Saturday, September 22, 2007

Book Bags and the Sony Reader

I've been meaning to weigh my daughters book bags for a while now. I've got a 16 year old in 11th grade and a 12 year old in 7th grade and each lug a stuffed bag back and forth every day to school. Here's the weigh-in results:

11th grader
Book Bag Weight = 28 lbs
Her Weight = 105 lbs
Book Bag to Weight Ratio (BBWR) = (28 lbs)/(105 lbs) =

7th Grader
Book Bag Weight = 24 lbs
Her Weight = 75 lbs


Book Bag to Weight Ratio (
BBWR) = (24 lbs)/(75 lbs) = .32

So my oldest is lugging a little over one-quarter of her weight around in her book bag and my youngest is lugging almost one-third of her weight!
In addition they are each commonly carrying one or two other books that won't fit in their bags, adding another 5-10 pounds along with a 5-6 pound violin..... imagine if they each played the tuba........

I'm not sure how you feel about this but to me it is unacceptable. We've tried talking each into roller bags but they are not very popular these days in the middle and high schools..... So - what can we do? Get our kids memberships to a local gym in the summer so they can build up their muscles for the school year? Perhaps chiropractor gift certificates for the holidays?

Sony has a better solution that I'm hoping catches on in the academic community. The Sony Reader is one-half inch thick e-book reader that weighs around 8 ounces. It holds about 80 books worth of content and has a rechargeable battery that lasts approximately 7,500 page turns. It has 64MB of internal memory and an additional memory card slot. The screen is very pleasant on the eyes, using a technology called e Ink® from E Ink Corporation. E Ink uses micro-capsules instead of the glowing LCD cells on computer screens that appear as black or white depending on the charge associated with page content. According to Sony:

"The result is a reading experience that’s similar to paper - high contrast, high resolution, viewable in direct sunlight and at a nearly 180-degree angle, and requiring no power to maintain the image."

It also displays Microsoft Word and PDF documents, blogs, newsfeeds, and JPEGs (just black and white) and plays unsecured MP3 and AAC audio files (like Mike Q and my podcasts !) through an external audio jack.

Here's an interesting video from NY1 News on the Sony Reader.

I've spent some time in the Sony Style Store playing with one and an impressed with the contrast - it has a nice text-on-paper feel that I don't get with other readers that use standard computer screens. It's small when compared to academic textbooks at 6.9” by 4.9” with a 6" screen and would probably not work well for textbooks with lots of illustrations - think biology or physics.

In it's current form factor, I think it would have limited use in the classroom but I'd love to give it a try. Sony appears to be directing marketing towards travelers at this time - I've seen a few ads in airports and airline magazines recently. Right now the cost is $279.99 and comes with 100 book's Classics titles.

In addition to Sony, there have been rumors Amazon has their own e-book reader in the works, the result of the purchase of a couple of years ago.

I'd love to see these kinds of products directed towards the academic market so my kids could both lower their BBWR!

Read Show Notes and listen to Mike Q and my latest Podcast titled Micro-blogging linked here.
Podcasts also free on iTunes.

1 comment:

mados123 said...

Excellent observation and BBWR formula! As an Exercise Physiologist who constantly deals with Repetitive Stress Injuries, it is a concern to see these kids bearing unnecessary weight - especially when the technology exists that can relieve them of that. I guess there are copyright issues that would need to be worked out with the publishers first. Also, using an eBook vs. their laptops would limit them to using it for academic purposes rather than getting distracted.