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Kindle so-so for students, UW study concludes

Brier Dudley's Blog | Kindle so-so for students, UW study concludes | Seattle Times Newspaper
Seven months into the study, more than 60 percent of the students had stopped using their Kindle regularly for academic reading -- and these were computer science students, who are presumably more sympathetic to an electronic book.
I'm not surprised that an eReader doesn't replace books. Taking notes and highlighting are part of the reading process that a Kindle or other eReader doesn't easily replicate.

I recall what a page looks like, from the graphics to the pattern of paragraphs. On an eReader, I can't always locate where a bit of information is. You can't say it is on "Page X" because the pagination changes with font size and other choices a user can change.

Many of us would like to imagine eReaders catching on with universities because textbooks are so expensive. The prices of textbooks are outrageous: my last course text was $100 for students and could not be resold because it was customized by the university. If a student pays $100 or more per course, that's at least $800 to $1000 a year for books. An eReader is $300 or less, such as the Color Nook or Kindle DX.

The problem is, students don't find the eReader a convenient experience. If six of ten stop using it, there is definitely a problem. I'd also wonder how well students recall what they read on screen. I know I tend to skim when I read an eBook. I don't pause and go back to reread as I do with a printed page.

Taking notes? Forget it. I use paper because I remember what I write more than what I type. Plus, typing on a Kindle (small keyboard) or Nook (touchscreen) is awkward. I have seen students taking notes on an iPad, but I would probably purchase a small keyboard for something like the iPad.

Maybe the worst reason an eReader won't replace textbooks? The publishers didn't offer a substantial discount! You end up paying as much for many books as you might in print. Students save money buying used texts when compared to a Kindle and new eBooks.

Some publishers promise students will "rent" books in the future. The problem with that? I already see the local college bookstore offers a form of rental. What's the benefit to renting the eBook? It still costs more than "renting" the print edition.

I do love eBooks. Why?

  1. I have learned I can highlight, copy, and paste right into my academic papers. That beats retyping passages and making mistakes. 
  2. The books are convenient, when compared to having stacks of books on my desk. 
  3. I can read in bed without a nightlight. My wife appreciates that.

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