fire_tablet_thumb.jpgAny public libraries planning to lend out those $50 Amazon Fire tablets? School libraries?

I’d love to hear from any that are. Some interesting challenges arise, such as license-related restrictions on use of content. Still, the OverDrive library service works with Kindle books, so some good possibilities remain (even if there are Amazon-related privacy issues).

What’s more, libraries could load up the $50 models with scads of public domain books. And perhaps the Fires could also display informative YouTube videos.

In a LibraryCity post last year, I recommended Amazon’s $99 tablet, still on sale. But with the price drop, the new model looks considerably more enticing, especially with a seven- rather than six-inch screen.

One other positive is that the $50 Fire includes the text to speech that I dearly wish Amazon would restore to E Ink. It offers other accessibility features as well, including the VoiceView screen reader and even support for Braille displays. Nice going, Amazon. I don’t know if my friends at the National Federation for the Blind have tried out the $50 model, but on the surface, at least, this would seem to be progress. Might the $50 Fire be glad tidings for the Amazon officials trying to nail down a textbook contract with the New York City schools (now postponed)? I’m not certain. There are other issues related to Amazon’s use of proprietary formats.

Still unknown, to me at least, is whether the new models will include a decent boldface option to increase perceived contrast between text and background. I don’t think that white-text-against-black is an acceptable substitute.  Kids and the rest of us deserve optimized interfaces.

To share your thoughts with Amazon on accessibility issues, e-mail

Amazon will release the $50 Fire and more expensive new models September 30.

Related: Thoughts from Chris Meadows and Paul St Mackintosh.


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