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March 10, 2010 > Kindle-ing student interest for e-book readers

Kindle-ing student interest for e-book readers

By Alissa Gwynn

Ever since the debut of the Kindle in 2007 by Amazon, the e-book market has revolutionized the print world, offering readers thousands of books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs inclusively in one computer-like device. With prototypes of third generation e-readers unveiled at the international Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, people can expect further improvements on the original simple black-and-white text versions. With these great technological advances, it only seems logical to open the e-book market to a new audience: students.

The advantages of bringing e-books to college and high school students are obvious - in addition to being environmentally sound by lessening dependence on paper, e-books have the power to reduce the physical strain of hauling around textbooks from class to class.

As a student myself, I find that even though I live in a relatively affluent area, my school simply does not have enough resources to provide all students with both a class and home set of textbooks. As a result, textbooks, which range from good to poor condition (but hardly ever new), are constantly weighing students down. In fact, I recently heard one of my peers jest about her new "APUSH biceps" - or muscles from carrying her Advanced Placement United States History textbook to and from school. E-readers, which could essentially consolidate all of students' textbooks into one gadget, pose a solution to the heavy, outdated textbooks that students are responsible for bringing to class every day.

Various companies are already targeting students in their newest e-reader models. The EnTourage eDGe offers a variety of textbooks in their online store, while the device itself has a microphone and camera so students can record lectures and refer to them later on. Additionally, Skiff is working to develop an e-reader model with color e-pages rather than a LCD screen, so that constant use will not cause eyestrain.

However, due to the current economic situation and harsh education budget cuts, it is understandable that e-books are likely to be used as supplemental materials for a few students, if at all for the time being. Rick La Plante, Public Information Officer for the New Haven School District, says, "[E-readers] are not something we've discussed, but I think generally we're in favor of any technology to advance our students' literacy skills." Although he believes that in the long run e-readers would be less expensive, the initial transition would simply be too large of an obstacle for any school district to undertake yet.

Even so, it is probable that the younger generation will be quick to embrace e-readers in the future. Growing up in the technology age, university and some high school students are already accustomed to bringing netbooks and laptops to class. For lower costs and more convenience, why not embrace e-readers? Mission San Jose High School's ASB President Kylan Nieh says, "They're greener, healthier for students, and more convenient. If we have the technology, then we should take advantage of it."

As the internet, iPods, and laptops have become commonplace, e-readers will be the wave of the future. It is only a matter of time before e-readers revolutionize education as well.

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