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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Chatter: March 11

Textbooks still don’t plug in to classroom

E-readers may have the potential to revolutionize the way students purchase and use textbooks, but the current Kindle model does not meet the needs of Seattle University students.

While the Kindle test program beginning next quarter will provide students with the devices, the cost alone will be a deterrent for students outside the test group, preventing the Kindle from becoming popularized on campus. The largest model, the Kindle DX, was designed to display textbook pages. The price, however, was not designed with students in mind, coming in at $489, with the smaller size designed for leisure reading coming in at a more affordable $259. With the more expensive DX, students would not see savings as quickly and would have to begin using the device early in their academic careers to justify the cost.

Another problem with the devices is that many of the electronic versions of textbooks have page numbers that do not correspond with the print versions. This inconsistency would create more work for professors in classes with a mix of Kindle and print book users. Professors would have to check two sets of numbers when evaluating the accuracy of students’ in-text citations in assignments.

The Kindle also makes it difficult to highlight and make marginal notes. A stylus can be used for underlining, but students must use a keyboard on the device to make notes. The device does not yet offer a feature that would allow students to bookmark these pages with notes.

Additionally, Kindle access is limiting for blind and seeing impaired students or students with certain learning disabilities, as some books’ rights holders make the “”read-to-me”” feature unavailable. Reed College in Portland, Ore. refused to purchase Kindle readers until they are made fully accessible to blind and visually impaired students.

The test class that will introduce Kindles (to colleges) is investing in a technology that appears to either ignore the needs of its target market or is still in the early stages of development.

“”Kindle still a gamble in the classroom,””

The Seattle University Spectator editorial board, March 10

Don’t be such a Barbie girl

Walmart has always been at the forefront of slashing prices and exploiting workers, but in recent news, it was involved in a more peculiar issue. According to an ABC News article, a store in Louisiana decided to discount black Barbie dolls for the sake of selling its spring inventory. The public took it as something different. The issue, which has been circulating the Internet, is that the white Barbie dolls sell for almost double their black counterparts — $3 versus $5.93. And while it may look as if the racial aspect of this is predominant, Walmart claims it was purely a business decision. And after all, why wouldn’t it be?

Despite the unfavorable image most of us have of Walmart, it was making a tactical retail decision. There are plenty of other types of dolls that are aimed to sell to different people. For example, if a little girl had the dream of becoming a ballerina, she would buy the doll that most closely resembles her dream. Basically, the way a doll is dressed and accessorized is just as important as the color of its plastic, or skin. The simple marketing decision to sell black dolls at lower prices was only a response to the fact that the toys were not selling as successfully. The red tags on the black dolls’ boxes meant that they were the same price — up until the decision to discount them, rather than make an innate statement that white is better than black. Any business-minded corporation or individual would resort to discounting the product that is least sellable.

In addition to the marketing aspect, little children do not know any better than the doll they actually like. Their views are not of color or ethnicity — they simply go for the toy they most like. Blaming a child for picking the “”wrong”” color doll would be completely unfounded. Kids will want whatever they want and any question of political or social issues does not reach their brains as they are, after all, still untainted.

It is logical to take the standpoint of racial injustice, but that is simply not the case here. Demand of the customers is the sole driver for this business decision. Any question of inequality has no place in the issue. It is important not to make a big deal out of such situations, because kids are at risk of learning habits from generations involved in racial segregation in the past. Any question of race then should not have even been asked.

“”Simple marketing sets Barbie prices,””

The Rutgers Daily Targum editorial board, March 9

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