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Nobody (but me) Likes Kindle for Coursepacks
November 11, 2010 - 10:15pm

I want a Kindle option for my digital coursepack. Almost everyone I'm working with insists that this is a bad idea. iPad, yes. Browser, yes. LMS integration, yes. Print-on-demand, yes. But Kindle, no.

The iPad is the biggest yes. Check out XanEdu's iPad page. is already in the market with their first iteration of an iPad play. We hear lots of talk about iPad's becoming standard in some programs, such as executive MBA type degrees. The iPad provides a path from paper to digital, with the iPad offering features such as annotation, highlighting, and collaboration Course videos can supplement articles in the digital coursepack when delivered through an iPad app. In fact, many of the features of the traditional LMS will eventually migrate to the digital coursepack iPad app - representing a threat (or an opportunity) for the dominant LMS providers.

But back to the Kindle. The anti-Kindle coursepack argument goes like this:

  • Kindles make poor coursepack platforms due to their inability to offer robust annotation, note-taking, and sharing features.
  • There is no good way to distribute coursepacks to Kindle users, as the distribution channel is controlled by Amazon and Amazon is not interested in opening a path.
  • If Amazon does open a path for digital coursepacks on to the Kindle, it will demand too high a revenue share.
  • The Amazon file format is proprietary, does not support EPUB, and the Mobipocket format often does a poor job of converting complex text.
  • Complicated files, those with graphics and tables, don't work well on the Kindle.

Am I missing any anti-Kindle courspack arguments?

Thing is, I like my Kindle. I find reading on it to be a pretty good experience. I like that it is so light. I like that it was cheap ($139). I like the light built into the case. I like that the battery lasts forever. I like carrying my Kindle around, and if I were a student I think I'd want the option to also read my course materials on my Kindle. I'd also want the paper copy, and the iPad copy, but the Kindle version would be important to me as well.

From what I can tell, the big coursepack providers are also moving away from the Kindle. They want to talk about the iPad. They want to talk about the RIM PlayBook. They want to talk about the coming wave of Android tablets. The Kindle is a more difficult conversation.

What do you think?


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