Apple announces new iBookstore for textbooks, along with new eBook publishing platform
Tech giant Apple has announced a new publishing platform for textbook makers in an attempt to transform the education industry, with students now able to download cheaper, interactive versions of textbooks directly to the iPad.
The move follows comments by the late Apple founder Steve Jobs that the company was working on a way to reinvent the textbook industry, just as it had done for the music industry a decade earlier.
Overnight, Apple also announced a new platform for individuals and groups to publish eBooks by themselves, along with an expanded version of iTunes U, the educational platform built into iTunes.
In a special announcement in New York, senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller took to the stage to announce "iBooks 2", a new store where students can download cheaper versions of textbooks.
"Education is deep in our DNA, and it has been since the very beginning," he said, commenting that there were already more than 1.5 million iPads and 20,000 specific apps being used for educational purposes.
The first major announcement, iBooks 2, is a publishing platform where textbook makers can put up their books for download. These are heavily interactive, and can implement multimedia and other features, including note-taking.
Many of the books include videos and animations while reading. Vice president of productivity applications Roger Rosner commented that "clearly, no printed book can compete with this".
Annotations is also a major part of the platform, with enables users to write down note cards for revisions, along with the ability for textbooks to come with study materials, such as flash cards.
The textbooks are set to cost around $US14.99 – a deal Apple was able to harness by promising publisher autonomy over prices in exchange for exclusivity. As usual, Apple will take a 30% cut.
The second major announcement was the iBooks author, which will allow individuals and businesses to create their own eBooks, although Apple says it's more for teachers and other educators.
The app is available in the OS X store, and users can create their own books by dropping in pieces of multimedia, including photos and video, and by moving over text to fill in the blanks. You can also use Keynote presentations to add even more interactive features.
Authors can also use HTML to create other widgets, and then publish those books straight to the store, although it remains to be seen whether there will be a strict approval process as per the App Store.
"Authors and publishers of any size can start creating with Apple-designed templates that feature a wide variety of page layouts," the company said. It has also confirmed a price cap of $US14.99 for books on the store.
Finally, the last announcement was an expanded version of the existing iTunes U platform to an iPad app. The new program allows users to download course materials, along with the existing lectures, for a more fully embodied course platform. The new addition is that teachers can set up courses online, and have their students follow all the materials through the app.
If a teacher recommends the student read a book available on the iBookstore, a link takes them there immediately.
Schiller said the message of the whole event was that Apple is now "reinventing the textbook".