Wary of lugging a backpack full of textbooks on the University of Washington campus, Franzi Roesner couldn’t wait to get her hands on a new, lightweight e-reader from Amazon.com.
Soon after receiving a Kindle DX, however, something unexpected happened. Roesner began to miss thumbing through the pages of a printed textbook for the answer to a homework question.
She felt relieved several months later when required reading for one of her classes was unavailable on the Kindle, freeing her to use a regular textbook.
There were some interesting results and comments from the pilot. 80% would not recommend the Kindle as a classroom study aid for example. However 90% liked it for reading for pleasure.
The implication is that the Kindle did not work in the classroom, however as a device to read books it works fine.
The reason as outlined by Roesner is that:
“You don’t read textbooks in the same linear way as a novel.”
This is a lesson that educational publishers need to recognise when publishing content to platforms like the Kindle and the iPad. Though novels are linear and as a result eBook formats can “work” like a printed book, educational books are used differently and as a result eBook versions need to work differently. Students need to be able to move around quickly, annotate and bookmark.
The experiences at the University of Washington show that the issue wasn’t really with the Kindle, but was much more about the format of educational text books in the ebook format.
We often don’t get gadgets here in the UK that they have in the US, for example anyone want a Zune? Well even if you did, not available officially in the UK.
I remarked very early on when Amazon released the Kindle back in January 2008 that
Of course they aren’t available in the UK at all, I wonder if we will ever see a UK version of the Kindle?
Well the Kindle eventually made it to the UK in October 2009, however without the full on connectivity that made it an attractive device and one that stood out from the other e-Book devices out there. Without the connectivity I couldn’t see how the device was that much different to the Sony eBook Reader which I was using for eBooks. I was also pretty sure that we would see a new tablet/slate device from Apple soon (well probably in next couple of weeks) and that sounded a much better deal.
Having said that, released this week is the Kindle DX, the BIG Kindle. This is again an eBook Reader from Amazon but with a much bigger screen, 9.7” over the 6” of the Kindle. This makes reading complex pages and PDFs much easier than other eBook Readers. This makes it a much more suitable reading device for some curriculum areas which depend on diagrams and pictures.
The other big advantage of the Kindle is the backing of Amazon, making it very easy to buy and download eBooks to the device. This is something that other companies like Apple know, make it easy to buy content and people buy content.
With my Sony eBook Reader, I need to make sure I am on the right computer and then download the eBook to that computer before syncing with the Reader and then I can read my book. With the Kindle, I can browse and download the book via the device. In the US this is pretty seamless, however in the UK it gets a little more complicated and adds an extra charge to the book (as you have to pay roaming 3G charges).
I do like eBook Readers, however I won’t be buying a Kindle DX as I am going to wait and see what Apple bring to the market before the end of the month.
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