We were provided the opportunity to “test drive” four different ebook readers (the Amazon Kindle, the Sony Reader, the iRex Illiad, and ebookwise) ranging in price from $150 (ebookwise) to $700 (iRex Illiad). Brief presentations were made covering the features of each device (including pros and cons) followed by a panel discussion addressing the future/applicability of these devices within the realm of higher education.
The main issues discussed: having an alternative to the high cost of textbooks, publisher reluctance to offer ebook option (especially for textbooks), pricing (readers as well as ebooks), and digital rights management.
While technological advances are a given, some of the panelists posited the following:
- Improved usability (design and functionality) once Apple enters the fray? Continue tweaking the development of these readers to incorporate more of the “great” features from each one into a single device that has it all.
- Once embraced in business/corporate settings, these devices will spread/be accepted in higher education and other non-leisure applications.
- Portability/integration with other existing technologies. While they are somewhat compact, do people really want something else to else to carry around? Integrate with laptop, palm, blackberry applications.
It would appear that the potential is there. The hazard is in guessing what direction that potential will go and how quickly.
Posted by Tom Rink