By Terence W. Cavanaugh
When comparing e-book read- ers to books, it’s important o remember that a book is
actually its content, not the paper it’s
printed on. The words, structure, and
what you do with a book are what give
This review explores how well the
Amazon Kindle DX functions as a textbook and its fit for what we truly want
students to do with their textbooks.
First and foremost, we want students to take their books with them
and read. Amazon claims that the DX
will hold up to 3,500 books, periodicals, and documents. That is plenty of
room to carry all that I am currently
reading, so I don’t need to leave a
book in my car or at home. As long as
I have the DX, I can take all my books
Although smaller than some textbooks, the 9.7-inch diagonal display is
clear and easy to read. Actually, I feel
that it is easier to read than a paperback, because I am able to adjust the
font size and margin space and even
listen to the device read aloud.
Students should be doing more than
just reading. They should be taking
notes, using the glossary, answering
questions, and, if they own the book,
highlighting sections. The Kindle DX
allows for all that and more.
I played a podcast that I made to
help my students understand and
review a chapter in a textbook I am
using. Here are some other things
you can do with a Kindle DX:
• Look up words with its built-in
dictionary. Readers move the cursor using the joystick to the desired
word, and the definition displays at
the bottom of the screen.
• Look up words online. If the definition is not enough, just push the joystick over and the unit will connect
wirelessly to Google or Wikipedia.
• Visit websites listed in a book.
• Store notes. You can take notes,
highlight text, and add bookmarks.
• Search text. Find all the occurrences
of a term and browse through them.
• Play MP3 files.
activity from a document, it must be in the Kindle proprietary format. Also, the device cannot read textbooks in other formats, such as Microsoft Word (.doc) and ePub, without conversion. As for accessibility, books are easy to
These features allow the student to
not only read the textbook but also
engage in numerous other learning activities when a computer, MP3
player, or paper and pencil are not
available. Students’ notes, bookmarks,
and highlights are available in Kindle’s
My Clippings book, which they can
download to a computer through the
USB port as a clippings.txt file that
contains references to the original
book file. Using the highlighting
option, students could create a
chapter outline, add a few summary notes, and move the
outline version to a word
processor. They then could
convert the file back to a
and review it with their
File format is one limitation. To get the most inter-