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Princeton Boasts Its Kindle Project Is Noblest 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-textbooks-weigh-nineteen-ounces dept.
theodp writes "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what's the noblest Amazon Kindle DX project of all? While other universities announced similar programs, Princeton is boasting its project is unique in that it will focus on sustainability by reducing the amount of electronic-reserve course materials that students print. Under the pilot program, $60,000 will reportedly be used to provide 50 lucky Princeton students with $489 Kindle DX devices loaded with materials for three courses. In a FAQ, students are told not to worry about 'this time of severe economic constraints' — Princeton and Amazon have managed to tap into a fund specifically endowed to support sustainability projects to provide Kindles at no cost. In addition to a $30,000 grant from the High Meadows Foundation, which is headed by Princeton alum Carl Ferenbach (who, coincidentally, serves on the Board of Trustees of the Environmental Defense Fund with the wife of Amazon Director John Doerr), a matching amount will be provided by Princeton alum Jeff Bezos' Amazon. The E-reader Pilot Program has more information."
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Princeton Boasts Its Kindle Project Is Noblest

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  • Taking notes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09, 2009 @01:19PM (#27889477)

    How do you take notes on these things?

    In all my studies, I REALLY liked to take notes in margins, highlight sections, and draw diagrams/charts/figures/etc.

    How are you going to do this on these ebook readers? Even if they were pen enabled, they won't have nearly the resolution needed.

    MOREOVER, I like to lay out several pages of notes and open books on my desk while I study so that I can quickly glance around.

    I don't see this as being a benefit to students. Just some shiny and fancy technology that someone somewhere thought was good.

    They have NOT thought out the usability aspect of this, just what 'sounds' good.

    • by Kagura (843695)
      I wrote a "Pro-Kindle" post down below, but I don't think digital pads are going to be the way of the near future... using a notebook, with as fine of print as you can whittle your mechanical pencil down to, will beat any digital solution for a while to come.

      And of course Kindle doesn't have touch screen... just a QWERTY pad. You can't really type fast on it, but the "click" when you push a button is satisfying and appropriate.
    • by tknd (979052)

      In all my studies, I REALLY liked to take notes in margins, highlight sections, and draw diagrams/charts/figures/etc.

      I liked to not write on the hand-outs or books because often they were not mine or I was planning on reselling them. Instead I just reference the section/page on my ruled notepad. The kindle shouldn't be seen as a replacement for handwritten notes. It should be seen as a tool for storing, distributing, and viewing published information without the bulk of paper.

      I think the kindle would be a good device because it will alleviate more of the rote memorization of the learning process and allow students to fo

      • your notes in textbooks are a benefit, not a detraction. This is one of the better aspects of buying used. Besides the price, you get the benefit of perspective from other students.

        • by Trepidity (597)

          Ideally, maybe, but most of the used textbooks I've flipped through that had significant notes and highlighting appear to have been previously owned by idiots.

    • by Draek (916851)

      I take it you aren't a literature student, then? easiest way to give them a heart attack is to say "I write stuff on my books". Bonus point if you actually do it in front of them, though they may attempt to murder you to stop you from doing such a despicable crime.

      Now, I study math and not literature but I do understand the sentiment. My notebook (of the dead tree variant) is for note-taking, hence the name, I reserve my books for reading.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by cthulu_mt (1124113)
        I guess that comes in handy if you come up with a marvelous proof for a proposition [wikipedia.org].
      • by funkatron (912521)
        In every literature class I've taken (up to age 18) writing on the books has been ok and even encouraged. Usually it was just cross references and words that had changed meanings. The books that got most annotations were Jacobean plays which are available for practically nothing so buying them and only using them for the course wasn't a problem. I don't imagine things would be very different at university level.
      • by hachete (473378)

        Noting ephemera in books has along and noble history in books. I've owned literature study books absolutely crawling with notes, sometimes useful, some not. But that was in the day when second-hand books were more plentiful. I prefer the notes to be in pencil as I could rub them out. People who use high-lighters should be shot.

        I've also owned books which had to be sliced open. That's right: books came with the pages folded and you had to cut each fold to read the individual pages.

        Now that books are becoming

    • I don't see this as being a benefit to students.

      The benefit is that instead of a pile of text books, all you need to carry around with you is one thin slate. Break it or lose it entirely (not uncommon on college campuses) and it can be replaced with all of your downloaded content.

