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Devices To Take Textbooks Beyond Text

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the swipe-credit-card-to-continue-reading dept.

Displays 115

An anonymous reader writes with a New York Times piece about the tumultuous transition to electronic devices, instead of printed materials, for text. "Newspapers and novels are moving briskly from paper to pixels, but textbooks have yet to find the perfect electronic home. They are readable on laptops and smartphones, but the displays can be eye-taxing. Even dedicated e-readers with their crisp printlike displays can’t handle textbook staples like color illustrations or the videos and Web-linked supplements publishers increasingly supply. Now there is a new approach that may adapt well to textbook pages: two-screen e-book readers with a traditional e-paper display on one screen and a liquid-crystal display on the other to render graphics like science animations in color."

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FP (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#30345650)

First Post?

Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more for (5, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | about 5 years ago | (#30345682)

Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more for about the same cost?

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (2, Funny)

alen (225700) | about 5 years ago | (#30345746)

because the next cool and hip thing is a dumbed down, overpriced but cool looking tablet that limit your ability to do whatever you want on a computer.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (3, Interesting)

ShooterNeo (555040) | about 5 years ago | (#30345990)

Yes, but the idea of a tablet is that it should be much lighter and smaller than a full computer. You'd be able to cart it around like a clipboard and use it in all sorts of industries. Ideally, the tablet would be about the size and weight of the screen on your laptop. It would be running a very low power usage CPU, and would have a power efficient display. Due to the slow CPU, it wouldn't be useful for a lot of things you can do with a laptop, but would be designed for working with lots of 2d documents.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about 5 years ago | (#30346512)

Combine that with Pixel Qi [youtube.com] multi-touch displays and you've got a rock'in platform. This display does color video with the backlight on, but with it off it does E-Ink-like low-power black and white as good as any e-book reader. Power it with an Nvidia Tegra processor [nvidia.com] , and run Ubuntu Netbook Remix, and you've got one freaking awesome Internet tablet, with e-book reader being the killer app. Add a dynamically warping virtual multi-touch keyboard [billrocks.org] , and you've got a killer device. I think I'll need one of these babies for every member of my family.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#30346782)

Umm, my Eee PC is clocked at 900mhz and is pretty tiny. I can assure you that I can do pretty much all the things that one would normally like to do with it. Including watching movies, granted I have to rip them to a SD card because the unit doesn't fit a CDROM, but the playback is quite good. It can definitely handle Ebooks, spreadsheets and word processing with very, very little trouble and cost me something like a hundred dollars less than the Kindle.

I must be missing something since that seems to be everything that most students would need out of a computer.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | about 5 years ago | (#30347154)

It has a tiny screen though. A tablet would be one huge screen and as thin and light as possible. Think giant iphone.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (2, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | about 5 years ago | (#30345778)

Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more for about the same cost?

Because PCs/netbooks don't have e-ink screens.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (3, Insightful)

masshuu (1260516) | about 5 years ago | (#30345954)

make removable displays in netbooks then. Push in a couple thing and it pops out. You could then stick a new display(say old one was damaged for some reason, or new one has higher res and higher dpi), or pop in a high contrast, black and white e-ink screen

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (2, Informative)

mark-t (151149) | about 5 years ago | (#30345970)

An e-ink reader has less to do with being more compact than a netbook and more to do with being high contrast, and not requiring any power to sustain a static image, which is ideal for something like reading.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1)

Mprx (82435) | about 5 years ago | (#30346200)

E-ink displays have very bad contrast ratio. Typically about 10:1, compared to 1000:1 or more for an LCD. The only visual advantage of e-ink is higher DPI, which is a marketing based rather than technical benefit because there's no reason LCDs can't have just as high DPI (see the OLPC XO1's display, which is also reflective so it's usable in sunlight).

E-ink is a dead-end technology. Bistable LCDs will exceed it in ever aspect. Ferro Liquid Display technology looks promising.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | about 5 years ago | (#30347772)

not requiring any power to sustain a static image

Bistable LCDs will exceed it in ever aspect

You can argue that LCDs will be more functional than e-ink displays, but there is no way that you can argue that there will be no niche that a no-power static display could fill better than an LCD.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1)

Mprx (82435) | about 5 years ago | (#30348206)

A bistable LCD is exactly that, but able to display motion too.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 5 years ago | (#30349864)

The thing with e-ink displays though, is that _perceived_ contrast improves as ambient illumination gets increases, which is exactly the opposite with any display that emits its own light. When reading anything else, such as paper, contrast also improves as ambient illumination increases, so electronic displays that exhibit this characteristic feel easier on the eyes and are usually less tiring to look at for prolonged periods, as long as sufficient light exists to comfortably read them in the first place. Of course, there's nothing magical about e-ink in particular in this regard, any display that does not have to emit any light to be perfectly legible under respectable ambient lighting conditions would exhibit this effect. However, the number of technologies that accomplish this are quite small... e-ink is simply the most prominent one at the current time.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (2, Informative)

mark-t (151149) | about 5 years ago | (#30345824)

Try reading a pc or netbook screen in direct sunlight. Able to do more doesn't mean diddly when you want contrast, which is what is really required for general reading.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (5, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | about 5 years ago | (#30346284)

Who are these people who read textbooks in direct sunlight?

And if you're such an advocate of sunlight, what are you doing posting on Slashdot?

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#30349158)

many lcd screens are so bad that you cannot even read them in the shadows inside a car. I've worked extensively with panasonic toughbooks and it's even the case with them and they're one of the better ones. You don't need to be in direct sunlight at all. I often end up having to crouch over the things to block the light and even then still have to cup my hand over part of the screen to shade the part I'm looking at.

I think I've read that these e-ink displays are a lot better though...

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#30346816)

Try reading E-ink in the dark. I don't think you can do that conveniently. Technology always has its draw backs I find it less likely that somebody's going to be studying outside in bright sun, than indoors where there's fewer distractions. Plus, there's any number of sun screens out there, they've been making them for years for graphics professionals.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 5 years ago | (#30347186)

Well, I don't normally read *books* in the dark either, so I don't give up anything by not being able to read an epaper display in the dark either. I can always use a lamp if I need to read something in a place where it's dark. Still, no display that emits light can produce decent contrast in sufficient ambient light.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (3, Informative)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about 5 years ago | (#30345842)

Cause an E-Reader uses E-Ink, which only uses electricity when the text changes. It doesn't take any power to show static text, just change it. (unless, of course, you use the low power backlight)

Nobody wants to charge their textbook a couple of times a day.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (2, Funny)

Kratisto (1080113) | about 5 years ago | (#30345938)

It's okay, we can have students carry around multiple car batteries. It will end up weighing about the same, anyway.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#30346484)

Agreed. But they will be willing to charge their textbook reader once per day (at night) especially if the reader (+ content): 1) costs less then the physical textbooks, 2) has school intranet access + internet access), 3) does a better job of explaining the subject material than the physical textbook and 4) organizes your notes into a study guide on the fly.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1, Flamebait)

reub2000 (705806) | about 5 years ago | (#30345946)

Why even get that when I can take a book out of the library for a lot less?

