Apple made it quite clear during it’s Thursday announcement that it wants to do for the textbook industry the same thing it did for music. Turn it into a well-oiled, easy-to-use, profit making machine.
Apple’s Phil Schiller took the stage at New York’s Guggenheim Museum Thursday morning to announce exactly how they plan to do it. Phil started the morning with a few facts about the state of education in America, citing poor graduation rates and consistently dismal performance compared to students from other civilized nations. One of the reasons for this, according to Apple, is that students simply aren’t engaged enough to learn. Students who are used to having a wealth of information at their fingertips via their laptop or smartphone aren’t able to stay engaged when they’re thrust into an environment that typically doesn’t allow either. This is where the iPad comes in. With 1.5 million iPads currently in use in schools and educational settings, it’s clear that the device has something going for it. In an effort to accelerate the iPad’s impact on education, Apple is announcing two huge initiatives. In this post, we’ll give you everything you need to know about the first of those initiatives, iBooks 2. (Update: Here’s our post on the other initiative, an all new iTunes U).
iBooks2 (and iBooks Author)
Textbooks aren’t perfect. They’re expensive, heavy, and easily damaged. You can’t Ctrl-F a textbook, and the information within can only be updated via printing a new version. iBooks 2 promises to change all that by bringing the rich educational content of a textbook into the digital world. Here’s a demo of one of the platform’s Flagship titles, a biology textbook called Life on Earth.
The book is, admittedly, kind of cool. You can swipe between pages (as you would expect), zoom in and out, and do other multi-touchy things. But the best part are the interactive elements–little diagrams or videos that can be pinched up to fullscreen and usually provide animated explanations of the concepts being covered. You can see a few examples of these in the video above. You can also highlight text from the book, and add your own annotations, which are compiled and saved for you to review later. Engadget has also got a pretty good video demo, which you can find here. Textbooks will supposedly sell for $14.99.
Budding textbook authors can opt to give away their creations for free, or sell them for as much as $14.99. Of course, the book must first undergo Apple’s infamous review process. And as with iOS apps, Apple will be keeping 30% of any profits you might make. Oh, and the textbooks are huge. Some are multiple gigabytes. Still, the potential here is huge, and if Apple’s other endeavors are any indicator, we should expect to see a lot out of the iBooks platform in the coming years.
We’ll soon be posting details on Apple’s second education initiative, a revamped iTunesU, so stay tuned! (Update: Here’s that post!)