ERIC Number: EJ846673
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May-15
Reference Count: 0
How Kindle Could Change the Textbook Market
Young, Jeffrey R.
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n36 pA4 May 2009
Amazon is subsidizing pilot projects at six institutions--Arizona State, Case Western Reserve, Pace, and Princeton Universities, Reed College, and the University of Virginia's business school. It's picking up half the tab for the experiment on each campus, in which some sections of a few courses will be given the new Kindle DX, as the device is called, and others will use traditional books. The "read-offs" will be studied closely by college officials to see which group of students has a better learning experience. The tough question is: How will Amazon succeed where all previous electronic-textbook efforts have failed? Many experts interviewed by "The Chronicle" expressed skepticism that students would buy and carry around a Kindle for textbooks, mainly because of the device's $489 price tag. But the gadget might do something that current providers of e-textbooks have failed at--making digital textbooks seem cool. Most college students--more than 80 percent--already own portable machines that can display electronic textbooks. They're called laptops. And more than half of all major textbooks are already offered in electronic form for downloading to those laptops. Yet so far sales of electronic textbooks are tiny, despite efforts by college bookstores to make the option to buy digital versions clearer by advertising e-books next to the printed ones on their shelves. What the textbook industry needs is the equivalent of an iTunes store for e-books, say some experts, who note that sales of digital music never took off until Apple created the iPod and an easy-to-use online music marketplace. That's why Amazon seems like a promising entrant. Except for one thing: Publishers have already set up an online store meant to serve as the iTunes of e-textbooks, and it has been slow to catch on. Perhaps students and professors just need a demonstration of what an e-book can do and they'll jump in--especially considering that electronic texts typically cost half as much as printed versions. Amazon has the marketing power and cachet to provide that demo.
Descriptors: Handheld Devices, Textbooks, Pilot Projects, Colleges, School Business Relationship, Electronic Publishing, College Students, College Faculty, Attitudes
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://chronicle.com/
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A