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (2, Informative)

rcolbert (1631881) | about 5 years ago | (#30346364)

Why even get that when I can take a book out of the library for a lot less?

Because students tend to not check textbooks out of libraries. They buy them for the semester at considerable expense, and then have to lug them around all day. Or did you miss the use-case that this article is about?

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1)

reub2000 (705806) | about 5 years ago | (#30347892)

First of all, textbooks in an electronic format still cost a considerable amount. And any savings quickly evaporates once you factor in the cost of an e-reader. Yes most students do have laptops, however those have problems that have been explained elsewhere in this thread.

Also, who lugs their books to class? I certainly don't. Most of the time I just leave them at home.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1)

rcolbert (1631881) | about 5 years ago | (#30348412)

I think we're losing sight of the bigger picture here. What we're talking about is the possibility to make a significant change in the delivery of classroom text, and unbelievably the arguments against the *potential* for doing so are sounding much like the argument in favor of postal mail versus email. What about the tons of paper saved every year? The reduced barrier to publishing material? The ability to update inaccurate information mid-semester? I'm just a little speechless that people are readily naysayers about the matter, and/or are having a technology discussion instead of a discussion of the use case.

How exactly does the cost evaporate when you factor in the cost of an e-reader? Doesn't it seem that should this idea come to fruition that market forces will make this a no-brainer? It seems to me that the cost of an e-reader is on par with about a single semester's worth of textbooks. Subtract the cost of printing and distribution from the price of each e-book and you'll have no problem finding a way to make more money for the publisher and yet cost less money overall for the student assuming an e-reader can survive an average of four semesters or so.

I think the main theme is that laptops, netbooks, or tablets alone aren't perfectly suited for e-books and the needs of the student. Ideally, we'll have a solution someday that combines everything the student needs into one device. This article shows signs that the industry is finally acknowledging the need for a specialty product.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1)

edumacator (910819) | about 5 years ago | (#30346434)

As soon as they have books that I can check out of the library, where I can read it easily AND watch a video relevant to the content, I'm right there with you.

I know...I know...I could have my laptop/netbook AND the book beside me, but I'm lazy like that.

Oh, and also, the librarian at my university always got mad when I took notes in the margins of her books. She also made me pay for the damn book if I kept it forever.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | about 5 years ago | (#30347814)

Oh, and also, the librarian at my university always got mad when I took notes in the margins of her books.

What? No way!

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1)

kellymar (1682030) | about 5 years ago | (#30346018)

Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more for about the same cost?

I've often thought the same thing myself, especially since downloading Kindle for PC.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1)

lamapper (1343009) | about 5 years ago | (#30347046)

Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more for about the same cost?

Not sure what the same cost refers to. But we have sub $300 netbooks that can read many data formats, especially open data formats. I have no patience and refuse to purchase content in a proprietary format...waste of money.

We also have the new Nokia N900, although it is pricer than most would want to spend, but it gives you a Linux computer in the palm of your hand. So as long as there is an application that can read the content in Linux, you can get it to work on the Nokia Nxxx.

For those looking to save money, I read a post the other day of a person who bought a Nokia N810 for less than $150. The Nokia N800 is also a Linux computer.

Why buy any other device...a Kindle, why...a hand held device, so called smart phone or whatever that runs a proprietary operating systm...why.

Just get a Linux netbook or hand held and only purchase content that can be read / used on them...game over.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | about 5 years ago | (#30348650)

Plenty of reasons:

#1 e-Ink saves power over the Netbook LCD screen.
#2 eBook reader is easier to use and has twin screens to simulate a book which usually has two pages open at once. Netbooks only have one LCD screen.
#3 Not everyone wants to learn how to use a Netbook computer with Windows, Linux, etc in order to read books. Last thing someone wants is a Windows BSOD while reading an eBook, or have the screen saver come up due to inactivity.
#4 Eventually when mass produced the eBook readers will come down in price as technology advances and becomes cheaper due to spreading out the cost from thousands to millions of unit sales.
#5 eBook sellers want the DRM features to control how their book is accessed and used.
#6 The eBook reader is more compatible with the library system of checking out books. I expect libraries to carry eBooks and either one checks out an eBook via the library's web site or visits the library and checks out the eBook from their wireless network.
#7 The eBook reader is platform agnostic and should work with any operating system it hooks up to and accesses to convert eBooks over to it.
#8 Just like the iPod made music and videos sales over the Internet popular and profitable, so too will the eBook reader make eBooks over the Internet popular and profitable. The company that can do with eBooks what Apple did with music and video media should be the winner in this category. No iPods and iPhones are not as suitable as eBook readers with e-Ink, but yes Apple should strive to develop their own e-Ink based eBook reader.

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#30348858)

Yeah. That has about as much a chance of happening as Obama supporting school vouchers. Didn't you get the memo? School is about warehousing kids, not educating them. That would be waaay too dangerous...

Re:Why not have a pc / netbook that can do more fo (1)

timothy (36799) | about 5 years ago | (#30348984)

Preface: I don't have any such device (yet), but I'm becoming slightly tempted.

I was quite *uninterested* in these things, for three basic reasons:

1) the one you name; it's a computer, underneath, but can't be used for most of the things I use a computer for (can't reply to comments on Slashdot, for instance ;))

2) Turned off by all devices with proprietary or expensive batteries (this does include laptops, but since I've already committed to a small stable of laptops despite this, I can overlook it as needed for laptops, and gripe about it as appropriate). If the Kindle took AA batteries, I'd probably already have one.

3) Don't like being tied to a single source for downloads (BN.com, or Amazon, or whatever's next).