      Furthermore, d/l the Kindle reader for your iPhone/iPod Touch and you have everything available there as well on a device you're likely to have with you always.

      Plus, you can purchase and read all of Amazon's other Kindle books,

      • yes, submitting yourself to a monopoly for provision of all your reading material is so very progressive.

      • The benefit is that instead of a pile of text books, all you need to carry around with you is one thin slate. Break it or lose it entirely (not uncommon on college campuses) and it can be replaced with all of your downloaded content.

        That's a great benefit indeed, and we're almost at the point where using paper books is a losing proposition - more and more new students will opt for digital alternatives in the coming years. Search is one of the biggest advantages, compared to a paper book with a limited index it's amazing how that alone would transform studies. Plus the other advantages you mentioned of a lightweight, universal reader. This is definitely the future of books.

        However this bright future is also a tempting lure towards many

    • Agreed. For the reasons you stated and the ones im about to outline, "e-books" are not a help to college students; they're a bane. this is just another example of a ranked university getting cocky and shoving corporate agendas down the throats of their student body.

      I moved off my (top 20) school's campus when they started cock-blocking my bit torrent claiming "computer security" issues while their official mail servers and internal lans continued to teem with viruses ranging from contemporary to ancient.

      The

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      You're right! Clearly the money should be used to buy them all convertible tablet laptops.

  • Kindle 2 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kagura (843695) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @01:19PM (#27889479)
    I just got my Kindle 2 yesterday. While I have yet to see if it sticks, right now I'm pretty impressed by it. The screen looks just like paper, and I don't think it uses any battery power to "hold" its image on the screen (it has no backlight, but neither do books). When it showed up, I peeled off the clear sticker with a printed "Amazon" logo on it, only to realize that the sticker was a clear sheet... and the "Amazon" was actually displayed on the screen and kept during shipping. Pretty cool.

    I never buy books because I'm lazy and I never know if I'll like them, plus the hassle of having to acquire them and then wait for them to get to you. I've never read Larry Niven, instead opting to read the synopsis of the plots of Wikipedia, but I have read three short stories (Core, Neutron Star, and now in the middle of Flatlander) and I am loving it. I'm writing this because an eBook reader is better than I thought it would be, and it would probably be better than you think, as well. I like it and I'm impressed.
    • I never buy books because I'm lazy and I never know if I'll like them, plus the hassle of having to acquire them and then wait for them to get to you. I've never read Larry Niven, instead opting to read the synopsis of the plots of Wikipedia....

      Perhaps this is the perfect market for Kindle - people too lazy to read books, who think the only way to find books is online, and who are satisfied with Wikipedia summaries. While there are certainly advantages to a handheld portable library, nothing will replace the real book.

      And, seriously, check out a bookstore or library some time -- browse through the shelves and pick up books at random, take one home with you -- I guarantee you'll find it more satisfying than "the hassle of having to acquire them

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        So what would you recommend for me? For years I've wanted to read Green's History of the English People (not the short one) but couldn't bring myself to pay hundreds of dollars for the books from a collector, just to read them and risk damaging them.

        They're free from Gutenberg though, but a pain to read on a computer. On my Kindle, they're perfectly available, for free.

        So I think your characterization is inaccurate for some of the Kindle users.

        • Obviously GP's point is that to get the true book experience, you must destroy the book. Perhaps GP is espousing Nazi-esque knowledge control techniques, not through burning, but reading the book over and over until it's unusable. While it takes a little longer, the end result is just as effective as burning.
      • Bzzzt... I can download an e-book quicker than I can drive to the library and back.
        Try again.
        • Bzzzt... I can download an e-book quicker than I can drive to the library and back.

          Try again.

          You try again. Yes you can download an e-book quicker - that wasn't my point at all.

    • Go to Gutenberg. Download books.

      This script will help you fix up any *.txt files you want to look right on your Kindle:

      #!/usr/bin/ruby -an
      if ($_.size==2) then
      printf("\n\n");
      elsif ($_.size==1) then
      printf("\n\n");
      else
      chomp!
      printf("%s ",$_);
      end

      Also, get the Mobi books software to make your own ebooks.

      http://www.mobipocket.com/en/DownloadSoft/default.asp?Language=EN [mobipocket.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Isn't that a bit much? Are Princeton trying to publicly announce it's expensive as hell to study there?

