The new Kindle as an eTextbook reader

A pretty interesting article in CHE I just skimmed: How a Student-Friendly Kindle Could Change the Textbook Market. It’s kind of interesting because it basically ends up focusing on all the various reasons why the eTextbook thing hasn’t worked so far and why the Kindle DX is not liable to fair much better. This passage seems to sum up things for me:

What the textbook industry needs is the equivalent of an iTunes store for e-books, say some experts, who note that sales of digital music never took off until Apple created the iPod and an easy-to-use online music marketplace. That’s why Amazon seems like a promising entrant.

Except for one thing: Publishers have already set up a digital store meant to serve as the iTunes of e-textbooks, and it has been slow to catch on. The online store, called CourseSmart, was started two years ago by the five largest textbook publishers. Now 12 publishers contribute content to the service, which offers more than 6,300 titles. The e-books are all designed to be read on laptops or desktops, rather than Kindles or other dedicated e-book reading devices.

One problem for CourseSmart has been a lack of awareness by both students and professors that the service even exists.

“I’ve never heard of that,” said David K. Belsky, a graduate student at the State University of New York at Albany who started a Facebook group calling for cheaper textbook options. He has heard about Amazon’s plans for a new Kindle for textbooks, but he said he isn’t likely to invest in one. “I already have my laptop, and there’s only so many things you can carry,” he said, adding that he regularly types notes during class on his laptop. “I wouldn’t sit there taking notes on a Kindle, that’s for sure.”

I like that the Kindle DX is bigger and can render PDFs better. For my purposes, which basically are to load it up with the readings I teach, this could be a good thing. But at $500, I think I want to kind of wait a bit. I mean, for that kind of money, I might as well wait and see if Apple comes up with some kind of Mediapad that doesn’t require Verizon and/or that lets me choose a service provider.

But I digress.

This could be a good article to teach in 516.

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