Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Amazon in the news

Since the Kindle DX was introduced, Amazon has been all over the news. Here is a round-up of some of the stories:

What effect will the Kindle DX have on the education market?
There have been many articles speculating on the effect that the Kindle DX could have on the education market. An article on The Bookseller, features commentary by Evan Schnittman, vice-president of global business development at Oxford University Press, who believes that the Kindle DX preview was “a smart tactical maneuver” to help Amazon stake out its territory in the academic market before the “textbook e-reader wars” begin. A posting on the Brave New World blog comments on the article, pointing out that the device and e-books are only part of the solution. “Students require connectivity, reference, to be able to capture notes, bookmark, diaries, collate files, create documents, will probably not be restricted to text, or even greyscale. Therefore ask yourself as a student with limited disposable income, would you rather invest in a Kindle DX at $489 (£325) or more suitable devices that are not tied to content and a single business model and that can’t connect to all resources and can do more than download and store mere documents.”

Kindle DX’s chances of succeeding
A posting on the Kindle 2 Review blog features a listing of the positive and negative indicators contributing to the Kindle DX’s chances for success. The posting notes, “Amazon has indicated, and the success of the Kindle 2 makes it likelier, that they intend to have Kindles around for 10 or more years. The Kindle DX becomes the first iteration of their attempt to capture the college textbook market and expand the Kindle family. I feel the DX family of Kindles will be a huge success – perhaps with the current version at a slightly lower price point, perhaps with dx 2.”

Kindle DX pilots
In regards to the Kindle DX pilots, the universities are still working out the details but Case Western Reserve University and Princeton University have provided some information. At Case Western Reserve, Kindle DX devices will be distributed to about 50 students enrolled in first-year chemistry, computer science, and electrical engineering courses. The student reactions to using the Kindle DX for reading textbooks will be compared to a control group using traditional textbooks. The university will also launch a project to evaluate the impact of the device on the learning experience, determine if faculty delivered the information in new ways, and determine if students approach their reading and assignments differently. At Princeton, students and faculty in three courses will receive the Kindle DX devices. The Princeton pilot will differ from the other pilots because it will be part of a sustainability initiative that focuses on reducing the amount of electronic reserve course materials that are printed by students.

Amazon offers subscription model for blogs
This week Amazon made another surprising announcement and said that it will let bloggers offer their posts via subscriptions in the Kindle store. According to an article from E-Commerce Times, Amazon will set the price for the blogs and keep 70% of the revenue with the remaining 30% going back to the blog publisher. The article notes that the model is questionable given that users can simply access the blogs for free in the Kindle’s browser but if Amazon is able to persuade consumers to pay for online content and “budge the ‘free content’ paradigm even slightly, it could be a game changer.”

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