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Tuesday, 29th September 2009

E-Books: Princeton University: Kindles Yet to Woo University Users

From the Article:

When the University announced its Kindle e-reader pilot program last May, administrators seemed cautiously optimistic that the e-readers would both be sustainable and serve as a valuable academic tool. But less than two weeks after 50 students received the free Kindle DX e-readers, many of them said they were dissatisfied and uncomfortable with the devices.

On Wednesday, the University revealed that students in three courses — WWS 325: Civil Society and Public Policy, WWS 555A: U.S. Policy and Diplomacy in the Middle East, and CLA 546: Religion and Magic in Ancient Rome — were given a new Kindle DX containing their course readings for the semester. The University had announced last May it was partnering with Amazon.com, founded by Jeff Bezos ’86, to provide students and faculty members with the e-readers as part of a sustainability initiative to conserve paper.


“I hate to sound like a Luddite, but this technology is a poor excuse of an academic tool,” said Aaron Horvath ’10, a student in Civil Society and Public Policy. “It’s clunky, slow and a real pain to operate.”


Wilson School professor Stan Katz, who teaches Horvath’s class, said he is interested in whether he “can teach as effectively in using this as in using books and E-Reserve material and in whether students can use this effectively,” adding that “the only way to find out is to try it.”


“I have all of my books marked up,” Katz said. “Either I use my own annotations, or I take the time, an immense amount of time” to annotate with the Kindle.

Katz also said he has little incentive to move his annotations to the Kindle, explaining that he heard the University won’t use the Kindle next year and adding that he finds the device “hard to use.”

Katz also added that the absence of page numbers in the Kindle makes it more difficult for students to cite sources consistently.

“The Kindle doesn’t give you page numbers; it gives you location numbers. They have to do that because the material is reformatted,” Katz said. He noted that while the location numbers are “convenient for reading,” they are “meaningless for anyone working from analog books.”

See Also: ACLS Humanities E-Book (Subscription Database)

From the Site:

Humanities E-Book is a digital collection of 2,200 full-text titles offered by the ACLS [American Council of Learned Societies] in collaboration with nineteen learned societies, nearly 100 contributing publishers, and librarians at the University of Michigan’s Scholarly Publishing Office. The result is an online, fully searchable collection of high-quality books in the Humanities, recommended and reviewed by scholars and featuring unlimited multi-user access and free, downloadable MARC records. HEB is available 24/7 on- and off-campus through standard web browsers.

Some titles are available in XLM format while others can be printed on-demand.

Hat Tips: P.W. and P.B.


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