Posts Tagged ‘eReader’

Going Digital

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

When you're faced with a stack of newspapers and the sleek Kindle, is there really any need to figure out which is the better option?

I’m not a fan of digital textbooks. Before my hard copies come in the mail, I’ve been forced to pore over previews provided by Google Books. Besides the fact that the books have put me to sleep once or twice, the experience wasn’t otherwise enjoyable.  Having to stare at the tiny letters for over an hour isn’t my idea of fun. But if I wanted to stay caught up while waiting for my real textbooks, I had to persist. I did – but only grudgingly.

Yet, every quarter I think I find more offerings to download my books online. For the most part, it’s cheaper. And it’s also greener. There are no production costs and no paper used! While this may seem like a blessing I’m frightened by the downfall of the physical textbooks and regular books. I stare at a screen all day anyways; I prefer not have to stare at it while I’m enjoying light reading. Yet I could metaphorically hear the nail being hammered into the coffin when I got the news that Borders is filing for bankruptcy. Barnes and Noble is still strong since it’s riding the ebook wave with it’s eReader the Nook but there doesn’t seem to be demand for companies that just sell books in print.

Borders has always been a favorite store of mine. While Barnes and Noble seems almost formal with its bustling Starbucks carrying customers and forest green designs, Borders has always seemed more comfortable and relaxed. I’ll be sad to see its stores go. But in order to survive you have to compete. Without an e-reader out, Borders doesn’t really stand a chance.

Something that’s even more telling of the popularity of digital texts is the rapid growth in the tablet PC market. After Apple’s iPad launch last year, it seems like other computer companies are scrambling to catch up in the race for the best tablet. This year brings us the Apple iPad 2, Motorola XOOM, HP TouchPad, and more. More people than ever own tablet PC’s. A tablet PC isn’t the same as an eReader, but consumers purchasing more and more of these products it doesn’t make sense for the average person to own both devices. People are going to have to choose but either way, the ebook market wins.

Even public libraries have jumped on the digital bandwagon. It’s inevitable that sometime in the near future, people will be more reliant on ebooks than traditional hard copies. Even in the past few weeks, I’ve talked to students deliberating between buying a Kindle or suffering through carrying their books around. And considering Stanford’s efforts to be both green and up-to-date with current technological trends, it’s a wonder of how long it will take our student body to make the conversion. For print texts, with its popularity declining, the end may not be imminent but it’s definitely getting there.

O, and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, if you’re a fan of e-readers here’s a few gift ideas and deals.

GRE: Remixed

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Last quarter my roommate mentioned taking the GRE general test to get it out of the way. She warned me that the test is changing and that rather than be a guinea pig for the new test, it might be a good idea to take it now. We’re both sophomores – I was barely thinking about majors let alone grad school. So I put it off. Until now.

I mean, I’m still not a sophomore taking a GRE. Honestly, I’m not really sure if I want to go to grad school at all (utterly shocking). But after wandering around the web I stumbled upon those changes she mentioned. They’re giving the test a complete overhaul. They’re changing a large portion of the test from antonyms and analogies to reading passages and vocabulary questions. They’re changing the scoring system. And it’s also an hour longer than current GRE tests.

I might not be taking this test but it seems like something people should be warned about. Even though they’re making all these “improvements” I would be a little intimidated to be part of the first round of graduate students being judged on an entirely different test. And while I know people don’t want to add anything else to their plates, considering that GRE scores are good for up to 5 years, it might be a better idea not to wait.

So the only upside at the moment to having to now contemplate taking this standardized test is that Kaplan is allowing owners of e-readers (Nook, Kindle, iPad, Sony eReader) to download 130 of their test prep books for free. Happy studying!