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October 2009
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Princeton Students Give Kindle a Lukewarm Reaction

I’ve covered before the possible applications that the Kindle and other eReaders could have in education.  With Amazon’s pilot program for Kindle usage at universities, this semester is a testing of the waters for the future of eTextbooks.  The students involved have begun to voice their impressions, and they’re not entirely satisfied.

Does this mean that eReader adoption in the academic world will slow down?  Probably not.  The whole point of the Kindle trial is to see what works, and what doesn’t, when eReaders are put in the classroom.  So far students like the convenience of textbooks in the Kindle platform, but aren’t happy about studying with it.  Complaints are mainly about the inconvenience of note taking and flipping between passages when compared to traditional books.

But these complaints aren’t surprising.  The Kindle isn’t designed as an academic tool.  The whole reason for its success is that it is an entertainment device, created for the purpose of reading books for entertainment.  The opposite would be something like the Plastic Logic, which was created explicitly for the business world with entertainment as a secondary goal.  Chances are, Amazon is planning something similar to the touchscreen enabled Plastic Logic, some sort of Kindle academic edition.  Touch screen would be the most obvious addition, but a school oriented Kindle will probably find other ways to innovate as well.  The pilot program means that Amazon now has tons of data explaining exactly what students need from an academic eReader.  I don’t see why Amazon wouldn’t use it.

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