Kindle at College

I’ve had a chance recently to do a sort of follow up on a previous story looking at the experiences of college students who use their Kindle in academic situations.  I got noticeably positive responses from the majority of those I talked to, though there were a few people with problems I simply would not have guessed about, going into it.  As before, here’s some of the more interesting stuff I got:

No Good Kindle Annotated Editions?

Alice, an English Grad Student, said:

I picked up my Kindle because I was getting ready for my Comps and figured it was an easy way to save some hassle on Inter-Library Loan stuff and maybe even a bit of money, in the long run.  As far as that use, I don’t have a thing to complain about.  Pretty much everything I needed was either free or cheap, and I found some cool stuff I didn’t expect to have along the way.  What makes me kinda regret the decision though is that there’s no real equivalent to something like a Norton Edition that I’ve been able to find.  Annotation and an applicable set of secondary sources can be an amazing help when you’re looking at something new, but now I find myself weighing that against the price difference in a way I never did before.  It can be a pain.  I hope they fix that soon.

Nook Color means Kindle Color Soon, right?

Melissa, a Sociology Undergraduate, said:

I got my Kindle DX from my mom at Christmas last year.  It’s been great for classes where teachers think they’re going to save us loads of money by putting all sorts of articles online.  I hate reading on computers, but nobody wants to print off a thousand pages.  What I’m looking forward to is the Kindle Color.  I figure, it’s only a matter of time now that the Nook got there first.  It’s not like Amazon would want to be the second-best book reader, would they?

Kindle Textbooks

A TN Professor who prefers to remain unnamed said:

Ok, I love the Kindle and all those others in theory, but they only give me some of what I need.  I want to convince my department that we need to get these kids buying their Kindles as freshmen so that it’s worth the money by the time they graduate even if not all of their books are available for it in most classes.  So far, no luck. When more Kindle textbooks start becoming available, I think I can see a change happening.  Until that happens, the school bookstore just integrated somehow with a Barnes & Noble ebook thing so I guess we’re going to have to go with them.

As I mentioned, the overwhelming majority of those I talked to really loved their Kindles.  Did some, like these, want more?  Well, really, who doesn’t?  One thing that I did notice, however, was that even for those we thought that the Kindle was only somewhat useful for school loved it for personal use.  Call that added value, maybe?  Anyway, I love the fact that there’s finally a growing segment of the population at colleges who are pushing for the use of eReading devices.  Did we really need a new edition of that 30lb, $140 biology textbook every single year?

2 thoughts on “Kindle at College

  1. I agree on all three points. They’ve all been mentioned many times and we can only hope that Amazon is listening.

    I have hope, because the few times I’ve commented on my Kindle to Amazon directly, I’ve gotten personal responses from a human being somewhere out there.

    • Annotated Editions are fantastic. Since the Kindle already supports annotations, including “popular annotations,” it shouldn’t be that difficult to perhaps sell a “pre-annotated” edition of a work.

    • Example: Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury is a tough work to slog through unassisted. It’s a beautiful work that could easily use stylized text and annotations to present it in an annotated form.

    • Color: I’m not so demanding of this as a feature, though it would be a nice add-on. The Nook Color is beautiful, but it’s relatively heavy and battery life (of course) pales in comparison to my Kindle 2. Perhaps we’ll soon see a decent, reasonably-priced color e-ink solution.

    • More Textbooks on the Kindle – Amen to that. I’m a Junior in college and am fortunate that many of my professors have sworn off the $100+ textbooks. Most of my books are readily available on the Kindle. Sometimes, however, you can’t avoid the textbooks. Digital formats of biology textbooks, macroeconomics textbooks, and other books that require large, color illustrations just don’t work on the smallish black-and-white screen of the Kindle.

    Fortunately, popular demand for ereaders is out there. Hopefully the demand will spur the appropriate level of innovation from the manufacturers. (The Nook Color is certainly a step in the right direction. It is a beautiful device after all.)

    Thanks for the post, Matthew!

  2. The really BIG things with Kindle, as far as I can tell, are 1) the size is too small for textbooks and 2) the change in pagination from printed texts.

    I’m long gone from college (UW, class of ’81), but in the limited instances where I’ve been in a group that was mixed between printed works and Kindle editions, it’s a pain to sync everyone to the same passage or paragraph.

    As for some of the comments, I too am looking for a slightly larger, color version of the Kindle.

    If they cana solve the pagination issues, that would be icing on the cake…

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