Kindle the college demographic

There have been some recent news articles about how Amazon is planning on entering into the textbook market by making a textbook version of their Kindle eBook reader. I think I speak for everyone when I say, finally, what took so long? Some of us (me) have had had this idea for some time now (three years) and was hoping someone would do it (I have the design to prove it), and do it right. The college textbook market has been almost comically redicilous, but the current options are so poor that they can still dominate. So many of us have tried buying books online and although prices are much better, there is a significant hassle associated with it. In most cases you have to wait until the first day of class to get the syllabus, only then can you figure out exactly what books you need (especially editions) and order them. Media mail is awesomely cheap, but coupled with slow processing times can make ordering online an extremely slow process. The alternative is to download textbooks via torrent. All I can say is having three huge textbooks on a flash drive is absolutely awesome. Furthermore, being able to search the text within the books is almost priceless.
       Clearly the Kindle is a very intriguing idea, especially in the textbook market. For a long time people have said that eBook readers were just flat out sub par. Hard to read, poor battery life, small memory were the most common complaints, and the Kindle seems to have solved some of these (battery life is mediocre).
       In my reincarnation of the eBook reader I took a different route then the Kindle. I really didn’t see the need for a keyboard, all you really need is a power button, two buttons to flip the pages. In the case of textbooks I though it would be very cool to have some highlight functionality, so add a stylus and you could highlight portions of the text.
       When I look at the Kindle there are a few things that I can only hope for which would make the Kindle a useful tool. First, some form of highlight/tagging feature which allows you to select parts of text. Then once selected you can iterate through all of the highlighted items for a quick review of the most important parts. Next, if Google’s $700 stock price has taught us anything, search is key. There is a keyboard on the thing, please make use of it and allow people to search through text books. Sometimes you need a quick reminder of the truth table for a clocked d-latch, and if I cant search in the textbook everyone will just resort to searching for it online, or spending a while finding it in the book.
       I read an article which touted the Kindle as the next iPod. Please. As innovative and interesting as the Kindle if it was 1/10th as popular as iPods I think it would be a success in most people’s books. Its price point has to drop significantly from $350 for it to even have a chance.


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