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March 01, 2009


I finally broke down and bought a Kindle 2, primarily for travel. The book I am reading now is a science fiction book only available in hardcover at $29.95 or trade paperback at $12.55. The Kindle version was $6.39. But I agree it is unlikely I will earn back the $359 I paid for the Kindle. For me it is convenience: both in having less to carry when I travel and in being able to get a book seconds after deciding on it. And there is a certain convenience in not cluttering my house any further with books! But I am glad to have a house full of books and already miss the feel and smell of a book in my hands.

I think a killer app for the kindle would be textbooks. publishers could lower the price of books because with the built in drm, the used book market wouldn't be available. since the books could be cheaper, the price of the kindle could be recovered after a semester or two by the students. even if it took a bit longer, for me, the convenience of not carrying a huge intro to calc or physics textbook around would be worth a lot.

This may not work so well for art history kinds of courses, but i think it would probably be acceptable for sciences. of course, professors, may no longer be able to offer open book tests.

Seth: I have talked with publishers and from what I can tell, they are not going to reduce drastically the prices for electronic versions of the textbooks. Combine that with the fact that an ebook cannot be sold back to the bookstore to be reused, and the financial incentives for students are gone. However, I believe that some students would be willing to get the electronic versions just to avoid carrying the heavy, big textbooks with them.

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