There are some responses for each of these, though:

1) Ubuntu on the Kindle -- even if it's sorta silly, it proves the thing isn't 100 locked into being only the tablet that Amazon wants it to be http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/09/09/03/2010208/Ubuntu-904-On-Kindle-2?from=rss [slashdot.org]

2) The batteries last a long time, what with the e-Ink display and all. Well, grudgingly, I accept that battery life isn't bad under most circumstances.

3) Yes, there are quite a few books that are available for free or quite cheap, and ways to get other docs on there, too. Good. If I do get such a thing, I am unlikely to buy all that many books for it, at least at full price. I'd rather have a paper copy of most books.

I recently spent most of a day in a bookstore (Barnes & Noble, as it happens, and boy were they pushing the Nook), and watching people w/ their Kindles and Nooks, as well as conventional books, and becoming slightly warmer to the idea. I read a book that day (sipping a drink), and realized that an e-reader would be handier for just that sort of situation, because I don't need to hold it open with my thumb.

A laptop, though, would be a pretty awkward way to read, for shape / weight / power-draw needs. My opinion, anyhow.

timothy

Change one word and download? (3, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 5 years ago | (#30345696)

There will be a need to offer complete downloads when a word changes, so that professors may be reimbursed for a new book each term. Either that or the books will arrive as DRM locked on disposable tablets. Or will erase themselves after the term is over. Can't have people re-using books, now...

Re:Change one word and download? (2, Informative)

BKX (5066) | about 5 years ago | (#30345770)

This semester's accounting book was like that already for me. The book itself came unbound (just a pile of sheets with holes for a three-ring binder), and had a two-semester subscription to the online version of the textbook. The problem is that the subscription by itself was only $20 less than the book and you had to have it to do the homework. After the next semester, I'll be stuck with a worthless pile of paper (not even as good as a worthless textbook.)

Re:Change one word and download? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#30345994)

Crap on it and put it outside the door of the professor with a note!

I double dare ya.

I can send you my crap if you're worried about DNA identification.

"Even dedicated e-readers ... (1)

beatsme (1472991) | about 5 years ago | (#30345706)

... with their crisp printlike displays can’t handle textbook staples"

I for one welcome crisp printlike displays that can handle textbook staples.
Resolving this "bug" would seem to be a task of utmost urgency.

I highly doubt this will take off. (2, Insightful)

illumastorm (172101) | about 5 years ago | (#30345730)

The e-reader will probably cost in the $500 range to cover cost. Each "book" will still cost $200 and will have to be bought again the next semester. Bookstores themselves most likely will not carry these unless they get a percentage of each reader and "book" sold because they will lose out on the used book sales.

Re:I highly doubt this will take off. (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#30346832)

Not necessarily, the reader might be expensive, but I know that open source text books are starting to catch on. Proffessors are starting to get tired of having to make students shell out hundreds for books that are really only worth $50 tops.

garbage (3, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 5 years ago | (#30345794)

Even dedicated e-readers with their crisp printlike displays can't handle textbook staples like color illustrations or the videos and Web-linked supplements publishers increasingly supply.

Last time I looked, dead trees don't handle videos and Web-linked[sic] supplements either.

Re:garbage (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#30349116)

Here, let me translate that for you:
Even dedicated e-readers with their crisp printlike displays can't handle (textbook staples like color illustrations) or (the videos and Web-linked supplements publishers increasingly supply).
Reading comprehension fail?

It's getting better, I suppose (2, Interesting)

RudeIota (1131331) | about 5 years ago | (#30345822)

I think this is one of those ideas that *sound* better than it actually is. In short, adding graphics and video to electronic book readers are the first couple of steps into losing what a 'book reader' should be.

Many argue that eReaders "just aren't the same" as a real, 3 dimensional book. I agree... both literally and figuratively, I suppose. However, educational text books are perfect for eReaders. They are often enormous, have to be frequently carried around in conjunction with others book and I'm pretty sure most people don't care about how a text book 'feels'. So moving eReaders to book = good idea.

However, with an LCD screen, this changes things a bit. First, I feel this is losing the focus of what an 'eReader' is. It hasn't lost it yet -- but it is getting there. It blurs the line between an eReader and a Tablet... which could be a little blurry with a laptop already.

Another drawback over eReaders as we know them is we're going to see a pretty intensive increase in power usage. This is now going to be a device that needs to be charged hourly, depending on the battery size and how much multimedia they plan on packing into this thing. Books don't have videos and while it is neat, again, it is losing focus of being an electronic book and falling into the realm of tablet.

Take it a couple of more steps with web browsing, a keyboard etc... It's not longer an eReader. Personally, I'd rather have a 'dual screen' laptop that I could types notes on and read at the same time, since I'm going to spend a lot of my time looking in the general direction of an LCD already.

Problems with textbooks (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 5 years ago | (#30345860)

The problem with textbooks are twofold, either A) You have to buy the textbooks themselves, and they are worthless after you stop taking that class (I mean, does anyone re-read old textbooks?) or B) Are given to you buy your education institution. Used electronic junk is usually pretty worthless and sometimes nasty (anyone want to get a pre-used keyboard?) and what is the use of a dedicated e-reader that will be used only for a semester?

Re:Problems with textbooks (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 5 years ago | (#30346046)

Yes, I do reread old textbooks, or utilize them for reference quite a bit. The textbooks I don't intend to keep I sell back for about half of what I paid to the bookstore at the end of the semester so that they can be resold the following semester as a used book, as long as it is still in good condition, thus lowering the cost for future students.

Re:Problems with textbooks (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | about 5 years ago | (#30346304)

You probably care about the subjects you're taking, unlike 90% of students who are just there to jump through the necessary hoops to get the necessary qualifications so they can be mediocre workers.

Re:Problems with textbooks (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | about 5 years ago | (#30346994)

unlike 90% of students who are just there to jump through the necessary hoops to get the necessary qualifications so they can be mediocre workers.

The hoops mean more than the specifics of the degree itself. That's why employers usually ask for a degree or equivalent experience. People with degrees in liberal arts and foreign languages frequently become programmers.

Others have to work and/or raise kids while going to school. What did you study? Can you tell us with a straight face that you fully appreciated every class unrelated to your major that you had to take to satisfy your G.E. requirements? Alternately, if you're an engineer, would you be able to open up a differential equations text and be able to solve all of the problems without help, even though you passed the class some-odd years ago? What do you remember from your art history class? I understand why you made that blanket assumption, but some of us choose to expend most of our energy on what matters, whether it be jobs or personal lives. Not all of us are freshman kids who need to be forced to take irrelevant classes to become "cultured".

