Well, classes have started and young scholars are scurrying about. Part of their scurrying involves trips to the bookstore to drop cash (or plastic) on textbooks. Like everyone else, I've heard students complaining about the cost and weight of many of their texts; fortunately, they haven't complained outright with regard to my singular required text (all other readings are available free-o-charge digitally).
These laments are part of the reason that I think it's pretty cool that Amazon intends to market a version of its Kindle to colleges and universities. I read about this on TechCrunch...the link is here.
I am sure that opposition to this will take many forms ranging from fear of Amazon's hegemony (because traditional purveyors of textbooks aren't hegemomic in their own right) to "oh my gosh Student Stores has gone/will go out of business!" to complaints that nothing beats the feel and experience of a "real" book. To all of these detractors, I would posit that what matters most is the engagement with the content we call text regardless of its form.
That said, the change in form is pretty impressive and if readers prefer it, good. I'm the last person who'd want bookstores or libraries to disappear, however I don't think they will even if every young scholar has a Kindle in hand. These institutions will endure because, at their heart, they are communities of practice. They'll endure even if the tools that enable that practice change.
What I'd like to focus on with the possible impact of Kindle on college campuses is how user practice and expectation might change. I'm also curious about how access might benefit users of all types and how users might be able to do more with (inter)textuality. In short, I'd like to take the ethics we use to critique Kindle's potential entry and use those ethics to direct Kindle's entry toward the utopias we keep pining for.