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Old 01-25-2010, 11:15 AM   #1
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Can Calibre overcome basic e-reader limitations for schools? - ZDNet

An article from ZDNet on how Calibre could allow students to buy a cheaper eReader and actually use it for course material. If it catches on, it could be the tipping point for educational ereading.

http://education.zdnet.com/?p=3575

Quote:
Larry Dignan reported last week that $150 was a magical pricepoint at which we could expect to see a whole lot of e-readers getting sold. Citing research by the Yankee Group,

…the e-book reader [is defined] as devices with the following characteristics:

Processor speeds limited to 700 Mhz or less;
ePaper displays;
Storage capped at 4 GB.
Yankee Group’s forecast is based on the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader, Interead’s COOL-ER, Plastic Logic’s Que, enTourage’s eDGe, Hearst’s Skiff and Foxit’s eSlick.

These all share the limitations I’ve discussed before and yet Calibre has the potential to transform these cheap, limited devices into a portable reference and pleasure library that is hard to match. Check out this video overview of Calibre, an open source e-book management system that replaces management systems sold with a variety of mainstream e-book
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Old 01-25-2010, 11:45 AM   #2
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Why should processor speed have any impact on the type of device it is? Shouldn't the display, and intended use determine that?
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Old 01-25-2010, 11:51 AM   #3
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Thanks for posting this!

And way to go Kovid! This is great publicity for your excellent program.

My hopes:

1) You make a ton of money off Calibre somehow - you deserve it. Hard to do with an open source product. Maybe customized support contracts like Red Hat.

2) Publishers and bookstores never get control of Calibre. I shudder to think what BN or Amazon would do to it if they could. It is best just like it is - open source, independent platform, with support for about every device made.

Thanks again!

Robert
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Old 01-25-2010, 11:53 AM   #4
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And why should a general content management system suddenly conquer all the hardware and software limitations of the devices that render them very poor tools for academia? I don't quite understand this article.
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Old 01-25-2010, 11:56 AM   #5
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The big thing here also is that calibre can not convert DRMed ebooks and that is for legal reasons. So unless the textbooks or open and not DRM then this can not help either.

Chuck
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Old 01-25-2010, 12:21 PM   #6
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I imagine it's just the idea of carrying a lot of documents at once. Texts aren't the only thing students use: journal articles, newspapers, and regular ol' trade books are part of standard curriculum.

ITunes for research sources is more the pitch, or so I read; although the article doesn't describe that very well.
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Old 01-25-2010, 12:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cvkemp View Post
The big thing here also is that calibre can not convert DRMed ebooks and that is for legal reasons. So unless the textbooks or open and not DRM then this can not help either.

Chuck
I dont know that conversion is an issue, at least not for the use of Calibre. If the schools choose readers that can read various formats and then make sure that texts that they purchase are in one of those formats then all is well.

The problem would be if the schools begin making text book purchases based on whether or not they can be read in their reader and not based on the merits of the book itself.
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Old 01-25-2010, 12:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nboshart View Post
An article from ZDNet on how Calibre could allow students to buy a cheaper eReader and actually use it for course material. If it catches on, it could be the tipping point for educational ereading.

http://education.zdnet.com/?p=3575
I think the $150 price point might be a bit low, or unrealistic. In my opinion, and much of this is just personal preference, the ability to highlight and take notes in the books themselves is a huge study aid. I don't see a decent quality reader coming out with the requisite touch screen in the $150 price range.

And if it does then I think Kovid needs to add some support for notes and highlighting. Of course that would be device specific so maybe that is where some money may be made.
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Old 01-25-2010, 12:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nboshart View Post
I imagine it's just the idea of carrying a lot of documents at once. Texts aren't the only thing students use: journal articles, newspapers, and regular ol' trade books are part of standard curriculum.

ITunes for research sources is more the pitch, or so I read; although the article doesn't describe that very well.
That's what I suspected, but the author's incompetence with content management is quite far from the only or even the biggest obstacle in making ebook devices usable for education. Calibre or no, I would not be so cruel as to subject students to current ebook reading devices for class-related material.
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Old 01-25-2010, 01:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsvick View Post
In my opinion, and much of this is just personal preference, the ability to highlight and take notes in the books themselves is a huge study aid.
If you are talking about college textbooks that you buy that's all well and good, but you aren't supposed to write in "loaned" K-12 (or the furriner equivalent) in the first place. And there are plenty (a majority?) of poor college students who try to keep their bought books pristine in the hopes of selling them back after the course is over. So for a large segment (the majority?) of the target audience the choice is between a textbook that you don't write in and a textbook that you don't write it.

(I've never been a person who writes in books.)
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Old 01-25-2010, 01:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardeegee View Post
If you are talking about college textbooks that you buy that's all well and good, but you aren't supposed to write in "loaned" K-12 (or the furriner equivalent) in the first place. And there are plenty (a majority?) of poor college students who try to keep their bought books pristine in the hopes of selling them back after the course is over. So for a large segment (the majority?) of the target audience the choice is between a textbook that you don't write in and a textbook that you don't write it.

(I've never been a person who writes in books.)
I don't like to write in books either, but I do write on note paper that I stick between the pages, and in a pinch, I can use light pencil in margins. Never really found much use for highlighting, when I can use a penciled-in arrow or asterisk in the margin, which erases quite nicely.

One day in the future, it'll be easy and useful to do this sort of things with ebooks, but not today, unfortunately.
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Old 01-25-2010, 01:32 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LDBoblo View Post
I don't like to write in books either, but I do write on note paper that I stick between the pages, and in a pinch, I can use light pencil in margins. Never really found much use for highlighting, when I can use a penciled-in arrow or asterisk in the margin, which erases quite nicely.

One day in the future, it'll be easy and useful to do this sort of things with ebooks, but not today, unfortunately.
You could always use Post-It(TM) notes on your eBook reader's screen. If anyone asks why, tell them you're one step ahead of the apocryphal blonde with Wite-Out(TM) on the computer screen.

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Old 01-25-2010, 02:03 PM   #13
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I'm sure Calibre will be a handy tool, but I don't know if it will really make a huge difference. However I do see how some sort of content management system that is specifically designed for education will probably be a necessary component in educational ebook infrastructure.

Maybe Calibre or a derivative work could handle that, as a paid or service-supported add-on.

Of course, it may also be possible for an organization like Amazon to leverage its existing infrastructure for this task. E.g. the school's IT admin logs into a site, queues up certain texts to distribute to the users, and manages the email addresses associated with the devices.
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Old 01-25-2010, 04:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardeegee View Post
If you are talking about college textbooks that you buy that's all well and good, but you aren't supposed to write in "loaned" K-12 (or the furriner equivalent) in the first place. And there are plenty (a majority?) of poor college students who try to keep their bought books pristine in the hopes of selling them back after the course is over. So for a large segment (the majority?) of the target audience the choice is between a textbook that you don't write in and a textbook that you don't write it.

(I've never been a person who writes in books.)
For the most part I agree with you, I mostly only did wrote in the books I knew I'd be keeping but making notes in the books was a huge study aid. Giving the students the eBooks will give them all the opportunity to do so. And I bet they can even work something out for a selling the books back as well.
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