Monday, September 27, 2010

Kindles, iPads, and Nooks, oh my!

We have expanded our offerings of e-readers to include iPads, Nooks,and Kindles. Last year we bought a couple of Kindles and circulated them. Users were able to request titles to be added to the readers and those titles are listed in the OPAC. They proved remarkable popular and circulated pretty continuously, at least until one of them broke. They were particularly popular amongst the college staff who seemed to use them to read popular titles. Our goal was to introduce such readers to our community in an effort to get people thinking about how such devices might be used in the future.

This year we have expanded our offerings with two Kindles, two Nooks, and two iPads. I was lucky enough to take a Nook and an iPad home with me to get a feel for them over the weekend. Personally I prefer the iPad. It is capable of doing far more than simply enabling one to read books and the technology and the software is elegant, although I do find the Apple/Steve Jobs universe a little totalitarian which is ironic is you look back to that iconic ad of 1984.

So first impressions of the Nook and iPad? The Nook is much the same as the Kindle, but the split touch screen is counter intuitive. One is encouraged to touch the screen at the bottom, and so almost invariably you want to touch the screen at the top. I did it, the two teenagers I showed it to (both deep into touch screens at this point in their lives, did it too.The iPad was elegant and functional and just felt good, but not good enough to replace my Android phone. I don't need that large screen enough to lug it around with me.

What I found most interesting was to see my son and his girlfriend begin to use them. I gave both devices to them open to a book but within a few seconds they had left the book behind the and moved to more interactive pursuits. The Nook was used to play sudoku and the iPad to play videos. This confirms my long standing idea that these devices will inevitably have multimedia capabilities and those capabilities will trump simple text.

Here is another aspect of all this. Tomorrow I sit down with a instructional technologist, the director of the Institute for Effective teaching and a professor in Art & Art History to discuss a project to provide pre-loaded e-readers for an archeology field study course.

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