Who Needs Paper? Books go digital with new e-readers

Students are exchanging flipping pages for scrolling along a six-inch screen of an electronic reading tool called the Amazon Kindle, which may leave hardbacks collecting dust on shelves.

According to Amazon, the Kindle has been its number one best-seller for the past two years. The device weighs 8.7 ounces, which is less than a hardback. Its one-third of an inch width makes it thinner than a magazine.

With more than 670,000 books to choose from, owners can store up to 3,500 and receive books in 60 seconds.

Head of serials librarian Elizabeth Mallory received a Kindle for Christmas in 2009 and uses it regularly.

“I certainly appreciate my sister’s surprise gift,” she said.

Graphic provided by MCT

Graphic provided by MCT Campus

Even though Mallory is using a Kindle, she maintains the reading experience.

“I find the Kindle easier to handle. You know how a book feels? The Kindle feels as good,” she said.

The Kindle can also be synced, which allows Mallory to put books from her Kindle onto her iPod and iPhone, making the device even more portable.

Although the Kindle was released in 2008, it has not received widespread use or ownership among students. Only a few Crusaders knew people who owned a Kindle or a similar device. However, a few institutions have found value in its inventiveness.

Some libraries have lending policies for Kindles. However, lending this tool to patrons is not simple.

“They’re having a real problem of how to check out and what to download and how to enter it (Kindle) in their system,” Mallory said.

It is a device that works best when used individually for personal enjoyment, she said.

Educational institutions, including UMHB, recognize the potential the Kindle has in academia. Dean of the College of Education Marlene Zipperlen described how the college believed incorporating the Kindle would make their doctoral program distinct from others.

Zipperlen said the nature of Electronic Resource Pilot was to analyze the usage of electronic resources and the Amazon Kindle e-reader, as a viable alternative to print media in terms of functionality and student satisfaction.

The project included 16 members of cohort 2 doctorate program and four doctoral professors.

It proved to be embraced by students. A survey of these students who used the Kindle was done, and the response was highly favorable.

“It was easy and user friendly — even for those who were not technology natives,” Zipperlen said.

A rival of the Kindle is the Nook, which is sold through Barnes & Noble.

Junior nursing major Sarah Ashley does not know much about the Kindle but thinks her Nook is just as good as or even better than the Kindle.

“I looked up all the features, and the Nook had better features than the Kindle, and I like Barnes & Noble as an actual store,” she said.

Ashley prefers being able to go into Barnes & Noble for help with her Nook if problems arise.

Though she does not use it for educational purposes, she finds many entertaining things to do with it.

“My Nook is awesome, and I can play games as well as browse the Internet and download books from anywhere on it,” she said.

Mallory is torn between reading books on her Kindle and using the actual copies. She enjoys flipping pages and looking at them but believes those capabilities are not limited by her Kindle.

She said, “I can do the same with my Kindle. I can turn the pages and get a feel for the book. It’s just not with paper.”

Author: Chelesea Carter

Chelesea Carter is a senior English major minoring in writing at UMHB. She is an assistant page editor for The Bells newspaper. Though she came from the small town of Caldwell, Texas, she spent most of her teenage years in Aggieland. Chelesea enjoys baking delicious goodies, reading novels and discovering new things about others. Writing about social issues allows Chelesea to share her compassion for helping others. Her life-long goal is to improve the desolate state of the world.

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