EBook Readers and Digital Textbooks

eBook readers are one of the hottest new gadgets around right now. Imagine being able to carry your entire library with you when you travel, being able to easily search through it at the touch of a few buttons, and have the device fit in your purse! And imagine all the trees that wouldn’t need to be cut down to make paper.

One path leading to the wider acceptance and use of ebook readers will be their use in schools and universities for reading textbooks, but are the current devices up to the task?

In May of this year, Jeff Bezos acknowledged this by focusing on etextbook use as he introduced the Kindle DX. This new, larger addition to the Kindle family should be better suited for this purpose than it’s smaller sibling, the Kindle 2. Definitely the screen shots of the Kindle DX displaying diagrams are looking good. “We’re going to get students with smaller backpacks, less load”, Mr. Bezos said. He also announced five colleges and universities that will be trying out the Kindle DX in the upcoming fall session: Arizona State, Case Western Reserve, Princeton, Reed College, and University of Virginia

Mr. Bezos also announced that Amazon has reached agreements with three of the leading textbook publishers: Pearson, Cengage Learning and Wiley.

Pilot programs at universities have so far met with mixed results. In several cases, students requested print textbooks after becoming frustrated with the digital textbook. Most of the problems seem to arise from navigational problems. Results so far would seem to indicate that additional features are needed on the devices before the use of ebook readers for reading textbooks can really take off. Classroom use of ebook readers would require advanced search functions, annotations (including shared annotations), and reliable multiple bookmarking functionality for example. Access to Wikipedia would also greatly enhance a student’s experience Another problem is mismatched pagination between users of printed and e versions of books. And finally, of course, color would be much better for those anatomical drawings!   Looks like we’ve still got a ways to go before backpack makers need start worrying.  Certainly the Kindle DX is currently best of breed when it comes to digital textbooks; the new addition to the Kindle family does include many of the features necessary.  It will be interesting to see how well the device is accepted by the students in the trials this fall.

For more ebook reader news and reviews, please visit me at http://www.findebookreaders.com

 

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