Re:Problems with textbooks (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 5 years ago | (#30347038)

I went to a university that only forced me to do 2 classes that I didn't choose myself: calculus, and technical writing. After completing those two classes I understood why they forced me to do them.

Re:Problems with textbooks (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | about 5 years ago | (#30348756)

Irrelevant, everything you learn in college is stored in your subconscious mind even if you cannot recall it. Eventually it will come back to you and the Engineer will remember how to do differential equations after reading a book on it to refresh his/her memory, and every other class as well.

Just that while some subjects such as math and English stay the same mostly, science, computer science, programming languages, CPUs, technology, and other things will continue to change and evolve and progress so that the college graduate will have to continue learning them to stay effective at a job.

For example, I learned Turbo Pascal, but my knowledge of Visual BASIC that I learned on the side and not in college got me my jobs. Visual BASIC replaced Turbo Pascal after I graduated, and then they moved on to Java and C++ and in some cases C#. You have to keep on learning and subscribe to magazines (or RSS feeds of magazines and other sources of information on your subjects) to stay updated to changes.

Change management, research, innovation, those are important skills to learn because you will be called to use them every day to adapt to the many changes and evolution of your skills and knowledge.

Yes I agree having a family can be a drain on your career, I was always asked to stay extra hours and work for no extra pay, but I had to leave to pick up my son from the babysitter because she would only work to 5pm or 6pm and no later. My wife worked late as a nurse at a later shift and couldn't do it. Had I worked the extra hours, it would have lead to promotions and pay raises, but I chose family over career. When I got sick, from the stress caused from management and coworkers from not working extra hours with them, the stress of technology changing, the stress of debugging everyone's code as they didn't keep up the quality that I did (I did quality many others did quantity and thus wrote sloppy code I had to fix later), and me not knowing how to handle anger management or stress management made me physically and mentally ill. Part of it is my fault for choosing family and health over career, and not knowing how to handle the stress of extra work and other things which made me sicker and sicker until I went on disability. While I was discriminated against at work for being sick, when I was sick I couldn't do as well a job as when I was well, so eventually I couldn't handle any job at all and had to quit and go on disability and try to heal up. That was 2002, and I am still trying to heal up as my illnesses go deep. But had I not been married and not had any offspring, I'd might still be working today putting in the extra hours needed to keep my job and not go sick. Then again I might have worked myself sick and gone on disability anyway. But it should strive the importance of learning anger management and stress management for a career as well as learning to adapt to change and other things.

Re:Problems with textbooks (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 5 years ago | (#30346346)

Perhaps your major is different than mine, but in computer science unless you get a really good textbook (yeah, good luck with that) most everything is either A) irrelevant for what you do or B) is obsolete by the time you graduate. About the only textbooks I would even think of keeping is literature books, but most of it is public domain anyways and the stories long lost their charm after many essays...

Re:Problems with textbooks (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | about 5 years ago | (#30350038)

As a grad student in aerospace engineering (dynamics and controls), I actually have a number of textbooks that I use regularly after the class is done. Particularly my orbital mechanics, optimal control theory, estimation, and dynamics books have proven to be extremely useful outside of the classes they were originally purchased for, in later classes, research and "real-world" work.

I suppose grad school is different -- its more focused and you know enough from undergrad to start learning more directly applicable theory. I also suppose mechanically-oriented engineering isn't obsoleted so quickly -- the fundamentals stay the same over time, while the methods of application change drastically.

Nonetheless, while anecdotes make poor evidence, I'd say that the applicability of textbooks is highly dependent on the field and program.

Re:Problems with textbooks (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 5 years ago | (#30350060)

I graduated from a computer science program in 2003, and virtually all of my comp sci texts remain useful reference material today.

Re:Problems with textbooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#30346640)

To lower costs for future students you should just sell to them directly (or through a service like Half or Amazon). Charge them a smidgen more than the bookstore would pay you, but a lot less than what the bookstore would charge. Otherwise you're just letting the bookstore make 200-300% profit (over the lifespan of the book) by reselling it repeatedly.

Re:Problems with textbooks (1)

wayland (165119) | about 5 years ago | (#30346432)

Great Books theory. In the Great Books theory of education, there are certain great books that continue to have relevance. An example from the field of Literature would be Shakespeare. Of my University textbooks, the only one I've looked at much is the Dragon Book by Aho, Sethi, and Ullman; the one about writing compilers. There was also a Networking book that I've opened occasionally. Imagine of you had the GoF book on Design Patterns as a textbook! But no, we get books like "Java for Dummies" (I exaggerate), at least in some classes.

Of course, computing is a rapidly-moving field, so it may be another 20-50 years before it settles down enough that we know what the really great books are. HTH

Re:Problems with textbooks (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 5 years ago | (#30347178)

But computer programming is a practical, "doing" field, and things change. For example, 10 years ago if you were trying to optimize your code for general desktop use for use on multiple CPU or multi-core CPUs you would be laughed at. Today though, its important because nearly all CPUs are multi-core CPUs. The human mind, and human nature doesn't change much, that is why books written long ago still are relevant such as Shakespeare, the bible, Norse/Greek/Roman/Egyptian mythology, etc.

I'll take accurate first, please (3, Interesting)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 5 years ago | (#30345862)

Given the glaring errors I've seen in just about every school related text book I've ever owned, I'd prefer them work on accuracy before electronic.

Re:I'll take accurate first, please (1)

RyoShin (610051) | about 5 years ago | (#30346050)

The flip side is that, with electronic versions, patches can be applied to books as mistakes are found, saving a lot of money on versions and waste in textbooks.

Well, that is, if the textbook industry wasn't super greedy and would want to charge as much for a patch as for the original textbook.

Re:I'll take accurate first, please (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | about 5 years ago | (#30346622)

Well, that is, if the textbook industry wasn't super greedy and would want to charge as much for a patch as for the original textbook.

They already do this, only they call the patches "editions."

Could add third plasma screen, and perhaps printer (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 5 years ago | (#30345876)

I like the concept of having both e-Ink and LCD screens, each optimized for a different purpose. I think they could improve it further by adding a third screen that's plasma, in case you need some high-speed animation. And for ultimate readability, they could add a mini printer (perhaps two, one thermal, the other inkjet... oh and of course a third for laser, argh, forgot dye sublim as well). They could also have multiple input devices, to optimize for various users and needs. You could have touch pad, touch screen, mouse, and perhaps a camera tracking device. I mean why should we have a book that's presented in a coherent way, when we can have it 5% better by having lots of different media to switch between?

