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E-reader pilot: reading gets an A+ while annotation needs some work

The semester-long e-reader pilot has come to an end, and managers are calling it a success. The goals of the pilot were to assess the impact of the e-reader device on printing, photocopying, and the overall academic experience. The strengths and weaknesses of current e-reader devices in the academic setting were also explored.

The 51 students in the three pilot courses printed almost 50 percent less when compared to print numbers by control groups who did not use e-readers. The e-reader was also found to have a cumulative effect in saving paper when used in multiple courses, as shown by the accidental concentration of e-reader pilot participants in second course.

Most students and faculty surveyed were very pleased with the reading experience offered by the Kindle DX e-reader. The device’s portability and resulting reduction in printing received high marks. The writing tools, however, fell short of expectations. Most suggestions for improving the e-reader device for the academic environment centered on achieving a more natural paper-like user experience and including more attention to annotation tools, pagination, and content organization.

A detailed report on the e-reader pilot project and its results are available online at www.princeton.edu/ereaderpilot.