Space Ramblings

Is Kindle a Textbook Solution?

The internet seems to be threatening everyone these days and while textbook publishers don’t top the list, they are on the list. The obvious reason is of course the well known fact that textbook costs are ridiculously inflated in order to exploit students, a captive market. This has created a sizable used textbooks market, which textbook publishers have tried to dodge by constantly bringing out new editions of college textbooks that are basically mildly retooled versions of the previous edition. This has had a limited success, especially with the rise of the internet where students could sell and order textbooks online, killing much of the safety time the publishers thought they had.

Now Bittorrent is playing a role as students scan and upload textbooks, which can then be turned into word or acrobat files, for easy portability and annotation. Carrying around six 5 pound textbooks at 30 pounds total doesn’t compare to carrying around a flash drive on your keychain. Textbook publishers have tried to compete with e textbooks but they’re still widely overpriced.

Meanwhile Amazon is finally sorta admitting that the Kindle 1.0 is a dead end and really not doing all that well and so Amazon is now typing Kindle 1.5 or 2.0 as being the one that will really get it right. And they’re looking to expand the market, in this case by hitting the textbook market. It’s not a bad idea in theory, but since Kindle books come with DRM the question has to be asked whether resale of kindle textbooks will be allowed. So far the lead in publicity with its mention of lower prices to account for resale losses suggests it will not, which means all Kindle will offer is the same old overpriced textbooks in electronic format on Kindle. Big whoop.

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