Kindle Textbook Deployment Faces Stiff Challenges

The Kindle textbook deployment faces an uphill battle as the
National Federation of the Blind and American Council of the Blind filed a discrimination Law Suit against Arizona State University Amazon Kindle DX Pilot Program claiming that it discriminates against the blind.

What is the problem?

Transforming digital text to  audio and braile is relatively simple, but at present, the Amazon Kindle DX is not completely configued to do so in such a way  to accomodate blind readers.

Yes, the device currently translate digital book into Audio, but one can only activate the feature via an on-screen menu that’s not accessible to the blind.

“It is unfair to the blind to deploy such a huge project and the blind do not have access to it.” said one blind student.

“Software exists that can use audio or keyboard shortcuts to make menus available,” says Danielson of the federation for the blind, but Amazon has chosen not to incorporate that technology into the Kindle at this point.

By adopting the device as-is, Arizona State and the other universities are violating the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

“Given the highly-advanced technology involved, there is no good reason that Amazon’s Kindle DX device should be inaccessible to blind students,” Marc Maurer, the federation’s president, said in a prepared statement.

“Amazon could have used the same text-to-speech technology that reads e-books on the device aloud to make its menus accessible to the blind, but it chose not to do so.

Thus far Amazon is silent on the issue. Let us know your thoughts.

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What Kindle Textbooks Could Mean For Both The Amazon Kindle And The Student.

Cheaper Textbooks
You can expect Kindle textbooks to be cheaper than their printed counterparts, since it will eliminate the need for  printing, binding, and shipping.

Kindle-related  Sales could skyrocket
If a $80 textbook could be bought for $40, then buying 12 textbooks would cover the Kindle cost.  That’s about two semesters worth of textbooks.  The next six semesters (for a 4-year degree), would result in a 50% discount in textbooks cost  for students and perhaps a significant increase sales for Amazon…and that’s on the higher side.  Discounted prices could be much less.

Cheaper kindle?
A cheaper Kindle price must also be taken into serious consideration, if Amazon expect students to buy into the idea.

Consider the  “starving” student, some of whom work two or more jobs, to survive and attend school  full time. For these students, the current Kindle / Kindle DX prices could be the first high hurdle to overcome to get to the  ‘cheaper’ textbook.

Less load for Students
I remember dragging around those heavy backpacks back in college. It was so much work. With Kindle, that would disappear. This would no doubt be a welcome change for many students.

No more textbook re-sale for the ‘Starving Student.’
“Starving” students may not be able to-resell unwanted books to a book store or even amazon once they are through with the course.  The would eliminate that extra source of income to help make ends meet.

On the other hand, graduate students could stand to benefit since they tend to keep used books as references.

Perhaps a book-rental agreement of some kind would be the perfect solution, whereby  books could be downloaded  for a certain period of time for smaller fee than the cost of the book and automatically removed from the device at the end of the rental period.

My sixth sense tells me that this is highly unlikely, but then again, I may be wrong.

The dreaded ‘Fear Factor.’
Electronic failure! You have all your textbooks, notes, anotation, etc., on the Kindle and the night before the final exam, your Kindle refuses to  ‘wake up.’  Go forbid that this should happen, but it could. What you do then?

If you like this article, let us know your thoughts…and don’t forget to follow us on twitter for the latest updates.

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Note: Already there are a few textbooks available at the kindle store.

To find out what’s available, go to the Kindle Store and do a ‘search’ for your title of interest.

Amazon to Launch New version of Amazon Kindle and Move Kindle Into The Textbook Arena!

Amazon is working on unveiling a new version of amazon Kindle  with a larger screen and other features designed to appeal to textook publishers.

The new device will also feature a more fully functional Web browser as opposed to the “experimental” browser which exist on the current model.

Starting  this fall, students at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland will be given large-screen Kindles with chemistry, computer science and a freshman seminar  textbooks already installed.

The university will then compare the  experiences of students with that of those who use  traditional textbooks.

Five other universities: Pace, Princeton, Reed, Darden School at the University of Virginia, and Arizona State are also involved in the project.

Amazon is also working out a deal with several textbook publishers to make their materials available for the  “new” device.

stay tuned for updates…