Saturday, July 18, 2009

The DNC Kindle Plan

Not that it needs to be said, but...

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.

4 comments:

  1. A Kindle is good for people who need to carry around a large amount of reading material. No need to compel a Kindle on anyone; students can make their own decisions. The market will eventually sort out the relative use of electronic and printed matter.

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  2. > A Kindle is good for people who need to carry around a large amount of reading material.

    No it isn't. It may be preferable to carrying around a large number of books, but it is notably inferior to most other ways of carrying around books - for example, as I noted in my post, a netbook.

    > No need to compel a Kindle on anyone; students can make their own decisions. The market will eventually sort out the relative use of electronic and printed matter.

    That's a touching faith in the market.

    The way the market really works is, Amazon pays a certain amount of money or other considerations to the DNC and other organizations in order to get an endorsement, and again to individual universities in order to get them to require that students purchase a Kindle in order to access textbooks.

    Students, having enrolled with no prior knowledge that this would ever be a requirement, now must purchase a Kindle in order to graduate. As Kindles are not the de facto ebook reasders, and as they no not allow free texts, free texts are essentially eliminated from the curriculum.

    That's how markets work. 'Students making their own decisions' has nothing to do with it.

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  3. I agree, carriyng too much books is annoying. It is better to use a kindle system, thats the reason i rather spend money on digital stuff.

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  4. I totally agree about your comments about the superiority of cheap netbooks over a Kindle. They even have color screens!!!!!.

    Joking aside the recent 1984/Animal Farm debacle also raises very serious questions about what rights we have to the data on our own devices.

    http://teacherdudebbq.blogspot.com/2009/07/books-arent-dead-just-brains-kindle-and.html

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I welcome your comments - I'm really sorry about the moderation, but Google's filters are basically ineffective.