Ars Technica on student Kindle

Ars Technica covers the analyst’s report talking about the rumored new Kindle models, which we covered here.

Ars notes that an e-textbook reader could appeal to both students and professors, both of whom are losing patience with the high prices (and heavy weights) that currently rule the textbook publishing industry. It also has some suggestions for things Amazon might want to keep in mind if to make an eduKindle a success:

Continued price drops for e-books will help, as they’ll be more attractive to students who currently resell their used textbooks at the end of each semester. A large inventory of textbooks will also help (there’s no use in getting a Kindle for textbooks if you can only get one or two books on it), and the addition of student-friendly features (such as the ability to make annotations) would round out the list of things that would make such a thing appealing to students. Oh, and a low price would help too.

Certainly an educational Kindle model could be beneficial all around—not only to students, but to people who need larger print to read and find that smaller screens simply cannot show enough of it for their liking. And students will certainly find other uses for their Kindle than just textbook reading—both in spare school time, and after they graduate. (Though it might be a temptation for some to read for leisure in class!)

And if the print publishers consider it to be serious competition, it might also drive print textbook prices down for people who prefer those.

Moderator’s note: Earlier today the quote was accidentally extended and included two extra graphs. That was my fault—because of the way it displayed on my system when I was doing format tweaks—rather than Chris Meadows’. – D.R.

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3 Comments on Ars Technica on student Kindle

  1. The concept and idea behind it is quite attractive–especially if it’ll be able to keep my hundreds of required reading articles in a neatly organized and easy-to-browse format. How nice it would be to never have to deal with printing out or reading horribly scanned pdfs of journal articles! Files made of actual text would be wonderful–and all portable in one handy device! But if it comes down to having to choose between locking myself into Amazon’s DRM or suffering scoliosis, I think I’ll have to stick with the latter.

  2. Has there been any discussion of cost?

    Sure it would be a great idea for students to all have Kindles (issues of DRM aside) if all of their textbooks are available as ebooks but who’s going to pay for the Kindle?

    If I’m a poor student I’m going to be buying used books that I can later sell back to pay for books for the NEXT term/semester, not a Kindle and ebook editions I can’t get any return value for.

    A rich student won’t care – other than they will probably already have some other device – like a laptop – that could be used for e-textbooks.

    The price of a Kindle or other ebook device plus the cost of the e-textbooks is going to have to be competitive with the cost of used books, not brand new books.

    (And used books can’t be eliminated overnight. If a school suddenly told all of their students that “next semester you have to buy a Kindle and ALL of your books must be Kindle-ized e-textbooks because the publisher came out with all new editions that are only available on the Kindle” there would be a riot.)

  3. On the other hand, if the textbooks’ cost was reduced enough, then the cost of buying all your textbooks might be comparable to the amount you lose in resale value and “discontinued edition” refusals, rather than the multihundreds cost of buying everything at the beginning of the semester.

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