An interesting report from Princeton University regarding its pilot program to test Kindle DX units in an academic environment has revealed something notable: namely, that Kindles still feel awkward to students currently in college. Feedback from some students complained about the Kindle's annotation system being "too slow" to keep up with the thinking of a reader who wants to effortlessly mark up text. Others called the entire Kindle device "a poor excuse for an academic tool."
This matches a fear I've had since using my iPhone as a makeshift mini-Kindle, replacing my own reading of paper books for recreation and research: while I enjoy the portability and capacity that e-readers provide, their lack of tangible material creates a helpless feeling for those who enjoy note-taking, highlighting, or otherwise interacting with their books. Unlike my iPhone, however, the Kindle DX was intended to be a savior for universities, an educational aid to rival the old textbook industry. According to this first wave of Princeton feedback, however, it still has a long way to go.
Rather than focus on size or screens, maybe the real holy grail for e-readers of the future lies in finding ways to make digital text as easy to interact with as possible. Apple, we hope you're listening, because if the doorway's open for you to take over the e-reader industry with your magazine-redefining tablet, this might be the best path to true success.… Read more