XO (4, Interesting)

gmuslera (3436) | about 5 years ago | (#30345882)

Here in Uruguay all school childrens have an XO, that have a decent screen for reading text, even under sunlight. If well don't have a dual screen like those, cost less than half of the ones in the article, and can do far more than just reading books. And doing more than just displaying books means that education don't need to be something as passive as reading/memorizing a textbook, and a lot of its activities are oriented to getting student to participate. And we are talking about a device that is around since several years by now.

Re:XO ... and Pixel Qi (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 5 years ago | (#30349210)

XO uses predecessor of commercial Pixel Qi screens that are launching soon(tm).

I wouldn't be surprised if we find them in e-book readers announced some time ago by few big motherboard/laptop manufacturers. Or in Apple tablet.

Students already don't use the texts we have (4, Interesting)

line-bundle (235965) | about 5 years ago | (#30345888)

In my experience as a professor I found that there are two types of students. Those who get the material without much supporting information, and those who will never get it no matter how many different techniques you use. Bloating textbooks has just made it harder for those interested in the subject to wade through the crap.

Adding more to already bloated textbooks won't help. I should start a movement for smaller books.

Re:Students already don't use the texts we have (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#30346142)

In my experience as a professor I found that there are two types of students. Those who get the material without much supporting information, and those who will never get it no matter how many different techniques you use. Bloating textbooks has just made it harder for those interested in the subject to wade through the crap.

Adding more to already bloated textbooks won't help. I should start a movement for smaller books.

You can; by not requiring a textbook.

Re:Students already don't use the texts we have (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#30346164)

Bloating textbooks has just made it harder for those interested in the subject to wade through the crap.

I agree, after nearly 8 years in university and closing in on two degrees there are 2 text books I actually still use. They are black and white without any frills but superb reference materials and considered authoritative in their fields.

CDN$1000+ a semester on texts was the last straw (6-7 courses a semester), my classmates and I simply started to share the texts we knew were garbage... every single one of them had fancy figures with lots of colours and graphs.

Re:Students already don't use the texts we have (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#30346166)

"there are two types of students. Those who get the material without much supporting information, and those who will never get it no matter how many different techniques you use."

Almost sounds as if you have no reason to put effort into teaching since the good ones will learn it on their own and the rest are lost anyway ... maybe the reason you have not come across students who get the material with supporting information is because you're not very good at explaining the supporting information?

Re:Students already don't use the texts we have (2, Interesting)

webdog314 (960286) | about 5 years ago | (#30346298)

My daughter recently brought home a Jr. High level biology textbook that was bigger than the ones I had in college as a microbiology major. It had a hard cover with an 8 in. hologram and foil-stamped embossing. Having worked in a high school library, I can understand the hard cover. Kids are hard on textbooks. However, when I was in school our teachers actually told us to take care of the damn things and that we would be held responsible for excessive damages. They gave us covers and encouraged us to use them. Still, I weep that the school was suckered into paying for all those fancy printing extras, especially given that the content hasn't changed all that much since I was learning it, at least at that level. Grade school textbooks are nothing more than the publishing industry's last gasp chance to suck every penny out of a system they have been raping with impunity for decades. Forget ebooks, I want to see more of the free government funded and approved public domain textbooks that you can get online. You need another copy of your science textbook, here, I'll burn you a CD. No laptop or ereader? No problem, I'll just print one out for you for the cost of the paper. Harcourt Brace et al can kiss my fanny!

Re:Students already don't use the texts we have (1)

martas (1439879) | about 5 years ago | (#30346616)

I agree completely. Having been educated in a post-soviet country until I came to the US for college, I remember fondly the days when I had textbooks that gave me pure, concentrated fact. The textbooks I have to use now, apart from being bloated, also seem to have been written with the intent of teaching a certain model of interpreting and reasoning about the facts. While it's understandable why authors feel the need to do this, I think a much better approach is to allow the students to develop this intuition themselves through a series of increasingly complex problems.

I say this especially because I've noticed that while solving problems in many different subjects, I find myself spending a large amount of time looking through hundreds of pages of mostly useless text just to find one key piece of theory that I need to solve the problem. This seems very wasteful to me...

Re:Students already don't use the texts we have (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 5 years ago | (#30348486)

The problem with interpretation vs pure fact is related to the lack of elitism in America and Britain. If you intend to pass every student, then you have to predigest everything for them so that even the dumbest can succeed. You were lucky to be exposed to a more elitist model early.

Re:Students already don't use the texts we have (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#30347908)

This is the most careless comment I've read in a while! *Of course* students learn differently. Sure, some may be able to read a math laden text and grasp the material painlessly, but others may need visual aids or actually *do* it using equipment (if the subject allows this). IMHO, the best professors I've had back in college were the ones who understood this, and worked with the students and tailored to their needs. The worst professors I've had were the ones who assumed their method of teaching would suffice and students not able to keep up were not his/her problem.

Now, if you had said, "there are two types of students, those who care and those who do not", I would be inclined to agree 100%. While I have noticed a good deal of students going through the universities these days are more interested in the buck, I find the problem is not necessarily the students. Professors should be motivating the students to learn the subject matter rather than opening the class with "please turn to page 23 on your text". Ever see the opening scene to "A Beautiful Mind"? We need more of that...

Re:Students already don't use the texts we have (1)

bcrowell (177657) | about 5 years ago | (#30348048)

Bloating textbooks has just made it harder for those interested in the subject to wade through the crap. Adding more to already bloated textbooks won't help. I should start a movement for smaller books.

I'm also a college professor, and I agree about textbook bloat. The problem is that the college textbook market is a very strange kind of market -- really, it should be referred to as a "market," with scare quotes. The people who pick the textbook are different from the people who buy the textbook, so you get all kinds of perverse incentives. Publishers know that they will never lose an adoption because a book had too much material, but they may very well lose one because it didn't cover a topic that a particular professor wants.

The solution, in my opinion, is to ditch the traditional for-profit model of textbook publishing. See my sig for a catalog containing hundreds of free textbooks.