    • by langelgjm (860756)

      That's exactly what I was wondering...

      Throw in the leather cover and extended warranty, and your Kindle costs a maximum of $638... x 50 students, $31,900 for hardware.

      That leaves $28,100 for the course materials... / 50 students = $562 per student, / 3 courses = $187 per student per course for electronic materials.

      If all those students were law students, and they were all buying their books new, maybe that would make sense. Otherwise, it just sounds like a ripoff. Used textbooks, even multiple ones per cour

      • by Evets (629327) *

        I know even back in the early '90s there were a few courses that I spent ~$200 on books alone, let alone the money at kinkos for copies of presentations and notes, lab materials, or other required merchandise. And I went to a gulp state school. I don't think this is too far out of line. I imagine they are targetting the classes where Kindle can show the most value for this initial pilot.

        Of course, at the end of the semester, I got to sell most of it back to the bookstore.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by langelgjm (860756)

          Maybe my case is unusual, but I'm fairly sure I never spent more than $150 on books for a single class, and even that was rare. I went to a state flagship university for undergrad.

          The most expensive books were for basic science classes (well, and that one accounting book I bought before realizing that I wanted nothing to do with the business school), running around $80 to $110...

          This year, I had to buy a law textbook... the "revised" 4th edition was selling at Barnes and Noble for about $100. I bought the (

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by steve.howard (988489)
            Advanced mathematics and science textbooks are (very) expensive. My textbooks for calc-based physics, differential equations, and discrete math all ran me well over $100 (highest was $180). For some reason, the assigned textbook is also always the worst in its field...
          • Literature and history students have it the worst. Most of their classes at the upper levels require multiple books per class. My wife, working on her masters degree, had a single class that required six or seven books - total bill was over 200 dollars.
      • by cdrguru (88047)

        I think you forgot the $20,000 administration fee. The organization behind this charity work needs that for the staff.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by artor3 (1344997)

      $1200 a student? That's not that much. Apparently someone hasn't looked at the cost of textbooks lately.

      (It's still a waste though)

      • $1200 a student? That's not that much. Apparently someone hasn't looked at the cost of textbooks lately.

        (It's still a waste though)

        That's in addition to whatever obscene fee amazon charges for the actual reading material.

        Btw, I took some pretty "expensive" majors in terms of textbooks at a highly ranked university and never had to pay more than 600.

  • iLiad supports markup. Kindle is only suitable for non-work or non-school related reading, i.e. fiction, etc.

    • Re:Why use Kindle? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @01:43PM (#27889647) Homepage Journal

      Why is 'markup' a requirement for it to be useable in the classroom?

      i have *never* defaced one of my textbooks, ever. Even my lab books remain pristine, as i made any notes on blank paper instead.

      • by CSMatt (1175471)

        Just because you don't deface your textbooks for your own benefit does not mean that others don't find it better for them.

        • by nurb432 (527695)

          I didn't say others don't, i was only commenting on the OP's attitude that its a *requirement*, since not everyone needs to for it to be useful in an educational environment I don't agree that it is...

        • by Weezul (52464)

          I actually never deface my own textbooks either, unless correcting a mistake. I'd even imagine that people who even get PhDs normally never needed such nemonic aids highlighters, etc.

          I would however feel morally obligated to cast my faculty vote against any kindle based book textbook, simply because so many students engage in this practice. I'm not paid to teach only the smart kids, I'm paid to teach all the kids.

          I'm pretty sure I would drag the rest of the department's option with me. You can rest assur

      • Because many individuals like to mark up their books.

        I generally don't mark mine up. That being said, I do mark up some of my books.

        An ebook reader that allows markup with text notes and electronic highlighting and the ability to draw figures on a page will be a killer device.

        As for resolution, it is definitely doable. Easiest way is to use the whole screen as an input for a pen, with the ability to shrink it down to post-it size or smaller once you finish.

        The added benefit of being able to search not jus

      • I think GP said "markup" not "marker" or "mark on".

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markup_language [wikipedia.org]

        Markup is a significant requirement for textbooks, as it is required for things like proper image placement, equations, bulleted/numbered lists etc.

