Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Textbook trade-ins + Kindle to add features for vision-impaired

Textbook trade-in is not a Kindle post, but the 2nd and 3rd items are.

Amazon announced Dec 3 their new Textbooks Trade-In program, which allows customers to exchange used textbooks in return for an gift card.  Available year-round, the Textbooks Trade-In program will offer students the ability to trade in textbooks they no longer need for what Amazon describes as a great price, with an easy-to-use interface.  They add that students can avoid long lines at the bookstore and trade in their textbooks from their dorm rooms or from home.

At the text-book trade-in page, linked above, they can search for the books they want to trade, print a pre-paid shippig label and drop the package in the mail.

"Once the book is received and verified by a third-party merchant, an gift card will be deposited into the student’s account ... the gift card can be used toward the purchase of next semester’s books, or the millions of other items on"

The Textbooks store offers "...savings of up to 30% off the list price of more than 100,000 new textbooks and up to 90 percent off the list price of millions [?] of used textbooks."

These are not your usual textbooks, but there are a few that get high ratings.

Also, it appears some McGRAW SAT practice books are rated highly.

MSNBC site's AP piece reports on Amazon's press release announcing they'll be making the Kindle more accessible to vision-impaired users by adding optional audio to its menus and a 7th, much larger font.  (Tweeted by alexebowman.)

  Two colleges not part of its DX pilot-program announced they wouldn't be using the Kindle because blind students cannot use the audio read-to-me feature, as just turning it on requires navigating through screens of text menus.
  Federal monies available to colleges require equal access to educational materials, and there are scanners available for the printed textbooks.

  AP adds "The audible menus would let the Kindle speak menu options out loud. It's also working on an extra-large font for people with impaired vision. The additions should reach the Kindle next summer, Amazon said."

  No one, including National Federation of the Blind, knows enough about how the new features will work (due by summer) to say whether this will fill the bill.

Engadget's Nilay Patel writes Squibble portable Braille interface is clever, beautiful.  Says it "allows users to operate mobile phones and other technology over Bluetooth, using 779 ultrasonic motors to lift illuminated caps against a silicon cover and form Braille letters and other easy-to-understand icons.  There's also audio feedback, and a grip that allows for use without having to set it down flat like other Braille readers"   This is in "advanced" development stage, designer Andrew Mitchell said.

  The story also cites a November '09 article that will be of interest to many with macular degeneration - British surgeons using radiation beams to halt macular degeneration. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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