How the $79 Kindle Touch will change the eReader educational market

Posted by admin on Oct 4, 2011 in books, news, opinion, technology |

Amazon just announced news of its first ever tablet, the Kindle Fire which has a swish seven inch screen with a dedicated browser (called Silk) and looks to take on the iPad as a serious contender. OK, it’s like the iPad Lite, but with the weight of the Amazon inventory behind it might be the first tablet that makes it into the mainstream- did I mention it’s UK (estimated) retail price will be £125 compared to the most basic iPad at £399- you do the math.

However, I’m actually more intrigued and excited with the news that they’re selling a new Kindle eReader for $79 though (that’s the US price) as this might finally be the breakthrough device which puts eReaders firmly on the curriculum. Up till this point eReaders were a covetable piece of property, but one that many people felt were slightly unnecessary- or out of their pricepoint.

This lowered retail price puts buying a Kindle well into impulse buying territory and practically guarantees that every other household will be finding one under the tree this Christmas. With prices dropping in such a manner, I can imagine that Amazon will next turn its sights into making the Kindle a mandatory school accessory.

We’ve already seen the proliferation of iPad use in high end private schools, but a device like the Kindle- with the associated bulk buy discount and personalized profanity filters- would be Amazon’s way of consolidating the eReader hold, as if they make it into mainstream public education their dominance will be unrivalled for the next 20 years or so. Thee do exist fairly sturdy school eReaders already- the Ectaco educational eReader for example, but costs and compatibility issues often outweigh the fact that you can drop them and throw them around.

Kids nowadays already value and care for their mobile phones and as they’ve learnt how to look after them, being able to care for an eBook reader is not out of the question. Amazon already offer dedicated discount services for schools who bulk buy their products and though I can’t actually find out exactly how much, I can quote this statement from them;

‘We do provide discounts for large orders. If you are buying Kindle devices and do not want students to be able to buy additional content, you can remove the method of payment from the Amazon account after any desired books are purchased.’

The Kindle Store has a dedicated education section with helpful Q&A’s for teachers, so they’re well aware that they’d like to tap this market. Whilst I don’t think eReaders will make it into university just yet (unless you’re on an English course) for high school students sick of overweight bags and constantly paying out for new books this could be ideal.

You can check out their Faculty guide here which will likely soon be updated with info about the new keyboard less Kindles coming out. I’m all for this- there have been other eReaders before with relatively low pricepoints, but the allure of $79 for a Kindle (even with the targeted ads) has to mean that people will go from wavering about purchasing one to making the jump. It doesn’t have to be one or the other- I still happily read paper books, but the convenience of a portable device can’t be overlooked – especially if you’re attempting Gone with the Wind or the latest Wheel of Time tome.

I think Amazon has made a great step in enabling the next generation will be dedicated eReaders and at this pricepoint it’s fairly certain that a large portion of adults will finally be making the jump- if only to ‘see what all the fuss is about’. I predict great things for eBooks in 2012, and though the Kindle Fire might be swishy and exciting, it’s the low cost Kindle that has me really hopeful about the future of eBooks and eReaders as we know them.

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Oct 4, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Interesting read, a couple of things come to mind though. I’m not sure whether you’re aiming this at UK, US or both but the $79 Kindle is £89 so I doubt the Fire will £125 if (when) if ever launches in the UK. Amazon to my mind also have no release plan for the UK so I’m not getting my hopes up just yet.

Also, because students have a Kindle doesn’t mean they’re not going to be constantly shelling out for new books. In fact it could work the other way, as far as I’m aware there is no way to resell Kindle books once purchased. This could leave students with a load of books they no longer need and have no means to try and get any money back from.

I wish Amazon would have released it Worldwide at launch, or at least UK. I think they’ve missed a massive opportunity to make a dent in the iPad market.

Oct 4, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Hi Matt, To clear up a few points;

I’m aware that the same model will be £89 in the UK, which sucks for us, but is at least advert free. In terms of its usage in schools, a lot of books on the syllabus- Shakespeare etc are available for free with places like Project Gutenburg and those that have to be bought can be shared with other Kindles (temporarily for 14 days) so kids can save money that way. As more devices get bought I also believe eBook prices will drop. Students already have a lot of books they never read again and many of the selling options are fairly limited and time consuming. At university level whee books cost more this is more an issue, but people are resigned to paying for high school books. We also may see a growth in ebook lending libraries now that ebook readers are cheaper.

With the Kindle Fire, the £125 price mentioned was an estimate based on the US retail price. We have no date for the UK yet which is a shame, but likely due to licensing issues and UK/EU laws. I’m frustrated- I’d like to have it now, but don’t see it as an iPad killer exactly, as it will be used for different things. I wish Amazon had thought to roll this out universally but I suppose the USA is their bigger market.

Oct 19, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Kindle has some shortcomings when it comes to use in education, and the $79 version is subsidized with ads which may not go over well in schools. There are many options out there that cost less than $100 and have more features and flexibility than the black and white, ultra-basic Kindle. I hope schools do their homework (pun intended) and offer their students the best option that money can buy.

Oct 20, 2011 at 9:29 am

Hi Zara

Thanks for the reply. I wasn’t really thinking in terms of school kids, that’s a good point.

Be nice to see ebook lending libraries, particularly for longer term loans to cover Uni and stuff. I wouldn’t see it as an iPad killer as such but it would certainly make people stop and think, and the price point is a big plus. There’s very little (no) alternative at the moment.



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