      • by Eighty7 (1130057)
        Digital books can't be defaced. The reason it's a requirement is it's one of the best ways to fix it in memory. It's hard to explain, but ebooks don't allow you to get a feel for a book. When searching through a real book, you easily flip through it knowing the section you want is a few pages from this image, about halfway down this page. Lacking this, markup becomes the best option.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by langelgjm (860756)

      The Kindle DX does support "markup", in the sense of bookmarks, annotations, notes, etc. It doesn't have a Wacom touchscreen or pen input like the iRex devices, no.

      On the other hand, I'll put up with keyboard-only input to get a larger screen than the iLiad, and something 1/2 the price of the DR-1000.

    • by CSMatt (1175471)

      The iLiad also costs $700. Kudos to iRex for making a tablet e-book reader, but at that price it's smarter for students to just get a used tablet PC instead.

  • I considered buying a Kindle last year because I got sick of having to manage what books I'd have to take with me to school, and got tired of the weight. But Amazon only had 2 of 6 textbooks that I needed, and even then they weren't discounted much (maybe this is peculiar to me), so I didn't end up buying one. If they got serious about higher education and managed to get a larger percentage of books I'd probably try it out.

    That said, I'm not sure how comfortable I am with having my books in digital only for

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cdrguru (88047)

      The Kindle supports text copying from a book, so you can clip out a section of text and it would likely be more usable than something scanned from a physical book. Not an issue at all. You can also take screenshots of the Kindle screen but that is limited to the physical display, not any particular text.

      I am sure the DX will have at least this capability, if not something better in terms of screen shots.

    • The new DX supports PDF out of the box and since it is an appropriate size for reading a PDF (8.5X11 / A4)those scans are perfectly good.

  • by YA_Python_dev (885173) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @01:34PM (#27889569) Journal

    I don't know why most people think that Kindle is the only e-book reader available.

    It isn't. It's not even the best.

    Check out the iLiad [wikipedia.org]: it has a bigger screen, higher resolution, much better connectivity (wifi, ethernet, SD/MMC, CF, USB host and device, which means it can read USB keys, but it can also appear as an USB key to a PC) and most important is very open: no DRM bullshit, it runs Linux and if you want you can get root access (without having to crack into your own device), install new applications or whatever...

    Disclaimer: I have no relation with iRex, the maker of iLiad, I'm only an happy customer that's pissed off by all the attention that inferior and DRM-infested products like the Kindle get, while a lot of people don't even know that there are alternatives.

    P.S.: on a similar note: the iPods are not the only MP3 players, not even the best ones. It's a big world...

    • by langelgjm (860756) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @01:47PM (#27889681) Journal

      First of all, the iLiad doesn't have a bigger screen or higher resolution than the Kindle DX. Bigger than the Kindle 2, yes, but the reason the DX is a big deal is because of the larger screen.

      Now the iRex DR-1000 is bigger than the Kindle DX, but it also costs nearly $1000. I was looking at the DR-1000, but the reviews seem so mixed... some people are very happy, others really pissed that they spent so much money and got a buggy and apparently very fragile device.

      In spite of all that, I was still thinking about dropping a grand on a large e-reader. Then, the DX came along - large, half the cost of the DR-1000, and from a reputable company with a large volume of previous devices sold. iRex may not be a bad company, but they don't have US offices (only through resellers), and their communication with customers leaves much to be desired. My customer experiences with Amazon have been fantastic (had two items replaced w/o question: one had never been delivered, other was defective).

      • First of all, the iLiad doesn't have a bigger screen or higher resolution than the Kindle DX.

        Yeah, whatever: you are comparing a product that has been available for years to one that is has not yet been released. I call BS.

        To compare apples to apples, the first generation of iLiads has a bigger screen that the first generation of Kindle (including Kindle 2) and the same is true for the latest offerings. And I'm being generous here because the iRex DR-1000 is actually available now, the Kindle DX is not.

        • by langelgjm (860756)

          Yeah, whatever: you are comparing a product that has been available for years to one that is has not yet been released. I call BS.

          What exactly are you calling BS at? Are you saying you think the DX is vaporware? That's a pretty bold claim, considering Amazon (not Phantom or someone) is already taking orders for it, and has specifications posted, and they have photos and videos of it.

          Display: 9.7" diagonal E-Ink® electronic paper display, 1200 x 824 pixel resolution at 150 ppi, 16-level gray scale.

