in the fall to see if it can do better."

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256 comments

Odd choice (0, Flamebait)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340376)

So you mean they chose MBA students to test the applicability of a device for students' use? They should have considered using real graduate students [phdcomics.com] instead. As a grad student myself, I can say that the only way I would consider a kindle or ipad for my own use is if someone gave it to me for free...

Re:Odd choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32340416)

Paper for you it is, then.

Re:Odd choice (4, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340430)

Well, according to several e-mails that made it to my spam trap, there seem to be many surefire ways to get a free iPad or Kindle. Seems all you have to do is sign up for some marketing promotions and surveys...

Re:Odd choice (4, Funny)

qortra (591818) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340532)

There were some real graduate students in the mix:

"You don't read textbooks in the same linear way as a novel," said Roesner, 23, a graduate student in computer science and engineering.

Honestly, I tend to agree. Not having tried a Kindle myself, my opinion means little. However, I strongly suspect that I would encounter the same frustration that these people did when using it instead of textbooks.

With regard to business school, Futurama said it best:

All I want is to be a monkey of moderate intelligence who wears a suit... that's why I'm transferring to business school!

Re:Odd choice (3, Interesting)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340934)

I tend to find textbooks to be an outmoded form of communication anyway. In the classes I'm in we tend to switch between lab work, reading individual papers, reading smaller subject-specific paperbacks, etc. Most of the traditional thick / hardbound textbooks I've bought in the past year have just sat on the shelf. It's important background information that doesn't help you understand the political climate of China, why graphic designers work the way they do, or how to build flash applications.

Maybe Amazon should be targeting the smaller, single-use books in some way. Maybe buying individual chapters, so that professors can tailor a curriculum more tightly. Or having one-stop information compendiums that make it easier to buy everything for a specific class. Spend 100 dollars, and get the relevant chapters from 2 different textbooks, a few individual copies of relevant softbacks, and PDF archive versions of specific web pages that the class will use.

Re:Odd choice (3, Insightful)

qortra (591818) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341076)

Maybe Amazon should be targeting the smaller, single-use books in some way. Maybe buying individual chapter

Not a bad idea at all. Unfortunately, Amazon's impetus here isn't to make academia easier for students - it's to drive more sales of Kindles and Kindle media. Amazon loves the Kindle because they have a fat profit margin on books (shipping costs less than bandwidth, no material cost), and tighter control over distribution and dissemination. Combining your idea with Kindle content doesn't address the main complaint that was documented by the article. Namely, textbooks are not often read linearly. They require more random access, and that isn't as easy on a Kindle than in a physical textbooks (or chapter pamphlets as you suggest).

Re:Odd choice (4, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341348)

Hint: Not everyone cares about the politics of china, graphic designers or flash.

In mechanical engineering my books were/are invaluable. There is yet an online resource (and I've searched) that has as much material laid out as well as it does. Equations for four bar linkages, friction disks, thermodynamics, heat and mass transfer, etc haven't changed much in the last decade (or longer).

One HUGE regret I have is selling some of my books for pennies on the dollar. When referencing material that you spent a semester learning, nothing beats opening the exact book you used to help you remember.

Heck when I had to retake a course because I transfered schools I kept my original text book and used it in the new class along side my new book.

One thing that did irk me is that we did never use the full book, even in follow up courses.
ME 352 would have Book A and we'd use chapters 1-10, but ME 452 would have Book B and we'd use 10-20. Even though they were the 'same material'.

If I had the cash and was a professor I you could make a killing off of leasing books to students. Estimate that over the next 5 years you're going to have no more than 300 students / semester. Figure that 100 books will be stolen lost or damaged and you won't change from said book.

So you buy 400 books at 100 each, you're out $40,000. Lease books to students for $20* a semester. After 5 years you'll have made $20k profit and still have usable books.

My private elementary school had the some of the same books for close to 15 years. Each year you HAD to cover your books with grocery bags and take care of them. If a 3rd grader can take care of a Math book for an entire year, a college student can do it for a semester.

*$100 with $80 refund. They're going to come out better than if they bought and sold from the book store. You're going to turn a huge profit.

Re:Odd choice (4, Informative)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340974)

Let me include a bit more of that quote...

"You don't read textbooks in the same linear way as a novel," said Roesner, 23, a graduate student in computer science and engineering. "You have to flip back and forth between pages, and the Kindle is too slow for that."

That rings very true to my own educational experience. Also, based on my own experience and from watching other students in the past, when you're looking for something specific in a textbook you're most likely going to flip through looking for a picture, diagram, or a certain page layout. You may even remember approximately how far in from the front or back of the book the section is you're looking for (ie. you may remember it's about half an inch or one finger's thickness from the back of the book). None of these visual cues would work as well with an ebook reader, and as Roesner said, would be a lot slower.

Re:Odd choice (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341038)

you could search for it.

