Will Apple's iBook Store and TextBook Plan Work?

Written by  Ravi Vadugu | 19 January 2012
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iBooksApple today has announced launch of iBooks 2, Textbook and iBook Author apps a combination of which will enable you not just design and create your own books but also share them with your community and what more store them in iBook store. While i can understand the interest from community to publish their own books and maintain stores what surprises me is to target high schools and textbooks. Schools buy the books and reuse them year on year. Is this literally possible with iBooks or may be the expectation is schools to buy iPads for all students. 

Whats Launched 

IBooks 2, Textbooks and iBook Author

iBooks 2 is the next-generation content store for e-books, and is available today. These educational, student-oriented e-books will appear in the iBooks 2 under the new heading: Textbooks. This section of the iBookstore will include high school-level books, and more in due time, priced at $14.99 or less.

Apple is working with publishers and partners, including Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to enabled cheaper, more accessible e-book content. Books will always remain up to date, including revised copies. Students will also keep their copies forever. The TextBook experience provides a full-screen experience full of interactive diagrams, photos, and videos. No longer limited to static pictures to illustrate the text, now students can dive into an image with interactive captions, rotate a 3D object, or have the answer spring to life in a chapter review. They can flip through a book by simply sliding a finger along the bottom of the screen. Highlighting text, taking notes, searching for content, and finding definitions in the glossary are just as easy. And with all their books on a single iPad, students will have no problem carrying them wherever they go.

On the other hand the iBook Author app allows anyone to create beautiful Multi-Touch textbooks and just about any other kind of book for iPad. With galleries, video, interactive diagrams, 3D objects, and more, these books bring content to life in ways the printed page never could.

The Question Of Will It Work?

The very issue that all the apps launched are tied down to iPAD and within apple's ecosystem may go against the very concept and provide room for others to catch up and launch similar apps that runs on all platforms. While this also aims a start of competition with Kindle which allows users on most of the platforms to be able to use the app, still retaining the app to its own ecosystem. It definitely will be a uphill battle for a direct competition for apple given the fact that the user-base that Amazon would have using its app running on multiple platforms will be far highter compared to Apple.

Albert Greco, a professor of marketing at Fordham University in New York and a former high-school principal, said schools would need to buy iPads for its students if it were to replace printed books. 
It wouldn't work to let students who can afford to buy their own iPads use them in class with textbooks they buy themselves, alongside poorer students with printed books.

"The digital divide issue could be very embarrassing. Because if you don't have the iPad, you can't do the quiz, you don't get instant feedback ... that is an invitation for a lawsuit," Greco said. "I would be shocked if any principal or superintendent would let that system go forward."

Greco said hardback high-school textbooks cost an average of about $105, and a freshman might need five of them. However, they last for five years. That means that even if an iPad were to last for five years in the hands of students, the e-books plus the iPad would cost more than the hardback textbooks.

Having said that we have seen that the products that apple launch usually it takes a while (almost years) for others to catch up due to the huge focus and research on user experience that it offers in awe of which most of us tend to ignore the competitors. Such may have been the confidence of the industry leader and rightly so. Pricing will also have a say on wheather the app will be purchased or not and shall have to wait and see how schools and students at large will reach to this in next few months since not all can afford an iPAD for the sake of iBook. 

Ravi Vadugu

Ravi Vadugu

An IT professional with over 12 years of experience. Project management is what i do. Curious/Interested in upcoming technologies, trends, software methodologies(e.g. Agile) and software tools. Love sharing knowledge with rest of the community.

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