Saturday, August 21, 2010

Top Medical Titles On The Amazon Kindle

The last few posts have covered the various advantages of the Kindle (Should iPads Be Mandatory?, The $99 Kindle), but as we all know: content is king. So, you may be rightly asking yourself, what titles can I find on the Kindle?

Here are some key medical textbooks / titles already available on the Kindle specifically for the USMLE exams:

Additionally, there are many general medical books / medical titles available as well, including journals:

Poke around the Kindle Store and you'll be amazed at what you can find. The medical section is surprisingly more complete than one might expect. Have fun Kindling!

Updated 2015-12-20

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The $99 Kindle or the Medical Kindle?

The market for e-readers is evolving rapidly. Our last post discussed the iPad vs. the Kindle for medical trainees. However, a recent article in Slate argues that the price for the Kindle will soon fall to less than $100:
All of these trends likely guarantee that Amazon will release a $99 e-reader someday. But why do I think it will do so before the end of the year? If the company is already selling out of its inventory at its current prices, what's the point of making the Kindle even cheaper? The quick answer is that tech companies usually ramp up production and lower their prices for the holidays. Last October, Amazon cut the price of the Kindle from $299 to $259. The day after Christmas, it reported that the Kindle was the "most-gifted" item in the company's history. Even so, the Kindle never ran out of stock in December (as it had in 2008). If it lowers the price this October, you can be sure Amazon will make enough to satisfy the demand.

And at $99, demand will be unbelievable. Last year a Forrester Research survey found that fewer than 20 percent of "U.S. adults online" would consider buying a reader priced at more than $100. When asked about a reader priced under $100, however, nearly 65 percent said they would consider one, and almost 40 percent said they'd buy it within six months. In other words, $99 is a magic price—the threshold where a huge number of customers who are on the fence about e-readers decide to jump in.
Clearly, there are going to be big changes in the Kindle / iPad worlds very soon. And, if the price suits you, go for it.

However, this evolution opens up the possibly of a two-tiered system: a general ebook reader priced under $100, and then special edition customized ebook readers aimed at niche segments, such as the medical market. Imagine a special Medical Kindle, utilizing Amazon's Digital Ink technology, but in *color*, allowing medical students to have the benefit of crisp text of the current Kindles with the full blown color of the iPad. Color is the next big 'killer app' on the kindle, and with a two tier system, Amazon could justify such a move. Here's hoping the race to the bottom for the $99 Kindle opens up room at the top.

Update: It happened:

Updated 2015-12-20

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Should iPads Be Mandatory For Medical Students?

The e-reader battles are clearly heating up, with the recent introduction of the Apple iPad (color!), the aggressive marketing of the Kindle with newer models, and the Nook trying to sneak its way into the conversation. What does this mean for medical students? Should iPads be mandatory in medical school?

Joseph Kim of Mobile Health Computing argues that it certainly should be, but I think the argument is not well formed. Of course we want medical students to have the latest whizbang technological gadgetry, but the real question is: what role will this technology play? For example, we could provide all medical students with electron microscopes during their study of histology, but clearly this would be ridiculous: the knowledge yield would not justify the cost at all.

So, let's consider what we want our ereaders to do. Clearly, Kim wants a Swiss Army Knife type tool - a tool that lets students become fully engrossed with their study materials, interacting in a way that was never possible before. One can easily imagine an iPad with a digital cadaver, first years carefully "finger dissecting" away layers to reveal deeper structures, or sweeping their fingers to rotate and pan the images to see other angles. Because its digital, such anatomy could much more easily linked to its practical application in medicine via linked diagnostic images, intraoperative findings, and even path results.

But, is this what we really want? Or rather, is it the only thing we want? Clearly, even with all this neato technology, there is an ocean of information to absorb and comprehend in a limited amount of time. Sorry, first years, but you will still have to spend hours in the library pouring over textbooks. This is where the argument gets a bit murkier, primarily because of technological issues. The iPad is backlight; the Kindle is not. For medical students spending hours staring at text, the Kindle actually provides a much better user experience. And, imagine being able to carry the entire library in this one lightweight device! Yes, the iPad can do it too, but do you really want to read an iPad for that many hours?

The question of whether devices should be 'required' of medical students is not a new one. Ever since portable devices became popular, medical schools have struggled with whether to mandate that their students have a laptop, or PDA, or now, e-reader. Until technology advances far enough that we can have all the functions we desire in one device with a user interface we like, medical schools may be better off simply supporting the purchasing choices of their students without mandating any particular device. Let students choose how they like to learn, and what tools they want to use to accomplish that, and they will be the better for it.

Updated 2015-12-20


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