Re:Odd choice (2, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341198)

when you're looking for something specific in a textbook you're most likely going to flip through looking for a picture, diagram, or a certain page layout. You may even remember approximately how far in from the front or back of the book the section is you're looking for (ie. you may remember it's about half an inch or one finger's thickness from the back of the book). None of these visual cues would work as well with an ebook reader, and as Roesner said, would be a lot slower.

you could search for it.

Not always. I love my paper versions of old AD&D material. I got some rtf and MS helpfile versions of some AD&D material with a Core Rules CD a long while back. It was neat to search for specific text until I realized my spacial memory is stronger than my textual: I couldn't remember what certain things were called "Tome of Infinite Magic? Libram of Unending Magic? Oh well, I know it's in the misc magic items section..." I know which section of the book I'm in just by the pictures. I bet you could give a text-redacted version to any D&D nerd and they'd tell you what chart is on what page, but they might not remember what the exact words are to search for them, or what page numbers they are.

Re:Odd choice (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341446)

And that's how I use my iPad. I run Shadowrun games and dabble in a few others. For the purposes of getting set up for the game, I use the PDFs and a notebook (lately I've been using my iPhone and Evernote). But during the game when I need to look something up, I know where it is in the book and can flip to it then back and forth a few pages until I find the right spot. With search, it finds every instance in the PDF and I have to slog through the search looking at each page until I find the right one. Maybe search is faster but flipping sure does seem faster.

[John]

Re:Odd choice (1)

EggyToast (858951) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341560)

Search is faster for finding what you're searching for. It is not necessarily faster for finding actual information, which is what most people are doing when they are looking through a document. Search is like using a good index; it just tells you where the subject in question appears. You still need to check the context to see if it's the actual information you're looking for.

Re:Odd choice (4, Insightful)

apoc.famine (621563) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341362)

The kindle can search "page with multiline graph on the upper right, and weird diagram below it that has the equation I need"?

I agree that the ability to search is killer. The downside is what the GP was trying to say - often you remember what a page looked like that had information you needed on it. It's far quicker to turn to the section of the textbook it's near and just flip through a dozen pages than it is to try to come up with a keyword which will be on that page, and no other pages.

Re:Odd choice (1)

qortra (591818) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341190)

You may even remember approximately how far in from the front or back of the book the section is you're looking for

Absolutely. Not to mention the fact that frequently used pages will naturally open up when you get close. Kind of a pre-computer weighted search. It's pretty amazing how well designed books are.

Old-timer here. Oh... wait... (4, Funny)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341246)

I know you young'uns probably don't remember this, but back in my day we had institutions called libraries. Libraries had these things called books. You could get any book without paying anything. If the book wasn't available at your local library, you could use inter-library loan. That was free, also.

You could touch a book without smearing finger oil on a screen. There was no DRM; no one implied you were a criminal if you read someone else's book. If you wanted to have a copy of a page, you could photocopy it and write on the photocopy, actually write, with real ink.

I know this will sound amazing, but you didn't have to have a device to read a book! You could just read it. Books didn't have batteries; there was nothing to charge; there was no battery to go bad and carry back to Apple for an expensive replacement. You could read a book outdoors; you didn't need to worry about the weak display of an Apple LCD screen.

If you dropped a book, it would almost certainly not be damaged. There was no quirky, limited operating system that had to be updated. There was no file management. You just opened the book and started reading it.

There was no early adopter status, with people going around implying they were socially superior to you because they had a device. You didn't need to worry about new versions of a device that did a little more, but just a little, because there would be an even newer version a few months after that. Books never became obsolete because someone stopped supporting an old file format.

You didn't need electric power to read a book. You didn't need to worry about exploding batteries with their poisonous metals. There were no charge cords, or waiting for re-charging.

There were so many books that thieves usually didn't steal them.

You didn't have to pay the huge Jeff Bezos tax or the huge Steve Jobs tax; you didn't need to contribute to a billionaire only interested in having more billions.

Re:Old-timer here. Oh... wait... (1)

Matrix14 (135171) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341360)

There was no early adopter status, with people going around implying they were socially superior to you because they had a device.

Oh, I bet the first holders of Gutenberg bibles acted incredibly superior to their friends.

Re:Odd choice (4, Informative)

YA_Python_dev (885173) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340560)

Well they are completely right to complain about this: "they couldn't scribble notes in the margins, easily highlight passages".

You can do that with the products from IREX [irextechnologies.com] which, BTW, also happen to be much more open than the Kindle (no DRM bullshit, based on Linux, you can install new/better applications, etc.).

Disclaimer: I don't work for IREX, I'm only an happy owner of an iLiad.

Re:Odd choice (2, Funny)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340720)

Disclaimer: I don't work for IREX, I'm only an happy owner of an iLiad.

It's been a long day, I thought you said iLaid. I have a revolutionary new product idea.

Re:Odd choice (1)

Nakor BlueRider (1504491) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341014)

Another choice that might be better geared to students is the Entourage eDGe. If memory serves it was created with students, especially in science fields, in mind. It has one ePaper screen and one tablet-esque LCD screen, and apparently it's received decent reviews from students, though I have no personal experience therewith.

