College students could soon be able to ditch their backpacks and put their textbooks into their shirt pockets thanks to a new program that will let them read their books using iPhones or iPod Touch devices.
CourseSmart of San Mateo, California, already makes more than 7000 college textbooks from 12 publishers available to its subscribers online via their computers, but now the company has added "eTextbooks for the iPhone," allowing students to free themselves from even having to lug around their heavy laptop computers.
The app itself is free from Apple's App Store; and it appears that most of the textbooks CourseSmart sells in digital form cost about 60 to 75 percent of the price of their dead tree versions.
This is a cool idea in general, and I can certainly see the benefits -- textbooks sure have gotten bigger and heavier over the years and carrying them around all over your campus is not fun at all -- but miniaturizing your textbooks and being able to take them anywhere also could introduce some problems.[snip].
What about incoming text messages while you are reading your books on your iPhone? Now, that would be distracting because they'd be hard to avoid. At least if you are not using your iPhone as an e-book reader, then you can tuck it away or turn it off so you're not distracted while reading. This would be a new challenge for students.
OK, maybe I'm being too practical or cautious. Maybe this is the coolest thing since the Student Union on Friday nights, but I'm not yet ready to jump on this bandwagon.