Kindles may soon be sporting some new features that address short-comings raised by the higher education market. According to Amazon's recent posting on the Kindle Daily Post blog, software updates for the Kindle and Kindle 3G will enable e-books to display page numbers that correspond to the same pages in the print edition of the book.
That may seem like a relatively minor improvement to some, but higher-ed researchers need to be able to provide publication pages when they cite sources for a paper or book. Right now they can’t do that with an e-book.
Even more importantly, the page numbering feature may make the Kindle more attractive for classroom use. Some college bookstores have reported their professors asked them not to make e-books available for their textbook adoptions because the lack of page numbers creates problems in making sure the class is literally on the same page. With the updated Kindle, students could use either print or e-book versions and remain in sync, page-wise.
As another new feature, the Kindle upgrade will also allow users to share their book annotations and highlights with other Kindle users.
I once read that page numbers did not emerge as a concept in printed books until about 40 years after the printing press had become commercially viable. At the time, it was the scholarly community who identified the need. While Amazon's page numbering development has already been accomplished by others in the space, the development does signal two things. First, that we will continue to adapt current and new technologies to past ways of doing things. Perhaps there is a better way to cite a reference than the print-page equivalent. Second, it seems that Amazon is working to address short-comings in the Kindle identified by the higher ed market, and so they may still have plans in the work for a new reader or other technology that will support textbook users in the future.