Recent article [businesswire.com]
Official site [entourageedge.com]

Excerpt from article:

The enTourage eDGe is the first device to merge an e-paper and LCD screen to create a dual-screen device that combines the functionality of an e-reader, tablet netbook, notepad and audio/video recorder and player in one inclusive device. These two displays work together to allow students to access and enrich information in a way that they previously couldn’t. Students can access their textbooks and make notes in the margins or highlight text while they simultaneously look up further information on the subject via the Web on the LCD side.
[...]
The two screens of the enTourage eDGe interact so that users can open hyperlinks that are included in an e-book text and view the content on the LCD screen, or ‘attach’ Web pages to passages in an e-book to be referenced at a later point. Additionally, as the enTourage eDGe uses E-Ink technology for easy digital reading, images will appear in gray-scale on the e-paper side of the device; however, users can load these in color on the LCD side, ideal for viewing colored charts and graphs from course materials. A built-in camera and microphone captures audio and video content that users can store and play back later. Included Documents To Go software makes Microsoft Office documents available for creating, viewing and editing for notes or school papers. The enTourage eDGe runs on the Google Android operating system and backs up all content on enTourage Systems’ servers for safe keeping. The device folds a full 360 degrees and orients its displays horizontally or vertically, to view as a book, single screen, or prop up laptop style.

Re:Odd choice (1)

Lunatrik (1136121) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341066)

I owned an iLiad for a while and, while it was GREAT for reading, its note-taking capabilities were not at all up to snuff for heavy useage. So, yes, while it CAN do it, I certainly wouldn't recommend it - the tech just isn't there. A few of the note-taking issues:

Slow to load sometimes
Had to specially format PDFs to give enough room to write in (a big deal if you read dozens of articles/week!)
Not all articles (in fact, not nearly enough) worked well with the special formatting
Pages are "smaller" than an actual notebook
Highlighting didn't really work

Now, again, the iLiad is a solid product, but I use composition books again now alongside a PRS-300 for leisure reading. I would argue NO solution is adequate yet for digital note taking.

Re:Odd choice (2, Informative)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341358)

The Kindle IS based on Linux. The Kindle DOES NOT require DRM. You need to get your facts straight. And unlike the cheaper readers, the Kindle actually has a gigantic library attached to it through that free 3G connection.

E-ink readers are great for pleasure reading, because you read front-to-back. They are not good for reference books, because it is difficult to "flip through" pages in them. The search feature also is inadequate, as the slow screen makes interactive search feel cumbersome.

Makes Sense (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340578)

So you mean they chose MBA students to test the applicability of a device for students' use?

They would have tried special ed kids, but they didn't want all the user reports written in crayon.

Re:Makes Sense (2, Funny)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340986)

So they settled for user reports written in Powerpoint?

I don't think it is any better. in fact I think Crayon is a much better tool for reports than powerpoint.

Re:Odd choice (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32340826)

So you mean they chose MBA students to test the applicability of a device for students' use? They should have considered using real graduate students [phdcomics.com] instead.

Franzi Roesner is a Ph.D. student in Computer Science. http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/franzi/

Piracy solves another issue (2, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340392)

A fast flipping display and cheaper unit would be a better fit.Any $150 Chinese android tablet would do. The books would have to be pirated, but college kids have been doing that for ages.

Re:Piracy solves another issue (1)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340470)

I look forward to a long-lasting, color, touch screen device that can accurately capture fine touch (pen) for reading and note taking. The modern convertible laptops fit the bill except for their size. The other problem being the content limitations. But, as a graduate student, I can say that I'd love to carry around a light device like a light, android based tablet instead of 2-4 textbooks.

Re:Piracy solves another issue (1)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340504)

Apparently their main gripes centered around not being able to easily scribble notes in the margins. While I personally don't like writing on my textbooks, my experience buying used books tells me most students apparently do. So, if they want to be able to reach the textbook market they're going to have to come up with a way to easily write all over the pages of whatever book is being read.

Re:Piracy solves another issue (2, Funny)

schon (31600) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340642)

I know - sell the DX with a stack of post-its! The students can write on the post-its, and stick them over the passages they want to highlight!

Dammit - now I'm sure Amazon will patent this, and nobody else will be able to use it!

Re:Piracy solves another issue (0)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340618)

The problem is that LCD screens are a pain to read for extended periods of time on.

I've read books on my laptop before and I can say with absolute certainty I'd rather read a book on my B&N nook than on an LCD any day. Yeah, LCDs aren't bad for graphics heavy things, but reading walls of text can certainly cause eyestrain.

Re:Piracy solves another issue (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340810)

That is all in your head.

How do you work?
I look at a pair of LCDs all day, then I go home and use another one as a TV. Then I read books on my droid. I have none of these problems.

Re:Piracy solves another issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32340944)

I have none of these problems.

Yet.