Re:Students already don't use the texts we have (1)

Rapid Supreme 17 (916052) | about 5 years ago | (#30348380)

As someone who has recently completed an undergraduate degree in engineering, I completely agree with your thoughts. I began my M.Sc. this year, which means I'm mired in lit review for my thesis project. I've been working my way through a few older textbooks, and am floored by the difference in quality in terms of presentation of material. These texts present matarial in a clear, concise, and robust manner. My undergraduate textbook in electromagnetics is embarrassingly hand-wavy in comparison to its equivalent written in the early 60's. All the examples and short-sighted analogies in the world won't help if they come at the expense of understanding fundamentals, but I guess I think differently than the publishers.

Well (3, Interesting)

ShooterNeo (555040) | about 5 years ago | (#30345904)

Note : the e-paper screen on this device is 9.7" diagonal, which is the same size as the display on the kindle DX. Most likely it's the same part number.

This device is approaching the functionality of a truly useful electronic book. That's enough screen area to make an electronic textbook practical and close to being equivalent to the paper version. The true value of course is that you should be able to fit dozens or hundreds of books onto the machine. Plus : searchability, updates, electronic highlighting, etc.

Downside : publishers will try to destroy the used book market. They'll use DRM and various access controls to try to force every user to buy a separate copy.

Upside : open textbooks directly published by professors, available free or for under $15, will be more practical.

Obviously, the problem this device has is that at $490 it's far too expensive ($200-$300 would probably be a more practical price point). Android is still basically a beta product, and we don't know if the guts of this device are up to snuff. It needs to have a long battery life, a CPU that is beefy enough to not add long delays yet use very little power, and things like an SD card reader.

Well Steamed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#30347662)

"Downside : publishers will try to destroy the used book market. They'll use DRM and various access controls to try to force every user to buy a separate copy."

Much like the way Steam, D2D, and Impulse have destroyed the used game market.

Re:Well (1)

macshit (157376) | about 5 years ago | (#30347846)

Obviously, the problem this device has is that at $490 it's far too expensive ($200-$300 would probably be a more practical price point). Android is still basically a beta product, and we don't know if the guts of this device are up to snuff. It needs to have a long battery life, a CPU that is beefy enough to not add long delays yet use very little power, and things like an SD card reader.

Another huge problem is that the damn thing is twice as bulky and heavy as it could be, to support functionality that's mainly useful for fluffy demos, but not so much for actual reading or learning.

To put it another way: it comes with a giant permanently attached sales brochure that doubles the weight of the product.

Another sign that marketing is in charge of development I suppose...

More Advancement Needed (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 years ago | (#30345920)

I think it is obvious that what we really need is good color, hi-res e-paper. But I also understand how difficult that might be to do right now.

In the meantime, I will stick to reasonably-priced, general-purpose machines, rather than expensive single-purpose devices.

In general I tend to agree with the professor, however some subjects like higher math, physics, etc. simply cannot get by without some good graphs and diagrams.

Battery life? (3, Insightful)

pancakegeels (673199) | about 5 years ago | (#30345940)

I would like a *cheap* usb ebook screen so I can reduce the eye-strain when reading text at work/home etc. Why doesn't that exist?

Re:Battery life? (1)

martas (1439879) | about 5 years ago | (#30346662)

you mean e-ink? if so, then my guess would be that such a thing doesn't exist yet mostly because the technology is still pretty new, and available through only a few (young) manufacturers, who don't have the necessary weight behind them to release a wide variety of products.

Ain't it odd ... (1)

MacTO (1161105) | about 5 years ago | (#30345944)

Isn't it odd how one of the easiest thing to convert to bits will be the last thing to be sold as bits? Indeed, it wouldn't surprise me if books are still printed long after every human brain has been uploaded into the memory banks of Google's massive servers.

Seriously though, electronic textbooks won't fly for a good long time to come. The people who select these books tend to be hardened and cynical after dealing with publishers for years. These people know that publishers are trying to turn their books into disposable tomes of consumption. Education boards and school principals are more than aware that publishers are trying to drain them of every last cent with disposable workbooks, never mind expiring electronic books. University professors and college instructors have been around long enough to see new revisions of textbooks come out on regular intervals, with insignificant changes outside of section ordering and problem numbers.

These people will resist, and will resist as long as there aren't any intrinsic benefits for them. Institutional buyers will stick to traditional media where the costs are known until they see a way that it may save them money. Fancy technology won't do that, but integrated assessment tools may. Even post-secondary instructors, from my experience, are timid about playing into the publisher's hands. Most will account for differing editions. Usually they do so by treating the book as a supplementary resource and suggesting that the student to follow along in it, but not specifying section numbers or problems from it. Others will go as far as specifying alternate page and question numbers while making critical remarks about the publishers themselves.

Re:Ain't it odd ... (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 5 years ago | (#30345998)

Indeed, it wouldn't surprise me if books are still printed long after every human brain has been uploaded into the memory banks of Google's massive servers.

Will I still be able to play WoW? And if I do, will it hurt?

Seems like a cheap way out (1)

robwgibbons (1455507) | about 5 years ago | (#30345982)

It would be a much more elegant solution to simply use one screen, which combines the abilities of both technologies. I think when e-ink displays are able to offer full-color and rapid-refresh rates as well as the current benefits of clarity and readability, they will replace LCDs altogether.

Who needs colour textbooks (1)

ittanmomen (596981) | about 5 years ago | (#30345996)

Its a silly argument that the article makes. E-Readers can display B&W pages, and gray shades. This is absolutely sufficient for displaying textbooks. There is a line of extremely bloated textbooks that takes liberties with layout and colour. I just wonder for what purpose colour is used in those books. In my opinion it does neither help understanding of diagrams and models, nor does it improve the information density. Perhaps a revisit of Tufte's rules for information design is in order for publishers?

Re:Who needs colour textbooks (1)

hazem (472289) | about 5 years ago | (#30346772)

Its a silly argument that the article makes. E-Readers can display B&W pages, and gray shades. This is absolutely sufficient for displaying textbooks.

Not if the the book has a chapter on spectroscopy or titration (is the reaction pink or purple?), or shows maps (which shade of grey is water vs land?) or flags of the world. That's just 3 things found in textbooks I can think of that would not work well in grey-scale.

HMMM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#30346028)

OMG A TEXTBOOK!

Animations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#30346034)

Why, I'll have to suggest this to my anatomy teacher!

WTF summary (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 5 years ago | (#30346088)

"Even dedicated e-readers ... can’t handle textbook staples like ... videos and Web-linked supplements"

Pretty damn sure you are making an unfair comparison here. Unless textbooks in the author gets all his textbooks from Hogwarts.

someone doesn't know their subject matter (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 5 years ago | (#30346102)

dedicated e-readers with their crisp printlike displays

Bullshit. There ARE no such e-readers, unless the only print you've ever seen is darkish grey text on lightish grey paper. E-reader displays are NOWHERE NEAR 'printlike' yet. Ugh.

