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Amazon’s textbook technology will save money, environment

Amazon is now in the process of testing a Kindle prototype that will be adequately equipped for textbooks.

For those who don’t know, a Kindle is a hand-held digital reading device created by Amazon. It is designed to be lightweight, portable and read like a book. The screen is intended to simulate paper, so it is not too hard on your eyes, and it has minor Wi-Fi capability so you can buy a book off of Amazon and have it delivered to your Kindle in seconds.

This nifty little contraption is getting a bit of a face-lift to be effective and useful with textbooks. The screen will be enlarged, and more advanced Wi-Fi technology will
be included. Users will be able to take notes on their books with the Kindle as well. Most importantly, books bought for a Kindle will be significantly cheaper than their physical counterparts.

The Kindle is not just going to be easy on our backs and pocketbooks but on the
environment as well. College students purchase about “a tree per year” in textbooks, according to the Green Press Initiative. Over the past three years, the nation’s book publishing industry consumed an average of 20 million trees per year – and that’s only accounting for books printed in the U.S.

If colleges make the transition to the Kindle, or any electronic form of textbook for that
matter, it would be a logical and essential step in maintaining the viability of our planet.

Admittedly, there is something to be said for holding a book in your hands. I am one of the first to feel a pang of regret with the realization we will, undoubtedly, stop printing books in the not-so-distant future. But when it comes to textbooks, that pang of regret is quieted when I realize buying several textbooks I will probably never read again is killing trees.

Those who are not quite ready for the eBook revolution shouldn’t stand up in arms yet, however. There are still some large kinks to be worked out before this device, or a similar one, can become mainstream and accepted on college campuses.

Some campuses looking to make the switch are hearing complaints about a high degree of usage difficulty. Students have reported that it’s harder to take notes, find your place while in class and generally make your way through the book.

Forty percent of students at Northwest Missouri State University, which has tested the device extensively in a pilot program, said they studied less because of the difficulty of using the devices, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

And certain subjects are a more feasible fit for the device then others. An English or
history textbook can be adapted very easily to a hand-held device, but something like a calculus book or a colorful science book is a much different story.

Here’s to hoping the new Kindle will alleviate some of these problems.

The bigger screen will make the books easier to take notes on, and the Internet access will be a huge draw for overly interconnected college students.

Regardless of your feelings about saving books or the environment, you must admit the future of textbooks is inevitably upon us. Something that is sleek, portable and allows us to carry an entire library of books around with us daily will certainly catch on soon enough.

After all, it didn’t take much for us to be convinced that we needed our entire music library attached to our hips at every moment of the day. I hope that we will soon feel the same way about our book library.

Drucilla Tigner is a student at the University of Texas.