Re:Piracy solves another issue (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341536)

Been using computers since 1979, from big green screen or amber screen monitors to B/W and color TVs on up to CRTs and now LCDs.

For me it isn't "yet" yet.

[John]

Re:Piracy solves another issue (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341070)

It's not in his head. Your lucky and he's not. I was having problems with occasional migraines for a while, associated with staring at a monitor for 10-12 hours a day. A change in eye prescription made it better.

Re:Piracy solves another issue (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341260)

How on Earth do you know it's all in their head? I agree completely with the statement that E-Ink is much easier on the eyes than LCD. Anything with a backlight is going to strain the eyes. I'm still reasonably young, but decades of TV and computers will no doubt take their toll and my eyes will probably be near useless come retirement.

Re:Piracy solves another issue (4, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341434)

> How on Earth do you know it's all in their head?

Because that's where their eyes are.

Holy Cow (4, Insightful)

jlechem (613317) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340394)

The tried and true method of doing things that is known to work outdid the new shiny?

Amazing......

Re:Holy Cow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32341160)

Yup, early adopters are often surprised by that.

On the other hand, the naysayers are often equally surprised when the new tech takes a decisive revenge years or decades later.

Remember when in the 1970's a lot of people predicted that LEDs would replace incandescents? It sure took a while, but yeah, it seems like they were right.

iPad will pass with flying colors... if... (1)

scottwilkins (1224922) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340408)

This use scenario seems much more apt for an iPad, due to it's much heavier flexibility. But, only if proper applications are written to fit the student's needs better.

Re:iPad will pass with flying colors... if... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340884)

Well, it doesn't look like it occured to Apple to address this use case so perhaps it's a horserace at this point.

Or perhaps some other dark horse will sneak up on both of them.

Re:iPad will pass with flying colors... if... (1)

mldi (1598123) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340964)

This use scenario seems much more apt for an iPad, due to it's much heavier flexibility. But, only if proper applications are written to fit the student's needs better.

Or, they could just use a full out tablet with a stylus that's more suited for this kind of thing. I did it for math classes... it was wonderful being able to print off my notes.

Print was first, iPad Comes second, kindle last. (2, Interesting)

irreverant (1544263) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340410)

Coming from a generation that has seen the birth of the internet and school instruction online. I have to say, print is dead, or close to it, if the kindle or iPad have anything to do with it. It's promising that students gave honest reviews of the kindle as a tool for instruction, the kindle offers a lot of promise as a teaching tool, with it being a test and LOTS of room for improvement, maybe with all the honest and constructive criticism amazon will make many new improvements that will help individuals become better students. However, I can speculate that by shear performance alone, the kindle has 'a-ways' to go when competing with the iPad. Although I am not a fan of the iPad it can be a great tool for students. It will be interesting to see what direction amazon takes with this device.

Re:Print was first, iPad Comes second, kindle last (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32341008)

print is dead

I know it is fashionable to try to be the first to pronounce something 'dead', especially if you are on the internet and can somehow credit the internet with killing it. But other than that, why do you think it is dead or even dying?

Has consumption of writing paper decreased as computer use has increased? This [gpeters.com] says it hasn't. It also looks like printing and writing paper consumption is up [statmill.org], again.

Paper has enormous advantages over digital for displaying information, particularly information that a person might need to annotate. The Kindle might have a ways to go to supplant the ipad for that application, but both have light years to go to pass pen and paper.

Re:Print was first, iPad Comes second, kindle last (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341114)

Essentially their criticism seem to boil down to:

  • No color. I'm not an expert in the field by any stretch, but my understanding is that "electronic paper" screens can do color, but it's cost prohibitive right now. Please correct me if I'm wrong. This is a fairly serious serious issue, that can't be easily resolved short of waiting for cost on the technology to come down.
  • No ability to "mark up" the books. No highlighting or margin notes. This is a pure software issue. The problem (it seems to me) probably relates to the DRM on the book somehow, but seems solvable. I know that these devices have pretty extensive bookmarking capability, so it shouldn't be that hard to implement some sort of note system.
  • Slow to page back and forth. Obviously a hardware/software issue. No idea how hard or easy to solve this would be (seems easy, but I'm not writing the code)
  • Lack of content. Many books students need simply aren't out for the devices.
  • Not much cheaper than regular textbooks. This, in my opinion, is the biggest turn off for e-book readers in general. Books are very expensive to publish and ship. There is clearly a significant material cost involved in their production, yet e-books (which lack these costs) are not significantly less expensive. I'm not thrilled about spending $200-300 for a reader so I can save 15-20% on book costs. Seems students aren't either. Especially given that text books tend to be *very* expensive to begin with.

iPad/tabletPCs don't have the first issue, but they have a similar or related issue. They're simply difficult to read for long periods of time, and often very difficult to see in natural light situations (ie, studying outside on a sunny day). Otherwise they simply use software to emulate the functions of e-book readers. So they probably share most of the other faults of the readers.

sony got this right (3, Interesting)

escay (923320) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340422)

for scribbling margin notes, highlighting, syncing notes with PC/mac - and more, the Sony Daily Edition [sonystyle.com] perfectly fits the bill. That device is the right size, feature list and perhaps the correct price point. Sony should be peddling that to the universities to finally gain some respectable foothold in the e-book industry.

