As more and more reports point to Amazon's attempts to enter the $5.5 billion US market for textbooks with their Kindle e-reader, one has to ask, can you trust kids with these things?
I know Amazon's efforts are really focused on college students, but I'm looking at stacks of outdated, dog-eared books and thinking that electronic textbooks on a thin light device that could handle annotations, web links, etc., is a pretty fine idea. I need new books at all levels of instruction and, by the time teachers and principals place their textbook orders, the science and social studies texts are out of date. Math and English might not change much, but paperbacks for literature classes don't last long in a backback.
Electronic texts, of course, seem to be the answer, especially if a lower publishing cost could offset the cost of the Kindles. However, Kindles currently offer limited Internet access via cellular service, meaning that our content filters are no good. I would expect that future generations would improve upon the largely text-based browser on the current model. Similarly, college kids may not be the most responsible folks out there, but the reason textbooks are so short-lived (aside from changing content) is the tendency for kids to jam them in backpacks, shove them in lockers, lose them under their beds, and, well, the list goes on.
If a kid breaks a Kindle, who pays for the replacement? In many communities, the parents can barely pay to replace a damaged $100 textbook. A $400 Kindle would be out of the question.
I'm not saying that electronic texts aren't a great idea at all levels. I'd like to believe that the days of exorbitantly expensive paper texts are drawing slowly to a close. I just wonder if a ruggedized primary/secondary version might not make a lot of sense or simply the adoption of online texts instead. What do you think?