          That is both physically larger, and higher resolution than the iLiad (8.1-inch (diagonal) Electronic Paper Display 768 x 1024 pixels resolution, 160 DPI.)

          And yes, I know the DR-1000 is available now. It also is about twice the price of the Kindle DX, and i

    • One more thing I forgot: unlike the Kindle, the iLiad also has a touchscreen and you can take notes, make drawings and add corrections directly on the pages of any file supported, including PDF and HTML files, just like you would do with a paper book.

      But really I want to stress that the most important "feature" is that is not Defective By Design: with the Kindle you have to send your PDF or HTML files to Amazon to be converted to the proprietary and DRM'ed format used, which will then only work on a single

      • by langelgjm (860756)

        But really I want to stress that the most important "feature" is that is not Defective By Design: with the Kindle you have to send your PDF or HTML files to Amazon to be converted to the proprietary and DRM'ed format used, which will then only work on a single device, no matter what license you have...

        I am not a kindle apologist, but with the DX, that is simply not true. The DX has a built in PDF reader. That's another reason why it's a big deal, and a major advance over the Kindle 2. I think you need to look up the specs [amazon.com] for the DX before commenting further, you're clearly confusing it with the Kindle 2 - it is significantly different.

        Also, if it can read PDFs natively, that means you can convert pretty much anything to PDF yourself and read it natively. Just get the PDFCreator print driver - volia - DO

      • But really I want to stress that the most important "feature" is that is not Defective By Design: with the Kindle you have to send your PDF or HTML files to Amazon to be converted to the proprietary and DRM'ed format used, which will then only work on a single device,

        You are entirely wrong about this. You can convert your PDF into a mobidoc on your desktop and copy the prc file to your kindle over the USB port. I do this all the time, and it works out great. No DRM, doesn't involve Amazon at all.

    • Don't forget about the fact that, with the iLiad/DR1000S, you can annotate/write/underline/etc. in/on PDFs with a stylus (although I found the supplied stylus fairly imprecise, you can replace that by another pen, like the Cross Executive (Capless) pen); something I find very useful while studying/reading. That said, the iLiad probably does lack something by way of user-friendliness, (compared to the Kindle) and is more expensive (although, if you don't care about WiFi, getting the Book Edition will lower t

    • by CSMatt (1175471)

      and most important is very open: no DRM bullshit

      The iLiad has support for Mibipocket's DRM.

    • but it can also appear as an USB key to a PC) and most important is very open: no DRM bullshit, it runs Linux

      I have a first-gen Kindle, and I am quite satisfied with it. It runs Linux too. It's a USB storage device too. It reads non-DRM ebooks [manybooks.net] just fine. There is "DRM bullshit" if and only if you buy your books from Amazon, which is not a requirement.

      I bought it to read books, not to try to get root on it. If getting root is really worth spending an extra $500, be my guest, but I'll keep my money and spend it on books.

  • If its funded by tax dollars i want my money back, or a free kindle DX of my own.

    I should have a say-so in how my $ is spent.

  • Sustainable? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @01:42PM (#27889629) Homepage

    What possible reason could there be for anyone thinking that a Kindle represents any sort of "sustainable" anything? Because it reduces the use of a recyclable commodity called paper?

    If anything, the production of a Kindle uses vastly more resources than any paper and printing operation. In addition, from my understanding of it (being a Kindle 2 owner) the Kindle display has a rather short lifespan of around 2 years or so. And then it is dead and must be replaced - or at least the contrast is unreadably bad so it must be replaced. What is the lifespan of a modern textbook that is cared for at all well? 20 years? More?

    No, I don't think there is anything even remotely "sustainable" about a Kindle and anyone believing that needs to have their head examined. Also, the level of technology required to produce a Kindle and the resources that go into making one are likely enough to feed 100 starving Africans for every Kindle not made. Now that would be a step in the direction of "sustaniable."

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by maxume (22995)

      In my experience, the lifespan of a modern textbook is about 3 years. I mean, you can still read it after that, but good luck trying to use it in a class.

      There is some potential that e-readers could be used to replace coursepacks and other printed/photocopied material, so it isn't just textbooks that might be replaced.

      Also, the article mentions that there are 60 people trying it, so I wouldn't freak out just yet.