Re:sony got this right (1)

Wovel (964431) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340506)

How do you scribble notes? (I did not see anything on their site. Is it with a pen? This is one of the few cases I think a pen would be handy on a device.

If it was slightly bigger and had a way to quickly mark up the text, it would have real promise.

Re:sony got this right (1)

tao (10867) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340786)

Yup, you take notes using a stylus (search for the word stylus on the page and you'll find it).

Re:sony got this right (5, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340726)

the Sony Daily Edition perfectly fits the bill.

It sounds like it would be great, if anybody but Sony made it. Sorry, but after they rooted my PC there's no way I'll buy anything with a Sony logo, ESPECIALLY computer gear. A company that would put rootkits on legitimately purchased music CDs would stoop to anything.

Re:sony got this right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32340882)

Any PC that can be rooted by inserting a music CD is fair game. Thank Sony for reminding you that you bought junk.

what do you expect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32340436)

The kindle would be successful in a world where piracy only happens at sea and where computers only serve one or two functions.

Re:what do you expect (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340664)

Because it is impossible to pirate books to a Kindle?

See, the nice thing about the Kindle is that its easier to purchase legitimate books than it is to pirate them. That is a good thing, yeah there is still DRM and the like, but in all honesty, devices that make it easier to purchase and use purchased content then pirated is a step in the right direction because it means that they have finally realized that the customer is not their enemy.

Re:what do you expect (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341538)

If there is DRM they have not realized that at all. They are just hiding it better.

Hmm (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340438)

Sounds like Amazon was really trying to get some exposure/press. Of all of the feedback I've seen in TFA I would say it was "obvious". I'm sure now they have a nice good demographic targeted, complete with contact info etc, to spearhead their pre-planned campaign when they launch a device that does most of what was requested of the DX.

Disclaimer: I own a DX

Electronics != Best Solution (3, Insightful)

Cryonix (1234264) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340446)

Using the Kindle, iPad, or any other electronic device is not going be wildly accepted by the college crowd. I find it hard to imagine studying without being able to mark in the book, fold pages, constantly flip through entire sections, or any of the features that make physical books great. Not to mention resale of DRM is non-existent.

Re:Electronics != Best Solution (4, Interesting)

jadrian (1150317) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340918)

True, that said it could have an amazing future in academia if they just come up with something good enough. I have hundreds of papers lying around, keep reprinting stuff I can't find, have plenty of notes on some and taking them with me when traveling is a pain. Honestly I am dying to have a nice device where I can easily read my scientific papers, tag them with keywords and bibliographic info for easy searches, add notes and what not.

The ownership issues would be more important (5, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340450)

The fact that Amazon wants to be able to reach inside your kindle and remove things, even things you put notes in sort of destroys the value of the Kindle as an academic tool.

Re:The ownership issues would be more important (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340636)

It does kind of make you wonder what happens at the end of your Term to your textbook. Are they going to have the publishers demand that they yank it?

Re:The ownership issues would be more important (5, Insightful)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340670)

Teacher: "We'll be using History of the Modern World, Third Edition. You can verify this by viewing page 212. If it states that Eurasia has always been at war with Oceania, then you have the Third Edition. Anything else is wrong and you should click "Update E-Book" at your earliest convenience."

Re:The ownership issues would be more important (4, Funny)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341554)

What would be really funny is if someone bought the novel 1984 on Kindle and then Amazon came and forced an update that deleted it!

Re:The ownership issues would be more important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32340680)

The fact that Amazon wants to be able to reach inside your kindle and remove things, even things you put notes in sort of destroys the value of the Kindle as an academic tool.

I disagree. When it comes down to it, most people just aren't that ideological when it comes to information freedom. In other words, they don't care.

If it works, is cheap, and is lighter than carrying aroud a few books, college students will ignore things like DRM and remote revocation.

Re:The ownership issues would be more important (2, Insightful)

Mascot (120795) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340842)

As far as I've read, it's the publishers that want this, not Amazon.

I haven't myself done a lot of research, admittedly (cause I don't really care, if they cease to want to sell me books for my Kindle, I can always download them from other sources), but a friend of mine keeps bringing up stories about publishers pushing for things like expiration dates on ebooks.

We've been here before, oh so many times. Cassette tapes will kill the music industry. Video tape recorders will kill the movie industry. Illegal music downloads will kill the music industry. Readily accessible, easy to buy, ebooks will kill the book industry.. Sigh.

I'm not amazed when an industry refuses to listen to predictions, however realistic they may seem. But that they still don't get it, after multi-billion dollar industries have gone before them and shown what works and what does not, does somewhat baffle me still.

