Princeton U. E-reader Pilot Program Final Report: Glass Half Full Interpretation

I’ve long wondered how well ebooks would work in a classroom environment. A recent report from the…

Princeton University E-reader Pilot Program

…which had some students use an Amazon Kindle DX and other (the control group) using traditional paper textbooks sheds some light. TechFlash’s Eric Engleman provides a “glass half full” interpretation of the final report from this project…

Princeton gives mixed report card on Amazon’s Kindle DX reader

I fully expected to agree with him before reading the short-form summary of the report. But, I don’t after reading the summary. Here’s my “glass half-full” take: First, the good news is that the ebook experiment was not a total failure. Ebooks are still in a pre-alpha embryonic stage in my opinion despite the fact that they’ve been around for at least a decade now. Second, the main goal of the experiment (reduce printing on paper during the course of a semester) was achieved with Kindle DX users printing about half as much as students using paper books. Third, even the negative comments were constructive ones and can guide ebook developers to a more successful alpha or beta test phase.

As you might guess, the majority of negative experiences and recommendations for improvements centered around annotation tools (especially highlighting) and navigation. Here’s a couple of interesting comments from students when asked what a “perfect reading tool” would have:

– Touch screen
– Allow writing notes in margins around printed text (like a real book)
– Single function ebook reader. Browser and other features are NOT necessary