karen_w_newton (karen_w_newton) wrote,

There's reading and then there's studying

When eReaders started getting popular, one thing lots of folks thought of was, "Oh, great! Now we can replace all those heavy, expensive textbooks with ebooks."

It seems like that's a case of "maybe not so much." When you read a novel, you start at the beginning and read all the way through. eReaders do that very well. Want set a bookmark where you can come back to that point to re-read it? Check. Want to search the text to find out what a character said at a given event? Check. Want to load a PDF into your eReader and annotate it in its native state? Hmm. Not with a Kindle 2, where you have to convert it, and not with a Kindle DX, where you can load but not annotate native PDFs. Kindle allows annotation of converted books but not native PDFs. Some Sony models support that feature, but not the new Nook. I believe the QUE will, but since it's not due until January, I can't say for sure.

A recent post on the University of Washington's experiment with Kindle DX. None of the grad students quoted was wild about the Kindle. They had some positive comments, but they all wanted something that wasn't there yet— annotating with a stylus, organizing documents into folders, annotating PDFs. One wanted something that was there (highlighting) but admitted he hadn't bothered to find out how to do it.

On a related note, I listened to a podcast of the University of Maryland's "Great ebook Throwdown". Three academic types held a roundtable discussion where they brought their eReaders (including Kindle 1, Kindle 2, and an iPhone with a Kindle app), passed them around, and talked about how they worked in an academic setting. One device was a prototype; as it turns out, UMd is cooperating on developing a dual screen academic eReader which, among other things has much faster page turns, better navigation, and the ability to show two different documents on the two screens (which can be separated if needed).

The roundtable participants were all on board with the idea of digital reading but felt that academic reading had specific needs that weren't being met. And while the focus was on academic reading, one attendee noted the professor had TWILIGHT on his Kindle. There was also discussion of thr fact that eReaders are still developing and will change over time as technology improves. One participant noted that eReaders may affect laptop and netbook development.

The best summation was the professor who pointed out there was no "best one" when it comes to eReaders; different people like different things. As an example, while he usually preferred reading on the Kindle itself, when he found himself camping out and reading outdoors at night, the book light needed for a Kindle attracted bugs where the iPhone LCD did not.

It will be interesting to see how the eReader market grows to develop specific or applications devices for specific markets.

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Tags: e-books, ebooks, ereaders

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