As assumed, Amazon’s (AMZN) forthcoming, big-screen Kindle isn’t just for newspapers: It’s also for academic textbooks. Beginning this fall, Amazon will test the new Kindle with six universities, including Case Western in Cleveland, where some freshmen will be given “large-screen Kindles with textbooks for chemistry, computer science, and a freshman seminar already installed,” according to the WSJ.
This could be great news for both Amazon and the textbook industry — assuming publishers can maintain their margins, and Amazon can make a nice profit on each book sold.
Beyond being cooler and lighter than dead-tree books, if Kindle textbooks can be sold for significantly cheaper than paper textbooks — stripping out shipping and printing costs should help — then students have an incentive to pick the electronic copies. And publishers win by reducing the used book market.
There’s probably some work left until a Kindle is a good experience for students — annotations probably need to be improved, device costs reduced, colour screens added for illustrations, etc. And this seems more immediately useful for university course packs/reading pamphlets before it’s immediately a textbook replacement. But potentially a big hit in the long term.