Ah well, let the publishers dig their own graves. I've read a few decent self-published $2 novels lately, so there doesn't seem to be any reason to worry. There'll still be stuff to read.

Oh, yeah, on the topic. 10 minutes worth of using the Kindle would've negated any need for the article's test. It doesn't take longer than that to rule it out as a study aid. It's simply too limited, too slow, too cumbersome to do the job.

Upgrades? (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340474)

The company last month announced software upgrades enabling Kindle users to sort books into collections and zoom in on PDF documents.

"This is precisely the sort of dynamic, positive thinking that we so desperately need in these trying times of crisis and universal broo-ha-ha."
Seriously, Amazon is touting these basic features as 'upgrades'. Like Apples 'wait...you want copy AND paste???'

Re:Upgrades? (1)

Mascot (120795) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340932)

Amazon labels them as "upgrades", because they are. The basis for comparison being the previous version of the software, no matter how gimped that was. Hell, they still don't get it. Collections? Great, I can make a Fantasy "folder", and inside that other folders for each of the authors or series. Keep it nice and tidy. Err, no. No hierarchy possible. What the? What century are they living in? It's still an upgrade though, and a much wanted one.

Apple, on the other hand, would have done the same and held a huge event where they used "innovation", "it's that easy" and "isn't that great?" at least once every three sentences.

That's the different between reality and reality distortion fields. :P

As many as...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32340508)

So, at the very worst case, twenty percent of the students didn't think the Amazon Kindle was crap? Not everyone needs to highlight text or write in margins. The color graphs and charts is a kick to the jimmies, sure - but if you need to read something, and you don't do any of the aforementioned? Sounds like a nice shoe-in.

I can see it now... (4, Insightful)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340518)

The greatest "advantage" to e-readers, or whatever the hell they are being called this week, is that publishers will be able speed up the scam of planned obsolescence in the college textbook scam/game.

Now my kid buys a $300 "required" book only to be told it has NO resale value come next semester because it is the "old edition". With Kindle, et al, that planned obsolescence can take place FASTER.

Now get off my lawn.

Re:I can see it now... (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340750)

Now my kid buys a $300 "required" book only to be told it has NO resale value come next semester because it is the "old edition". With Kindle, et al, that planned obsolescence can take place FASTER.

Yes, but so much more conveniently...

No longer will your kid have to stand in long lines at the college bookstore waiting to be ripped off. Now he can be ripped off in the comfort of his own dorm room.

Re:I can see it now... (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340818)

The most expensive book I was forced to purchase was, perhaps $120. Most were between $50 and $80.

Was my experience atypical?

Re:I can see it now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32340948)

30 years ago I was buying text books costing £20 or more; in terms of income that could well be $300 in todays money.

Re:I can see it now... (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341054)

If you were an engineer yes, it was atypical. If you weren't an engineer then sounds about right.

Re:I can see it now... (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341344)

Really? I was a CS/EE double-major. Even the books that I bought once and used for 2 or 3 related courses were still less than $120 each.

Re:I can see it now... (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341196)

yes. consider yourself lucky. With university physics, engineering and math texts, $200 wasn't uncommon.

Re:I can see it now... (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340860)

Downside: you can't resell the "book". Upside? The Pirate Bay and a netbook. Who needs a Kindle?

Re:I can see it now... (1)

Matrix14 (135171) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341296)

That turns out to already be true. An enormous number of textbooks can be found in P2P networks and torrents.

Re:I can see it now... (2, Interesting)

dnahelicase (1594971) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341416)

Actually, it will be the opposite. No longer will textbook manufacturers have to update so quickly in order to make the books obsolete. From now on, the book is YOUR edition

YOU will own the book meaning nobody else can have it. It will have no resale value because you paid for in on your account and nobody else will be able to use it unless they can sync a kindle/ipad/ereader on your account.

Profs might actually like this better because books might change less, and book publishers might even give you updates for free/cheap, but everyone will have to buy it.

Of course, some kids will pirate, but many "value-added" features on websites will require a registered key to work. Or they might give you a cheaper "rental" option that expires after the semester.

$498 way too high for a unitasker (3, Insightful)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340564)

I am surprised anybody buys it. You can buy an iPad for about the same price, and the iPad does far more.

Arguably the kindle is better for just reading - still.

Sears has the "Aluratek LIBRE eBook Reader PRO" for $99, and buy.com has the "Ectaco jetBOOK LITE e-Book Reader" also for $99.

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00309013000P?vName=Computers%20&%20Electronics&cName=PortableElectronics&sName=MP3%20Players&psid=FROOGLE01&sid=IDx20070921x00003a [sears.com]

http://www.buy.com/prod/ectaco-jetbook-lite-e-book-reader/q/listingid/84607877/loc/111/213401968.html [buy.com]

Re:$498 way too high for a unitasker (2, Informative)

slyrat (1143997) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340900)

I am surprised anybody buys it. You can buy an iPad for about the same price, and the iPad does far more.