Re:someone doesn't know their subject matter (1)

vlm (69642) | about 5 years ago | (#30346340)

Bullshit. There ARE no such e-readers, unless the only print you've ever seen is darkish grey text on lightish grey paper. E-reader displays are NOWHERE NEAR 'printlike' yet. Ugh.

There are LCD screen book readers that are better than most non-artsy printed books, where the battery life is merely a week or so. Certainly higher contrast than an old yellowed paperback.

Then there are e-Ink or e-Paper or whatever screen book readers, that have no redeeming characteristic at all, other than a battery life measured in page turns, which for a slow reader is possibly measured in months.

The problem is the assumption that given that its technologically hard to make a high contrast display, thus expensive, therefore a high contrast display must inherently be better because its expensive thus more profitable for the manufacturer, err uh umm, I mean marketing says the more expensive one causes less eyestrain. However, there is plenty of evidence that LOWER contrast reduces eyestrain...

http://ergonomics.about.com/od/eyestrain/a/reduce_contrast.htm [about.com]

Our school system must change to reflect this. (1)

RicktheBrick (588466) | about 5 years ago | (#30346312)

There is no excuse for not totally changing our school system. First we should eliminate the grade system. People should have the option of trying to learn a subject until they give up. If someone is trying to learn something than the school system should not shut them off. Second is that we should redefine what teachers do for a living. Computer should be used to teach our children. Teachers should be called motivators. They would have a one on one discussion with each student every day. They would monitor each students progress and attempt to solve the student's problems with learning and motivation to learn. An electronic text book should be written so that the student reads a few pages and than must answer some question. If the student does not pass than the student must reread the pages and take another test. It would not matter how many times the student had to reread the pages before the student learned the material. It certainly would not merit giving a student a low grade when that student needed only a little more time to learn it. One would not ask a young person what grade that person is in, one would only ask if the student was at that student age level in every subject that student was taking. I am excellent at mathematics and when I was in high school I was held back by the school system. I do not do so well in English and this is why my writings are not that well. I know that if I could have learned at my own pace I could have done much better.

Re:Our school system must change to reflect this. (2, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 5 years ago | (#30346446)

There is no excuse for not totally changing our school system.

Could have just given a link to wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programmed_instruction [wikipedia.org]

Assuming you're not just making this all up, I would guess you really enjoyed "the little schemer" LISP/Scheme textbook series?

I'm related by marriage to two school teachers. This is a great plan for teaching math, like you mentioned, such as trigonometric identities. Not so good for creative writing. The other problem is, according to my relatives, and most things I've read online, "teachers" only really "teach" a small portion of the time, the majority is devoted to social worker, surrogate parent, role model, baby sitter/prison guard/overseerer, drill sergent, psychologist, councilor, nurse, etc.

Also the theory of mind is pretty weak for learning so the programmed courses will be pretty weak. Some folks learn things best in a different order, or by a somewhat different method. Also some folks just skip certain areas, take the hit to the grade and move on. Given that, I don't think your plan will work for everyone in all situations.

Re:Our school system must change to reflect this. (1)

Brianwa (692565) | about 5 years ago | (#30347168)

I had a math teacher try something like this for a single chapter. The instruction was still textbook and lecture based, but there were daily assignments that were computer generated and would not let you move on until you had "mastered" the prescribed skillsets. Every assignment corresponded to specific pages of the textbook, so it was basically like what you described. I finished weeks late and very nearly failed that chapter. It was absolutely terrible and if entire classes had been designed like that, I would have not have even tried to finish high school.

Re:Our school system must change to reflect this. (1)

vcgodinich (1172985) | about 5 years ago | (#30347404)

You would basically need one teacher per child, and sorry, most kids aren't worth that economically. You can always homeschool if you don't like it.

NintendoDS.. (1)

Paracelcus (151056) | about 5 years ago | (#30346356)

Already does pretty much the same thing, why doesn't somebody come up with an add-on that will let you do all this stuff?

Re:NintendoDS.. (1)

vcgodinich (1172985) | about 5 years ago | (#30347454)

So does the iPhone, but they both are too small, require constant charging (as compared to a e-ink or a real book) and most importantly are WAY WAY too small.

sex 3ith a Sponge (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#30346950)

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More than display, markup or authoring standards (1)

kentsin (225902) | about 5 years ago | (#30347552)

It is shame that browser still not support footnotes, math, music.

W3C should start thinking that it is not just fancy display for users.

For operating systems, more is necessary for a operating language other than a static language. We need a authoring system which can describe all of the knowledge. First step, we should able to turn the books into that language.

As to display, it will be quite easy.

The data format is more important than the device. (2, Insightful)

lamapper (1343009) | about 5 years ago | (#30348104)

There is something about a newspaper, magazine, book, flipping through it that I simply love. I find it relaxing and enjoyable to lazily leaf through a book, magazine or newspaper. Always will.

I have to admit that if I were searching for a phrase or phrases I would prefer to have it on a computer. Just works better.

What matters to me more is not the device (hand held, net book, tablet, laptop, PC, desktop, tower, etc...) but the data format.

I want to purchase my content ONCE, maybe twice if I have too, but not repeatedly for the rest of my life, every three or four years. That it crazy. I was taught at a young age to try to avoid being penny-wise and dollar foolish. I like to purchase things that last. So if you put the content on cheap materials that will not last, your bad, you will lose my business. I would rather save more money, pay a little more and get the data on better materials that will last. Look at furniture, I will not buy cheap furniture that breaks in less than a year. I would rather pay more (its usually not that much more either) and have it last, it should still be in good shape so that I can give it to my grandchildren if I want too. Instead of something cheaply made that will not last till I see my own children. What a waste of money.

To buy too cheap is penny wise and dollar foolish.

I apply the same logic to computer hardware and software that is proprietary in nature. Having been burned not just once, not just twice, but many more times than three, I am simply tired of seeing my hard earned money being drained away by insane fees, charges and forced updates. I will pay for innovation, however I am hard pressed to see how spreadsheets, word-processors and database programs have really improved enough to be labeled "innovative" since Windows 95/98. Granted you might have a chance with databases of finding one or two obscure new features that might be a "must have". But not with Spreadsheets and Word-Processors.

