Academic institutions reject Kindle

There has been a great deal of talk about devices such as the famous ebook reader, the Amazon Kindle and the up and coming Apple Tablet replacing the way individuals interact with printed media. However, their success in doing so has always been up to the end user's personal preference.

News reported on Beta News shows just how unpopular trials of the Amazon Kindle DX have been in academic institutions interested in trialling the technology, as a study aid for their respective students.

Since the large screen Kindle DX debuted in the spring, a number of academic institutions from secondary schools upward, ran pilot programs which tested the device's viability as a textbook replacement. Amazon announced at launch that a Kindle pilot program for university students was scheduled at at ASU, Princeton, Reed College (Ore.), UVA Darden School of Business, and Case Western Reserve University. The two-semester long program was designed to compare students' experiences with the Kindle DX with those of students using traditional textbooks in the same class, in order to ascertain if the device could be a viable replacement for the more traditional ink and paper.

According to Beta News, two trial universities running Kindle DX pilot programs have rejected the device as a potential textbook replacement. Their reasons for a rejection were: a poor feature set and the controversial accessibility issues. Primary among these is the text-to-speech capability. This text-to-speech capability came under fire shortly after the Kindle 2 debuted, by the Author's Guild, who argued they wanted writers to be compensated for the spoken "performance" of books, or otherwise have the text-to-speech function disabled.

According to Beta News, The University of Wisconsin-Madison and Syracuse University were two establishments running these pilot programs which recently decided not to adopt the device until its features are improved, including additions made for visually impared students. Ken Frazier, the University of Wisconsin-Madison's director of libraries gave the following summary of the trial at his institution:

"The big disappointment was learning that the Kindle DX is not accessible to the blind. Advancements in text-to-speech technology have created a market opportunity for an e-book reading device that is fully accessible for everyone. This version of the Kindle e-book reader missed the mark. It is relatively easy to envision an improved e-book reading device that meets the needs of the entire university community. Such a device would include universal design for accessibility, higher-quality graphics, and improved navigation and note-taking. I think that there will be a huge payoff for the company that creates a truly universal e-book reader."

This bad news came just a day after Intel announced an e-reader designed especially for the visually impaired.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said in a statement: "The Federation does not oppose electronic textbooks; in fact, it believes they hold great promise for blind students if they are accessible. But as long as the interface of the Kindle DX is inaccessible to the blind - denying blind students access to electronic textbooks or the advanced features available to read and annotate them -- it is our position that no university should consider this device to be a viable e-book solution for its students."

It seems that perhaps the ebook technology could be trying to run before it can walk - is it not simply enough to simply ask an ebook reader to do what it says on the box without them pushed to be integrated into our academic institutions? Or, perhaps it is a technology Neowin readers can see flying once the creases are ironed out?

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Makes Sense.

If you have a "standard" format for ebooks that any manufacture could build hardware for, and the ebooks and DRM worked on all the different hardware, they may consider this.

However, there priority to a specific company. What happens when Kindle gets exclusive for one book vender, and a compositor takes another, expect students to buy 2 readers?

Also the accessibility features (lack of) as pointed in the article make a very good point. How do you differential between a publisher actively blocking text to speech where there is need to a visual imparement?

I have been reading ebooks on my pocket pcs for years, using many free and easily accessible formats, as well as purchasing and using excellent references and new novels. I carry my books in my pocket, and read them whenever I get a free moment. Waiting for my turn at checkout I will a dozen pages.

_The big disappointment was learning that the Kindle DX is not accessible to the blind._

Like paper books which e-Book reader tend to replace are better and accessible to the blind.

This text-to-speech capability came under fire shortly after the Kindle 2 debuted, by the Author's Guild, who argued they wanted writers to be compensated for the spoken "performance" of books, or otherwise have the text-to-speech function disabled.

WTF? They honesty expect to be paid for a computer's reading of their books? Maybe if their publishers weren't so stingy with royalties, these clowns wouldn't make such preposterous demands.

They'll be demanding that my two-and-a-half-year-old pay them each time I read him a bedtime story next.....

Seems like not to long ago some universities were giving away iPods to incoming students with course syllabus and stuff.

I would think Universities (of all places) would be pushing for E-Book textbooks.

I think that the main thing is they don't want to adopt a specific reader with a specific DRM solution. I can see E-textbook piracy being a real problem on college campuses. Maybe they should just include the cost of E-textbooks and the readers with the cost of tuition.

Let me see if I got this right, Ken Frazier is complaining that the Kindle is not compadable for blind people... but neither are books! So isn't he compaining about the same issue that books have?

I have a co-worker who is still in school and carries a min of 20lbs of books! I think i'd much rather carry a 1/2lb Kindle, right?

Peace,
James

jameswjrose said,
Let me see if I got this right, Ken Frazier is complaining that the Kindle is not compadable for blind people... but neither are books! So isn't he compaining about the same issue that books have?

I have a co-worker who is still in school and carries a min of 20lbs of books! I think i'd much rather carry a 1/2lb Kindle, right?

Peace,
James

ever heard of braille?

The Kindle and other eBook readers are nice, albeit when you are studying and writing graduate papers, and such, you are at times setting there with up to five to eight books needed to put the paper together. Having five to eight Kindles can be just a little too costly.

I'm at Case Western. The biggest complaint I have heard is the lack if color. For example, we are using it here as a replacement for the CHEM 111 textbook, and there are a lot of photographs where what they are showing is a difference in color!

Otherwise, I have heard its great for pleasure reading, its designed use.

If it follows the current model you will have the privilege of paying $200+ for the reader and then still paying $100-300 per textbook.

I have an old RCA (Gemstar) eBook reader that I've used for years. Gemstar folded the eBook division so I can't buy books for it any more, but I've read tons of great books from Project Gutenberg with it. The Kindle sounds like it's great, but it's just way too expensive.

The issues the library director pointed out are all things that Amazon could work with and enhance in software, but I don't think they'll have much luck with the stingy authors that complained about the "performance" royalties. How do they know that people aren't reading the print books aloud?

half the students in college hardly have money to buy books.. let alone pocket out money for the kindle.. and then pay some sort of fee on top of that just for a book. There were sooo many classes that I went to in college without a text book.. lol just cause i was broke.. :P

dimithrak said,
half the students in college hardly have money to buy books.. let alone pocket out money for the kindle.. and then pay some sort of fee on top of that just for a book. There were sooo many classes that I went to in college without a text book.. lol just cause i was broke.. :P

You pay more money in one semester on books than the entire cost of the Kindle.

One of my books was $300. I am not joking.

Yea same here. I think I paid about $500 total this semester, and last fall I spent $850 for my books and my brothers not including 2 classes of his that I was able to give him my old books.

Xilo said,
You pay more money in one semester on books than the entire cost of the Kindle.

One of my books was $300. I am not joking.


The Kindle would still be more expensive. You'd have to buy the Kindle and the books. You won't buy the Kindle and get the books free...

So you're adding another costly link to the chain. So I agree with dimithrak that it is too expensive for students.

Haha yea. The funny thing is, you fork out round $500 in books and only use it for a semester. Most of the time you don't even need it.

Billus said,
Haha yea. The funny thing is, you fork out round $500 in books and only use it for a semester. Most of the time you don't even need it.

I learned to wait after 1st week of class to determine if I should buy the books or not. :P

You buy ebook reader and use illegal books copies in the internet. In that case it is worth buying it. Otherwise maybe Amazon used & cheap books is better solution for the student.