Thursday, May 07, 2009

New Version of Kindle

Inside Higher Ed reports today on the new version of the Kindle reader that is "specifically designed to be friendlier to books and newspapers than other digital devices are." The new Kindle is larger and PDF enabled, making it more textbook friendly. Amazon is partnering with three textbook publishers (Cengage Learning, Pearson, and Wiley) and six colleges (Pace University [at whose downtown campus the announcement was made], Reed College, Princeton University, University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, Arizona State University, and Case Western Reserve University) with the goal of incorporating Kindle into their curricula "in pilot experiments designed to test how students use e-textbooks and whether using them improves learning (or not)." I am affiliated with Pace Law School, and have to confess that I didn't know about this initiative until I read about it in Inside Higher Ed. Suffice it to say that the Law School isn't involved with the pilot, at least so far as I know. Here is a recent article from the Chronicle of Higher Education on the new Kindle reader that expresses skepticism that students will be take to it as a substitute for traditional print textbooks.

I certainly would have liked to have had e-textbooks in law school. I grew so tired of carrying around heavy casebooks that I began cutting them up and bringing to school only those sections I needed for each day's classes. I was a librarian before I went to law school, and the librarian in me hated cutting apart books. Frankly, I still don't understand what authors need publishers for anymore except marketing. If authors have access to a server, there is no practical reason why a text cannot be made available to readers either for free or for a fee. Students would have access to texts on their laptops and wouldn't need a Kindle device as well.

1 comment:

Betsy McKenzie said...

I believe that Gordon Russell at the new law school in Tennessee is working on having all the law school texts on Kindle. The last I heard, they were going to require Kindle for all the students, and then have all the casebooks and other required reading on the Kindle. He was talking to publishers at AALS. I don't know where he is with this. Gordon, are you out there?