How can anyone think this is a bad idea? A high school in Clearwater Florida bought Kindles for some 2,000 students. Kindle Stand is thrilled, though we recognize some serious challenges.
Cost Analysis for School Boards
A printed textbook can cost $100 or more. Equipping a child with three or four textbooks is a big investment. While an e-reader may seem crazy expensive, an eTextbook may cost 50% or less of the price of a hardcover. Some math:
4 hardcover textbooks = $400
1 eReader = $140
4 eTextbooks = $200
Savings for eTextbook solution = $60 per student
Of course, these savings arise only if a school is about to replace all the paper textbooks with newer or different versions. In practice, it’s likely to take several years to realize a return on investment in Kindles and eBooks for every student.
Loading an eTextbook onto an eReader necessarily carries severe limitations. For example, what is the procedure for passing a ninth grade eTextbook from this year’s class to the incoming class next year? The easy answer from a publisher’s perspective is: collect the eReaders and hand them out next year. So, a high school will need to manage a discreet set of Kindles for each class level.
Kindle Stand suggests that any other method of handing down eTextbooks would actually be more complicated than handing down eReaders. A move to other reader function would require cornering each outgoing student’s Kindle and temporarily pairing it with a new Kindle. Or… an administrator would download an eTextbook from a purchasing account to an incoming student’s eReader. This procedure would have to wipe a copy from an outgoing student’s eReader (for copyright purposes, each purchased copy of an eTextbook can exist on only one Kindle).
Of course, when you collect Kindles from outgoing students to pass along to incoming students, you’ll be passing along annotations, eBooks, and any personal documents students loaded on the devices. This creates a maintenance nightmare in its own right.
eTextbook Support for the Future
The eTextbook publisher who most quickly comes to dominance in this new era will be one who provides a scholastic distribution model that makes handing down eTextbooks smooth and simple. As a publisher, Kindle Stand would work to provide a simple interface with the following features:
Manage eReaders – administrators record a list of eReaders and assign them to specific grade and/or subject groups. Administrators must be able to move eReaders from one group to another easily and without losing license to the books installed on them.
Bulk Load – administrators push new eTextbook titles onto every eReader in a managed group.
Bulk Wipe – administrators reset the contents of all eReaders in a managed group to a factory default configuration.
Group Master – administrators build a master image for a group that may contain all appropriate textbooks for the kids in that group; a single command downloads the master to all eReaders in the group.
Of course, administrators will need to be able to work with a single eReader as well… and none of this should increase the expense of owning and handing down an eTextbook indefinitely.
As easy as it is to maintain a store of aging paper textbooks, eTextbooks will face stiff resistance until it is just as easy to manage them.
For more information and analysis about this topic please visit Need To Know on PBS.