Print 28 comment(s) - last by metacontactabl.. on Aug 28 at 10:45 AM

Amazon could aim for college students with next Kindle

After seeing a high level of demand for its Kindle e-book reader, Amazon plans to market its newest Kindle to high school and college students tired of lugging around books in between classes.

"There are already several new, improved versions of the Kindle in the works," McAdams Wright Ragen analyst Tim Bueneman said.  "But AMZN has no plans, however, for an MP3 music audio version.  We guess the new version will have improved interface operating controls.  This has been an issue with some buyers."

A product weighing just 10.3 ounces and able to hold multiple text books could be appealing to college students who typically spend hundreds of dollars per semester on text books, then have to lug them around campus.  The college textbook business in the United States is a multi-billion dollar market that faces high fees because storage and upkeep of text books is expensive.

The most expensive part of text books traditionally has been paper, printing and editorial costs, which amount to 37 percent of the textbook's overall cost.  If more students began using digital e-books, it would be possible to cut the price of text books almost in half by the time they reach students.

Even though Amazon hasn't launched an expensive advertising campaign to sell Kindle, it has seen solid sales numbers relying strictly on word of mouth from Amazon customers who already own the e-book reader.

Unconfirmed reports estimate Amazon has shipped as many as 240,000 Kindles since last November, although Amazon has remained silent regarding exact sales figures.  It is unknown how these numbers were compiled, and Amazon said it had not been contacted for confirmation of the 240,000 sales figure.

Citigroup's Mark Mahaney believes Amazon will sell about 378,000 Kindle units before the end of 2008.

In May, the company dropped the Kindle's price from $399 down to $359, which likely helped increase sales further.  The device currently has more than 125,000 available books, with the addition of 5,000 more in June.  Expect more big things for the tech as it takes on the world of college textbooks.

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Tell me about it!
By pauldovi on 8/27/2008 10:19:02 AM , Rating: 2
My used Dynamics book was over $120.

4 books cost me $600, and 3 out of 4 of them were used. 1 was paperback!

I would love to have a (color) Kindle that I could buy text books on for $20-$50.

RE: Tell me about it!
By The Irish Patient on 8/27/2008 10:42:03 AM , Rating: 2
I also bought the majority of my textbooks used. If I had to buy new, then I recouped some of the money by selling the textbook to someone else.

The good news is that current editions will cost a little less in electronic format. The bad news is that DRM will completely eliminate the used textbook market, mitigating the savings.

RE: Tell me about it!
By stephenfs on 8/27/2008 10:49:31 AM , Rating: 2
Graduate level textbooks are the worst. I guess they are specialized and not in high demand, so they make them very expensive. And I don't know if I ever found a used textbook for a class in my major. Maybe students always keep those books.

RE: Tell me about it!
By iNGEN on 8/27/2008 3:39:10 PM , Rating: 2
I'm gonna don my tin foil hat for this one. This is all just a push to exercise greater control using DRM. My old college professors and their publishers have complained for years about the effect of the secondary market on sales.

I'd bet a pretty penny licensing makes each title non-transferable and DRM will keep students from violating the license.

RE: Tell me about it!
By Zoomer on 8/27/2008 8:16:24 PM , Rating: 3
"DRM will keep students from violating the license."

Funniest joke I've heard today!

RE: Tell me about it!
By Oregonian2 on 8/27/2008 2:10:09 PM , Rating: 2
I would presume the prices of the textbooks would be the same as before -- it's not the printing and paper that represents a big part of the book's selling price, I think it pretty small even for physically large books (look how one can get huge full color cookbooks for $20 at B&N and other bookstores).

Not only would the same full new price have to be paid, there also may not be a way to sell/transfer it. In other words, removing the possibility of buying a used copy.

I'd imagine the publishers would be in favor of this idea for that reason alone.

Its nice but limited.
By Mitch101 on 8/27/2008 10:05:03 AM , Rating: 3
I work with a guy who bought the kindle and I would be happy to purchase one myself and for the wife however they charge a fee to convert your PDF documents to the kindle. I guess I could find a program to merge 50 books together this way I only get charged once for the conversion but I can always throw my books onto a USB stick and read them on the computer. I would prefer something like the kindle though as the couch is more comfortable.

Second It does not works with books from the local library which would be a major selling point for my wife. It would be great if you could use a device like this and the books expired instead of having to waste gas going back to the library to return them. You could even check out books from the library online without making the trip to the library. My mother in law does this with audio books which she can put onto here MP3 player so why not books like this from the local library.