      • by cpotoso (606303)
        And in my experience as a University professor (nearly 10 years) the book changes are usually insignificant ("major change" is that they may change the order of the end-of-chapter problems...). I would recommend to anyone that has a 3+ year old book to simply use it, the only thing you need is to photocopy the end-of-chapter problems...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TheLongshot (919014)

      Considering that textbooks get replaced all the time, your estimate for 20 years is unrealistic.

      You are correct that the information doesn't change much, but the companies who make textbooks want to sell more, so they issue a new edition, rearrange some of the information in there, and then suddenly the secondary market now has an obsolete book which isn't acceptable for whatever class you are taking.

      As for lifespan, my Sony Reader is still going strong after a year of pretty heavy usage. Considering that

      • by dulridge (454779)

        OK, it was 30 years ago, but I managed to get away with using quite a lot of my uncle's textbooks - he was an undergraduate in 1945 - I used quite a few of his books in 1978-9. Unfortunately, he died in 1978 so i couldn't pick his brains.

        I still have some of them and they are still exactly as comprehensible as they were when I graduated. However, I'm not a chemist any more and looking at a first year chemistry paper a few years ago, the only question I could answer was the one that said: Name:

        It would appea

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by TheLongshot (919014)

          No doubt. I kept my Calculus textbook for just that reason.

          Often for a class, tho, you will need a textbook since often the professor will teach to that textbook. Sometimes you will need the questions or problems defined in the text book for some assignments.

          Then again, some subjects don't hold up for 20 years. For example, history text books tend to reflect the times that they were written in. One that was written in the 60s would have a different slant than one written in the 90s.

    • 20 years? We have acid-free paper these days, you know. More like indefinite. I regularly read books at my library from between the 1850s and the 1920s. Most of them have never even been re-bound.

  • by Abjifyicious (696433) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @01:46PM (#27889675)

    Paper is plenty sustainable. It's a renewable resource that can be recycled easily and cheaply. Obviously it takes some energy to manufacture and ship, but so does the kindle.

    The "sustainability" claim is obviously just an excuse for something they wanted to do anyway.

  • by ucblockhead (63650) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @01:58PM (#27889799) Homepage Journal

    You want "Most Noble".

    • The Oxford English Dictionary attests both forms. Some uses of "noblest".

      1616 SHAKESPEARE Julius Caesar (1623) V. v. 67 This was the Noblest Roman of them all.
      1818 BYRON Childe Harold IV. cxlvii, Relic of nobler days, and noblest arts!
      1976 S. F. HALLGARTEN German Wines vi. 61 The Riesling vine is the noblest that anyone in Germany has up till now succeeded in cultivating for the production of white wines.

      These Kindles come with dictionaries, too. Maybe you could use one.

  • Will they be able to keep devices after they leave school?

    If so, Will they be able to continue to access the "e" books permanently, or choose to sell (some/all) of them to a bookstore (but keep their kindle)?

    I wonder who is making this endowment. It wouldnt happen to be book publishers, would it? After all, they will get to save on physical publication costs, and at the same time prevent any of these books from finding their way to the resale market, if they get this to catch on. I'm also assuming that they

  • Something I wrote on that topic last year:
    "Post-Scarcity Princeton"
    http://www.pdfernhout.net/post-scarcity-princeton.html [pdfernhout.net]
    "Wikipedia. GNU/Linux. WordNet. Google. These things were not on the visible horizon to most of us even as little as twenty years ago. Now they have remade huge aspects of how we live. Are these free-to-the-user informational products and services all there is to be on the internet or are they the tip of a metaphorical iceberg of free stuff and free services

    • Are you taking Peak Oil into account when you talk about the end of scarcity?
      • Yes. I don't think Peak Oil is show stopper issue. It has been said said, "The stone age did not end when we ran out of rocks, and the oil age will not end because we run out of oil." Examples:
        http://www.nashvillefossils.com/resources/pages/historyofuse.html [nashvillefossils.com]

        See also:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brittle_Power [wikipedia.org]
        "Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security is a 1982 book by Amory B. Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins, prepared originally as a Pentagon study, and re-released in 200

        • There are indeed lots of alternative energy sources, but none of them are as cheap and easy to harness as oil is. Photovoltaic cells currently require oil to produce, ship, distribute, etc. They are also prohibitively expensive. If society as a whole were funding the research and production capabilities to harness alternative energy sources then I would agree with you, but as things stand I believe that the diminishing oil supplies are going to hit the world economy like a ton of bricks.
  • The best e-reader I have ever seen is BeBook [mybebook.com].
  • Wake me when I can download all my materials onto the thing.