Arguably the kindle is better for just reading - still.

Sears has the "Aluratek LIBRE eBook Reader PRO" for $99, and buy.com has the "Ectaco jetBOOK LITE e-Book Reader" also for $99.

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00309013000P?vName=Computers%20&%20Electronics&cName=PortableElectronics&sName=MP3%20Players&psid=FROOGLE01&sid=IDx20070921x00003a [sears.com]

http://www.buy.com/prod/ectaco-jetbook-lite-e-book-reader/q/listingid/84607877/loc/111/213401968.html [buy.com]

The reason that the kindle / sony reader / nook are better than these $99 readers is because they use e-ink. Which really is a different feel for reading and viewing. If you haven't seen it then you don't realize how much of a difference it brings over the other display types. It is also why they are better at just plain reading then the iPad ever can be just because of eye strain levels.

Re:$498 way too high for a unitasker (4, Insightful)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341530)

I dunno. $498 still seems insanely high. I can get a netbook for $199, or a really nice laptop for $450.

http://www.techdealdigger.com/pr/cheap-acer-aspire-one-aod250-1151-101-inch-black-netbook-deals/3391 [techdealdigger.com]

http://www.dealhack.com/archives/2010/05/133_hp_pavilion_dm3_ultrathin.html [dealhack.com]

In many ways netbooks and notebooks are superior for reading ebooks, especially ebooks in PDF format. Of course, netbooks and notebooks do far more than just read ebooks.

BTW: the $99 readers use e-Paper, which seems like it might be e-Ink by another name.

a tool for the wrong job (1)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340622)

The Kindle doesn't do Facebook or IM so it is not going to work well for what people are doing in class with computeresque devices. The iPad types too slow, netbooks have too small of a screen to really read on, and most laptops are too bulky and don't have a great battery life. Fix those issues and you should be set classroom use.

Re:a tool for the wrong job (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340748)

netbooks have too small of a screen to really read on

10.1" is too small to read on? I have read an entire book on my ipod touch with 3.5" screen, and I have awful vision.

Re:a tool for the wrong job (2, Informative)

EvanED (569694) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341058)

Depends on what you're reading. Many textbooks are formatted for paper that is not much smaller than 8 1/2 x 11. Grabbing a not atypically sized one (Dummit & Foote's Abstract Algebra) gives pages that are about 7.5x9.25 in, or about 12" in diagonal. Displaying that on a 10.1" screen gives almost a 15% reduction in magnification.

For a more extreme example, take a typical CS conference paper. Printed on 8.5x11 paper (13.9" diagonal) in 10 or 11 pt font, two column format, reducing that to the size of 10.1" gives a 27% reduction in size. That 11 point font is now barely 8 points; if it's 10pt, then it now acts like 7.2pt. At LCD resolutions, that's starting to really impact readability IMO.

Now sure, you can scroll and such, but this can be a huge PITA. It's a PITA if you're using a textbook with figures that you want to refer to; it's a PITA if you're reading something formatted in 2-column format because you have to scroll way more, etc.

Trial 3 (3, Insightful)

Bysshe (1330263) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340666)

1st trial: kindle (fail)
2nd trial: ipad (will fail)
3rd trial: pen & paper WIN

Re:Trial 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32340908)

Read what I mean, not what I wrote.

What am I, a wizard? How about you just try to write what you mean?

Refreshing to see that hardcopy isn't dead yet (1)

Dex1331 (1810146) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340716)

Even the younger generation of college kids still appreciate the tactile usability of that old tool we call a book. Somehow I find it refreshing or heartening to know that the younger generations aren't completely abandoning hardcopy. With society constantly being assaulted by technology I guess there is still hope when kids rather have a book in their hand instead of the new gadget...I'm sure it's just a matter of time though before that is no longer true.

Professors hate textbooks too (5, Insightful)

dward90 (1813520) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340728)

Students aren't the only ones who find textbook prices monumentally absurd. Most of my professors no longer require a textbook. However, they are required by the University to specify a textbook, so every student who buys it before the first day of classes gets royally screwed.

There also exist moronic profs who require you to buy the textbook, purchase a code for the online help, AND buy the study guide/homework guide, and then NEVER USE IT. I've found this in the English department more than once. These people need to be burned at the stake.

Re:Professors hate textbooks too (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32340938)

Textbooks are hated only by the profs who didn't write them - the profs who did write the textbooks are the reasons the costs are so high...

Re:Professors hate textbooks too (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341252)

You missed the point. It's a university; they're not there to hold your hand. The study guide/homework guide is a study guide which you're supposed to use, on your own, following along within the context of your class discussion. Now, having said that I rarely bothered to purchase the study guide...

Re:Professors hate textbooks too (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341256)

What I learned to do after my undergrad degree with text books I had to buy but were not all that interested in was to buy the old edition online. For most purposes this seemed to work. Moronic profs can often be gotten around.