I am all for the kindle but want to be able to dock and upload my own stuff without service fees and second use it at the local library. Otherwise I feel its a $350.00 book club that nickle and dimes you to death.

I guess I will be waiting for a good China made knockoff that docks with my pc.

RE: Its nice but limited.
By Mitch101 on 8/27/2008 10:28:45 AM , Rating: 2
For the record I am aware of the Sony eReader but the kindle is a much nicer screen.

RE: Its nice but limited.
By consumerwhore on 8/27/2008 6:14:22 PM , Rating: 2
Considering they both have the same screen, manufactured by the only e-ink screen manufacturer in the world, I'd be curious to know how you came to that conclusion.

RE: Its nice but limited.
By androticus on 8/27/2008 5:10:36 PM , Rating: 2
they charge a fee to convert your PDF documents to the kindle

You are confusing things. They offer a wireless transfer and conversion service for a small fee per document. But you can still do it yourself on your PC and transfer them that way.

But to my knowledge, the process is still very clumsy and inconvenient at the present. That is still the big deal breaker for me -- most of my reading is of scientific papers in pdf format so that process has got to be much more streamlined and convenient for the device to be appealing to me.

I'm skeptical
By Polynikes on 8/27/2008 10:55:34 AM , Rating: 2
Though I've never read from a Kindle, I'm afraid it may end up annoying the hell out of me. I don't like reading for extended periods on a computer screen. I much prefer paper. And honestly, I seriously doubt the savings will be too significant if the textbook manufacturers switched to digital. I don't know what their cost structure is, but I'm guessing the actual cost of printing and binding the books isn't a majority of the overall cost of production.

RE: I'm skeptical
By Keeir on 8/27/2008 11:40:17 AM , Rating: 2
I don't like reading for extended periods on a computer screen. I much prefer paper.

The really great thing about the Kindle... it uses E-Ink for its display screen. This means its not light-emitting, but only light reflecting technology.

You can read it well in full sun and the "white" space is not the glaring of the LCD or CRT, but rather a dull greyish very similar to newspaper. Both the Sony-ereader and Kindle remind me of the local paper (without blurry ink)...

RE: I'm skeptical
By Spivonious on 8/27/2008 11:48:50 AM , Rating: 2
Can it display color? Because a lot of my textbooks had nice color charts and pictures that actually were helpful for understanding the material.

RE: I'm skeptical
By PseudoKnight on 8/27/2008 1:54:00 PM , Rating: 2
Current e-book readers like the Kindle and the Sony one do not display color. They're very high resolution grey scale. The technology exists, though, and it's only a matter of time before we see color electronic ink displays in e-book readers.

Damn right
By FITCamaro on 8/27/2008 8:44:35 AM , Rating: 1
Not only are textbooks abhorrently overpriced, they're heavy. In the modern age it's pretty pathetic that a good e-book reader hasn't been widely adopted by schools. I mean all you need to is a good display of decent size. Store the books on flash cards. And have somewhere on the screen to makes notes with using a stylus or keyboard.

As much as I hate it, PDF would do the trick for the file format.

RE: Damn right
By killerroach on 8/27/2008 8:50:57 AM , Rating: 2
I have had some classes where we have been instructed to buy textbooks (or portions of books) online in an encrypted PDF format, so it's not like it's being done... that aside, this seems to largely be taking place with economics and mathematics texts, but hopefully the trend spreads.

There truly are markets in everything, even better ways to lug your textbooks around.

RE: Damn right
By jnmfox on 8/27/2008 9:45:37 AM , Rating: 4

It is just ridiculous that textbooks cost so much and yet none of the publishers have really pushed to sell their books digitally...but then again by selling big heavy books I'm sure they fell more justified in ripping off students.

This is probably more likely
By jajig on 8/27/2008 8:43:34 AM , Rating: 5
The most expensive part of text books traditionally has been paper, printing and editorial costs, which amount to 37 percent of the textbook's overall cost. If more students began using digital e-books, it would be possible to almost double profits by the time they reach students.

I can't see text books every dropping in price.

By isorfir on 8/27/2008 8:50:49 AM , Rating: 3
The college textbook business in the United States is a multi-billion dollar market that faces high fees because storage and upkeep of text books is expensive.

If storage and upkeep is so expensive, why release a "new" edition of year or two that doesn’t have any new content? All they do is change chapter order and maybe drop or add a chapter here and there so instructors can't use old editions.

