Responding to Democratic Group’s Proposal: Give Each Student a Kindle
The idea is a bad idea, not because paper texts are less expensive or any great shakes – they’re not – but because the Kindle is bad overpriced and inefficient technology.
Providing students with netbooks (or having them buy their own, for those of you who think any government expense is communism) will provide free access to the world’s literature without Kindle’s proprietary technology, invasive content management, and high costs.
When textbooks – especially at higher education levels – can cost $100, the savings of a $250 netbook become apparent – but only if you're not paying $99 for the electronic version of the textbook. Electronic media works only if costs for digital materials are substantially less than paper materials.
And they can be. Indeed, the cost for most digital materials is tending toward zero. Only when a distributor can lock you into a proprietary platform does the cost remain high. Open access materials – everything from Project Gutenberg to Wikipedia to Media Awareness Network – will deliver the savings Kindle cannot.