A friend of mine loved WordPerfect, the technical writers would keep finding new ways to apply WordPerfect to their craft, technical writing, literally every day, day in, day out for multiple years. It was not because the product had been improved, though it was, it was because the product was feature rich and would let a master at their craft (word processing, tech writing, etc..) really excel. Word Perfect was the best Word Processor ever. That was years before Word gained only because of Microsoft Office and Microsoft's control of the desktop. Even later when most had switched to Word after Microsoft corrupted their own file formats to force users to upgrade to the new Word, the experts, the technical writers who knew their craft preferred WordPerfect and other Desktop Publishing tools. It just made sense.

Word did not take over through innovation, but it did take over none the less. We are all poorer for the lack of innovation.

So the idea of forcing us to buy some proprietary e-reader hardware in order to read a proprietary data format that could just as easily be provided in an open data format is crazy. Quite frankly it is beyond offensive and hardly endears us to your brand.

We were not born yesterday.

Even those (probably because they are simply too inexperienced) that have not experienced this kind of FUD, still understand the concept.

Buy me (book, music, content, etc...) on this device in that format (proprietary of course) and in a couple of years that device (proprietary) will be left without support (because we said so) and not only will you be forced to purchase the content again because of the proprietary data format; but they (proprietary company) will attempt to force me (and you dear reader if you mistakenly bought in the last time) to purchase yet more new hardware (proprietary of course) that offers yet again, no new innovative features.

Sorry, many of us are just NOT THAT STUPID, sadly many are still getting burned for their inexperience. Its there money to waste.

You want our money innovate and earn it. As for the content, give it to me in a format that I can read now, with the tools I have now, else we will not purchase. (Read I take my hard earned money and stay home...I will not buy from you).

Innovate to get my money, give me a choice and show me how your product will make our lives better. However try to force me, no way in heck as I will say go to heck, stay home and not spend any money. In fact I will continue to point out the futility of your non-innovative, customer no-service business approach to my friends, neighbors and co-workers. Some will listen and some of them will influence others. It is already happening thanks to the really awful current economy.

And earning back our TRUST, that you have abused so badly, well that SHOULD NOT be easy, should it. (See other posts elsewhere about 7-year and 3-year clocks on what it would take for a company that treats us so miserably to regain our trust. Admittedly a friend of mine came up with this idea, but I agree with it!)

The big issue with these so called e-readers is the data formats. Perhaps you can come up with a better way to display the content (data) than the software applications I currently have on my computer, netbook and Nokia N800 (yes, Linux), perhaps, but I seriously doubt it. So if you can not enhance my enjoyment of the material and/or my ability to retain knowledge, than I can not call it innovation on your part. At that point I call it for what it is, FUD! I do not spend money on FUD anymore thanks to my 3 year and 7 year clocks!

e-readers, e-ink, whatever. We can read .pdf files, though many of us have problems with the closed source applications that build those. Fortunately there are many open source tools that can create .pdf files today. OpenOffice.org Writer can convert an open source document to a .pdf format real fast with a couple of mouse clicks and it just works. PHP can read/write .pdf files and there are many Content Management Systems (CMS) built with PHP. (Nothing wrong with Ruby or Python, if it starts in PHP, you can use those tools too, but not the other way around.). There are other widely supported open source data standards and formats that have been decided on years ago, those are the file formats I want my data in. Give me the content in a format I can use, period.

If you want me to purchase new hardware (i.e. a Kindle), then you are going to have to give me a better reason than its a Kindle, or its an iPhone, etc... My Nokia N800, used price is way less than $200, will work just fine for most content, thanks to its full browser I can even surf the web in the same manner that I surf on my netbook, laptop or PC. Lets see you use a full web browser on a Kindle or iPhone, you can't! Add in two 32GB Micro SD memory card slots for storage (applications and data) in the Nokia Nxxx. Let's see a Kindle or iPhone do that, oh wait, they can NOT! I would like to see the book or song that needs 32GB to store itself, that is a funny thought, perhaps one day.

The technology, the Nokia N770 and N800 have existed since before 2006, not new, they just work. And three years later, in 2009, you want me to purchase proprietary hardware that limits me...really, Really, REALLY? Not going to happen.

These other devices that force proprietary application software and proprietary data formats do not add any value at all. Sorry, just a fact. The reality is that they limit me, I can do more now with my Nokia N800 (thanks to Linux and Open Source) than they will ever be able to do (thanks to the companies failed business model, its a fail because they refuse to allow root access to the device even if they use Linux, meaning the user can not custom install what they need to install to use the device as they see fit...this is NOT SMART!)

It is not about FREE, it's about control over your applications, your hardware and your data.

We can talk again when they create a 3 dimensional image in mid air in front of me, generated form a hand held, that I can interact with as if it were a touch screen. I would call that innovation. Chances are it will run on Linux first anyway. Microsoft, Cellular companies, Cable companies, etc... will still be trying to lock the few stragglers into their smaller and smaller markets. As for the rest of us, the Horse has already left the barn, we are not going backwards,ever. We have adapted even if you have not. Even then you better have a better reason than DCMA and/or copyright for not providing me content in a standardized open source data format.

As I said earlier, we are not that stupid. Companies that continue to treat customers as stupid do not deserve our business.

Hanlin (1)

Artemis3 (85734) | about 5 years ago | (#30349106)

One brand: Hanlin [jinke.com.cn]
Get it, use it, forget the rest.

Those things don't even waste power when displaying a page, only when you change it. It's like an "Etch A Sketch" of sorts: no backlight, no refreshing; you need ambient light the same way you need it for real books. Supports all common formats, ARM9 running Linux. No DRM, no wifi connecting on your back to delete your stuff, simple usb mass storage transfer: connect, copy and go, no software nonsense, and it has an SD slot...

forget the e-ink (1)

pydev (1683904) | about 5 years ago | (#30348494)

Having two different display technologies in the same device is hell in terms of UI design and development. Those hassles mean that you're probably better off just using two LCDs instead of trying to combine e-ink and LCD technology into one gadget.

mod do3n (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#30348630)

po4ulation as well Lizarfd - In other before playing to = 36400 FreeBSD

Won't help me any (1)

Sirusjr (1006183) | about 5 years ago | (#30348772)

Well by the time this is implemented at all, I will be done with my schooling and get little use out of it. If I ever have children, hopefully by then this will be commonplace.
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