Everyone knows college textbooks are a racket and I'm glad that Amazon is looking to see if eBooks would work, but I don't think students will see any significant savings if all textbooks went digital. One of my textbooks for this semester was offered as an eBook, but it was only $20 cheaper than the text. After just spending $700 this semester I know something should change.

RE: Right
By CubicleDilbert on 8/28/2008 7:03:05 AM , Rating: 2
Storage & upkeeping is costly for the schools if they rent the expensive books to students.
On the other hand, professors are encouraged by the publishers to always use the newest edition (which often has a little new chapter just to justify the new purchase). Schoolbooks are a money-printing machine and the books run for years and years with a solid buyer market (new students every semester).
When publishers have solved the dire "student problem" of simply copying the expensive electronic books in the schoolyard, the publisher will even give new Kindles away for free if they can secure a DRM'd market of electronic books every semester.
-> AND no student will be able to sell his used textbook at the end of the year. Imagine no fleamarkets, no used books. Your book expires at the end of the school year, your little sister has to buy it again for her starting classes.

I worked on a consulting project in this business, and while there are tremendous profit opportunities for the school book publishers, at the same time I felt totally disgusted and appaled by this particular business method to extract profits of those who can least afford it: pupils, students and poor working class citizens.
Just my 3cts (inflation adjusted)

Requires BIG Changes for Textbooks
By DaveLessnau on 8/27/2008 12:02:30 PM , Rating: 2
To use the Kindle for college textbooks would require BIG changes to the device. Right now, the Kindle has a 3.6" x 4.9" display. That's not even big enough for a normal paperback (about 4" x 7"). At a minimum, that screen size needs to be increased to standard hardback dimensions (about 6" x 8"). Preferably, it should go to a normal textbook size (about 7" x 9"). Then, there's the graphics. Currently, the Kindle's graphics look like something done with an Etch-A-Sketch. For text-based subjects, that might be OK. But for any of the technical subjects, it just won't work. Ditto for color. Color carries information in those technical books. Without it, you lose the information. So, just on that front, the Kindle could only be used as a replacement for textbooks if it were turned into a something on the order of a tablet PC. Plus, a lot of schools now require students to have laptops (my son's school required a tablet). If students have to have tablet-sized PCs anyway, why require them to carry an additional, single-purpose device solely for books? Just use the tablet. If schools would use their intellectual talent to produce and distribute digital books as part of the tuition instead of treating book publication to be another form a remuneration for the professors, tablets would work just fine.

By JustTom on 8/27/2008 12:08:17 PM , Rating: 2
another form a remuneration for the professors, tablets would work just fine.

Bingo. Won't happen though...

A few challenges
By sonoran on 8/27/2008 3:21:33 PM , Rating: 2
How does one go about highlighting sections of text, underlining text, jotting notes in the margin or putting stickies on frequently referenced pages with a Kindle?

RE: A few challenges
By sonoran on 8/27/2008 3:23:21 PM , Rating: 2
...and what happens when your Kindle, with all your textbooks, stops working right as you begin cramming for finals?

By sforce on 8/27/2008 11:49:32 AM , Rating: 2
Amazon plans to market its newest Kindle to high school and college students...

"Righteous Students: We Don't Want Kindles -- We Want Cheap Books"

By nayy on 8/27/2008 12:29:43 PM , Rating: 2
How restrictive is Amazon's DRM in ebooks, I don't see publishers letting out content without appropriate protection.
What if I want to borrow a book, or resale it after the term is over?
The only way a see this working is a ebook rental service with the option to buy a full digital or printed copy at the end of the term with a small discount.

On another note,
Color is often important to deliver concepts in textbooks, many books will need to be edited to fit a grayscale medium increasing the cost of the ebooks.

By metacontactable on 8/28/2008 10:45:57 AM , Rating: 2
lets see now.....

- will version II of Kindle be better than version I ?....inevitable
- will there be a colour version within 2 years?.... inevitable
- is the Kindle Amazon-centric? .... totally
- will Apple have its own version within 24 months? ... inevitable
- will it be better than Kindle? .... inevitable
- will they market it better than Amazon? ... inevitable
- will it be better designed than the Kindle? ... inevitable
- will they give it iPod look and feel? ... hmmmmm

I think I know which way this will all be heading!

What I dont know is how the hell this character from Citi came up with 378,000 in sales.

By stonemetal on 8/27/2008 11:02:55 AM , Rating: 1
The most expensive part of text books traditionally has been paper, printing and editorial costs, which amount to 37 percent of the textbook's overall cost.

so what they are just going to stop editing books in digital releases?

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton
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