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Lacking textbooks' color, e-reader Kindle will dull Clearwater lessons

Kindles lack textbooks' color

I love my Kindle, but when I saw the headline, "Textbooks ditched at Clearwater High as students log on to Kindle" (June 2 story), my first reaction was "Great!" Then, I gave it more thought — much more. My current position is that it is a major mistake.

I read books on my Kindle II (the same model selected by Clearwater High) daily. I love it. I read more and enjoy reading more than I did in my 69 ante-Kindle years, but I don't read or study textbooks.

Reading and studying a textbook is far different from reading a book or novel for pleasure. Today's textbooks are fantastic — photographs, charts, graphs and the full spectrum of color. In comparison, our textbooks were boring, with endless pages of print, few photographs and little color.

Today's books are easy to underline (highlight), marginally notate, bookmark, scan and reread. Kindle has attempted to replicate some of these functions, but it's just not as easy with a digital device to perform most of them.

The size of the screen — 6-inch diagonal (3.6 by 4.8 inches) or smaller than a small paperback book — makes it impossible to display most charts, graphs, formulas or other explanatory data easily visible on a printed page.

The E Ink technology used by Kindle makes reading as easy as reading a printed page, unlike reading a back-lit screen like a computer that most people find difficult for lengthy periods of reading. Kindle II boasts about a 16-level grayscale screen. This is an enhancement over the four-level grayscale original Kindle. It is also an evasive way of saying "no color." The technology of E Ink does not yet support color.

My final concern is the digital availability of textbooks. There are many published books I would prefer to read on my Kindle II but they are not presently available. Will textbook publishers make the desired texts available to Kindle? The $70 to $90 textbooks referred to in the St. Petersburg Times article are obviously profitable to the publishers. Will they want to provide the same books at a lower cost?

I applaud Clearwater High principal Keith Mastorides for his high-tech thinking. There are numerous advantages of Kindle over Gutenberg books. After the praise comes the recommendation. Kindle has a better solution. Their newer DX model has a much bigger screen and much more memory. It is offered as the textbook-replacement model. It is also much more expensive.

It is reported that no other high school and no colleges have yet purchased either Kindle II or Kindle DX. Is Clearwater High that advanced in its thinking, or should it wait until the technology and the publishers offer a better solution for better learning?

The purchase of a Kindle II for every Clearwater High student is a big mistake!

John David Heidewald, Clearwater

Re: Paving needed, not patches | story, June 13

Rosery pocked with patches

I can think of another road in need of paving that has also been patched, repatched and patched-up again. The short stretch of Rosery Road between S Fort Harrison Avenue and Missouri Avenue in Largo is and has been in poor condition for years.

Patches are meant to be — or at least they should be — only a temporary fix. It's time for the city of Largo to bite the bullet and pave the way. It's no fun playing "dodge the pothole."

JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater

Shame on you, 'roo decapitator

This is a warning to my neighbors in the area. We have a thief among us! My 3-foot-tall polka-dot kangaroo, that stood at the end of my driveway, someone took its head away. I guess they found out they couldn't take it all away since I had it roped to a plant and had blocks in its base.

So if you happen to see its head someplace, know that it's stolen and was taken from its rightful home. I have had many people stop by while I was working in my garden and tell me how much they admired it.

To the thief, "may you live an interesting life." (And if you think I am wishing you well, rethink this Chinese saying!)

Nancy M. Eggert, Dunedin

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Lacking textbooks' color, e-reader Kindle will dull Clearwater lessons 06/22/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 6:26pm]

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