Free My Text Books! March 2, 2009Posted by gordonwatts in physics life, university.
I love the idea behind the Kindle. I don’t own one and I’m not planning on owning one anytime soon… unless…
As I’ve gotten older my eyes have followed my father’s: fantastic until 40, and then fall off a cliff. It won’t be long till I’m wearing trifocals. 🙂 But the more rest I give my eyes – or, the more exercise I give them by looking around at objects at different distances – the better they feel. I stare at computers and books all day long. And so I don’t read much in the way of books at night. A few magazines perhaps, but not often enough to warrant the $360 dollar price of the Kindle.
But what I really want are my text books in electronic form. There is nothing like a well written text book to learn from. The web just doesn’t hack it (yet?) in this department. I can find little nuggets of information but there is almost never any context. But if I want to be taken from basic lagrangians, through group theory, to the Higgs mechanism in some detail… well, I a text book is my best source for that.
I’ve got some 80 of them, taking up a significant bit of my shelf space. They almost never leave my office here at work. The furthest they sometimes make it is home and back. And they are much less useful because of that. There is only one reason for this: they are heavy!
Wouldn’t it be great if they were electronic? I’d be happy to pay the same price for them, so long as I could put them on my various computers. I could display them on my big computer screen, and use my Tablet to take notes or create a lecture. Or even better, if they were in some sort of PDF format (or similar) I could write on them on my tablet and leave myself little margin notes! I’d be quite willing to put up with some DRM as long as it didn’t prevent me from reading it on my various computers.
Scanning through Amazon’s library of text books (as you might expect, I can find almost all the textbooks I need there) I’ve yet to see even one that I could get in electronic form – in any electronic form. What a pity!
Eventually this will happen – I just wish it was faster. And when it does I suspect it will be something like the folks older enough to own vinyl or VHS. Everyone will be forced to re-purchase the books in electronic form. Good thing these text books can be put down as tax write-offs!