That said, a good set of textbooks in your profession can be useful. I used many of my books to look stuff up years after I left school. Also, some textbooks are not so useless. The problem set are often worth the cost of the textbook for students who really want to learn the material.

I often wonder what some of us are going to do between the time that ideas can no longer be sold at a reasonable profit and the brave new Star Trek universe makes money and all our current free market(nee capitalist) ideals irrelevant. I would say teaching, but increasingly people do not value and education, and the growth of charter schools means who you know will be more important to becoming a teacher than what you know or your ability to teach.

It's too true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32340822)

I bought a nook in the middle of last semester with the intention of lightening the burden of my bookbag. I found that (1) too few text/reference books are published in e-formats (PDF is not a viable substitute for a proper .epub or equivalent), (2) getting directly to a page or location was tedious, (3) flipping between pages was just plain impossible, and (4) the nook's screen (same as the original Kindle) is too small for the format of most text and reference books, which employ sidebars, illustrations, etc.

The Kindle DX would, I imagine, alleviate exactly one of these concerns. The remaining three are deal-breakers.

An iPad, on the other hand, costs more, is more fragile, weighs more, is heavier, and, though pretty, is shamed by the readability and versatility of e-ink.

Meanwhile, school is over and the nook has reawakened my taste for recreational reading to the point that I'm devouring several books a week and every new book I hear of makes me think: I hope it's available as an eBook!

I have the ideal solution! (3, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340828)

I have the ideal solution for students, or for anyone who might want to enjoy reading a book and then sharing it with others when you're done, or if someone wanted to study a book and quickly switch back and forth between pages, highlight to your heart's content, and scribble notes between the lines or in the margins.

There is this newfangled substance called "paper." If only books could possibly be "printed" on uniformly-cut "sheets" of this paper, and then "bound" together with glue and yarn, and perhaps be encased in a protective cardboard or lightweight wood or even plastic "covers." Then, you could turn the pages without having to fiddle with gestures or buttons, you don't need to worry about batteries, and since you OWN the book and cannot connect it online, no one can decide the book needs to be recalled and remotely delete it. Not only that, you can lend the book out to others, or even sell it when you no longer find any use or enjoyment from it. DRM would not stand in the way of exercising either Fair Use or your first sale rights.

I know my idea seems somewhat quaint, but who knows - - it might just catch on!

The pilot programs are .. getting us .. feedback (2, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340834)

"It seems we need to make the next Kindle large, with at least 20-50 flexible sheets of e-ink "paper", and a highlighter/pen wand that allows for easy e-ink marking. Soon we'll have the perfect format. Ten years after that, we'll lock it into a one-ebook to one-kindle setup so that we sell more kindles. Who wouldn't spend $400 per novel?"

correction (1)

Cobble (1116971) | more than 3 years ago | (#32340840)

Correction: That's Seton Hill that will try the iPad, not Seton Hall, which is a different school.

The iPodization of Print is Failing (4, Insightful)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341018)

Everyone is trying to create their own iPod/iTunes like market for eBooks. It's a silly strategy that has little future because books and multimedia are very different technologies.

* The killer application is actually publishing your book as a computer file instead of inked on dead trees, not creating a device that is only remarkable in that it is compatible with your DRM scheme.
* Finding ways to sell your books to the largest market possible should be the goal.
* The only thing that differentiates and the sizes of the walled garden markets is the number of devices that are compatible with their DRM schemes.
* DRM is defective by design for most eBooks as it can be defeated a touch typist with some time on their hands. Music and movies actually require a much higher level of skill to crack.

It's like everyone missed Apple's secret weapon with iPod: $1 songs and $2 TV Shows - and tons of free podcasts. Pricing on eBooks, aside the occasional sale at O'Reiley is nuts.

In short, book publishers need to rethink the need for walled gardens. They add little value, given that portable devices that can read open formats have existed since the 1980s, and the current crop of slates and ePaper devices are not much different than a regular computer anyway.

MS Courier (1)

r_benchley (658776) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341026)

It's kind of a shame that Microsoft scrapped the Courier. Based on the demo videos I saw, it seems like it would have been a natural fit for something like this.

Academic tool? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341174)

Never even considered it one. To me its nice way to read e-books with out the usual eyestrain from a traditional LCD. Most of all that i have read have been stories, or 'tutorial' style tech books. Flipping around would be murder.

Oh, i never wrote in my books in school, i had a notebook for taking notes.

Beating a dead horse (1)

greymond (539980) | more than 3 years ago | (#32341496)

I've said this before, and I'm saying it again, eReaders really need to support PDF's and Word files a lot better than they currently do, especially if they want to get their devices into a college or have anything other than a black and white book novel read...

It doesn't matter if it's a college text book, a role playing game manual, or any type of publication that uses complex images/tables/graphs/charts/etc you need a PDF or Office type of file (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) file and you need to view it well. The current ePub files don't display these types of content well and the Kindle just doesn't work well with PDFs right now and doesn't support other file types. Sony and Apple have some support but not complete by any means.

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