    As-is it's just a ridiculously expensive/fragile thing I have to pack in addition to my perfectly competent laptop and 40 LBS of other books.

    or

    Just give me the damn PDF's and save your money. For $60k they could have made a big dent in the production of a few high quality Free textbooks and save thousands of times that in dead tree books.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm 15 years out of college and still have some of the books on my bookshelf. Will students using Kindle get to keep theirs?

    I got the impression that Kindle books were tied to an Amazon subscription, and if you lose the subscription, you lose the books. Even if that isn't true, will they still have these books for the rest of their lives? Aren't they in a proprietary format? Can you back them up?

    Kindle (and iPhone) is cool tech, but it isn't Free (as-in-speech). You're rights to what you 'buy' are limited,

  • Buy the students a laptop or tablet instead.

    I'm currently at a university that deployed a laptop program and there is sooo much more you can do with 200 dollars worth of electronics more.

    I guess I come from somewhere where we don't have so much disposable income that we can get a Kindle in addition to our normal Laptop which students inevitably have.

  • People who say the DX will be great for textbooks have clearly never used a Kindle. I am an owner of both the K1 and the K2 and there are many things that it does exceedingly well. Unfortunately the things that it does NOT do well are exactly the things that students need to work both quickly and efficiently. What things? Well for starters:

    1. Page numbers. The Kindle doesn't have page numbers like a traditional book... Instead it uses page numbering system that is fluid based upon font size. Using the sma

    • by Kredal (566494)

      Points 2 and 3 are valid, and yes, hilighting and navigating are slower than a paper book. Point one, however, you're way off base about. "Locations" in Kindle books are absolute, down to the word. It doesn't matter what text size you're looking at, location 500 will be the same on each device. So rather than Page 20, the Kindle-enabled teacher would say navigate to location 232... the students would hit menu, go to location, and type 232... just as fast, if not faster, than trying to flip to a new page

      • by automag (834164) *

        Well look at that... Indeed they are! I stand corrected. Thanks!

        Of course there's still the problem of the location numbers not matching the numbers in an actual textbook (I'll grant that this may be an 'obsolete' issue with the better .pdf support- only time will tell). What I can say with certainty is that if this is not addressed in the DX, then it will provide difficulties in 'compatibility' between those reading traditional books, and those on a Kindle. I've already run into this problem on several o

  • The most important question before the Kindle should be used, can these eTextbooks be resold and loaned to other students?

    If not, then this is a definite step in the wrong direction, textbooks are far too expensive and would probably get much worse if used wasn't an option.

  • Under the pilot program, $60,000 will reportedly be used to provide 50 lucky Princeton students with $489 Kindle DX devices loaded with materials for three courses.

    50 * $489 is $24,450. Sounds like Amazon is even luckier than the students, since Princeton is spending $60,000 on $25,000 worth of Kindles.

    • However they're loaded with materials for 3 courses.

      3 courses * 50 students = 150 textbooks.

      $35,000 / 150 textbooks = $233.33 / textbook

      Taking that into consideration, the expense seems more reasonable.

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        $233 per digital textbook copy seems reasonable?

        • Well, no, not really. But being a college student myself I know that high-end math books can easily go for $300 or $400. I don't feel like it's a fair market price but that is in the ballpark of the going cost for a textbook. Princeton is so expensive and well-to-do anyway that they probably don't mind assigning their students really expensive textbooks.

          At the very least you can expect that a fair chunk of the $60,000 is going to publishers. Of course I don't doubt that Amazon will be making some money in t

  • to provide Kindles at no cost

    "No cost". Right... I love it, actually — the spin-management at its finest. Here are two identical questions. Guess, which one is more likely to get a positive answer from a busy voter:

    1. Do you want to be able to get a free gizmo?
    2. Do you want to pay for somebody else's gizmo?

    This is how taxpayers get suckered into paying for more and more stuff through the government — causing 30-70% to be wasted (through theft, incompetence, and — mostly — "legitimate"

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor. -- Wernher von Braun

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