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Apple Unveils Software To Reinvent the Textbook

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the appifying-the-printed-word dept.

Books 416

redletterdave writes "At the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Apple announced on Thursday it would update its iBooks platform to include textbook capabilities and also added a new platform called iBooks Author, which lets anyone easily create and publish their own e-books. Apple's senior VP of marketing, Phil Schiller, introduced iBooks 2, which has a new textbook experience for the iPad. The books themselves display larger images, and searching content is made significantly easier: all users need to do is tap on a word and they are taken straight to an appropriate glossary or index section in the back of the book. Navigating pages and searching is also easy and fluid, and at the end of each chapter is a full review with questions and pictures. If you want the answers to the questions, all you need to do is tap the question to get instant feedback. Apple also launched the iBooks Author app, which lets anyone easily create any kind of textbook and publish it to the iBookstore, and the new iTunes U platform, which helps teachers and students communicate better, and even send each other materials and notes created with iBooks Author. All of the apps are free, and available for any and all students, from K-12 to major universities."

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I was at the announcement (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38748964)

It was a textbook example of a product launch.

Re:I was at the announcement (5, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749332)

While this all sounds good...I dunno if it would have helped me back in school, or even now (although I would try it).

I found back in HS and college...that with dead tree books...I often would do like I did on my notes in a separate note book....I'd scribble notes, and make doodles in the margins.

I found that by doing this...when taking tests, I could close my eyes, and mentally turn the pages of my notes and even my books and 'see' the pages in my head and find the answers.

Even today...while search and all is great with digital media, I find that to actually quickly remember and be able to recall importing things I'm reading...the act of my physically writing down quotes and notes, seems to chisel it in my brain for quick recall later. Just reading and searching on a screen doesn't seem to do it for me as well.

Maybe it is just me tho....

Re:I was at the announcement (5, Insightful)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749398)

You are not alone. People learn and recall information in different ways. That's why there isn't a single solution. A teacher using this technology needs to also require note taking and assignments outside of the iPad-Textbook system to reach everyone.

Re:I was at the announcement (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749568)

You actually read your textbooks? And you admit that?

I'll bet you even stoop so low as to read instruction manuals.

Re:I was at the announcement (2, Insightful)

WilyCoder (736280) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749838)

Hurray for anti-intellectualism!

Re:I was at the announcement (5, Insightful)

jc42 (318812) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749728)

While this all sounds good...I dunno if it would have helped me back in school, or even now (although I would try it). I found back in HS and college...that with dead tree books...I often would do like I did on my notes in a separate note book....I'd scribble notes, and make doodles in the margins.

This is a major problem in other areas beside schools. For example, I've seen a few attempts to provide musicians in bands and orchestras with computerized displays on their stands. This also sounds good at first, and it does give them very quick access to all the music in the system's library. But in the first rehearsal with the electronic gadgets, the musicians quickly discover that they have no practical way to scribble notes on the music. There is no second rehearsal with the electronics; the musicians simply state that they've gone back to paper and won't discuss the topic any more.

Similarly, I've had a "smart phone" since the late 1990s (not unusual for a software developer), and I've tried out all their calendar apps. I continue to buy a new paper pocket calendar every year. Using the phones' input methods are just too clumsy, and they never allow a lot of the things that I scribble on the paper. Of course, this is partly because in last year's pocket calendar, I find entries written in Cyrillic, Hebrew and Chinese characters. You'd think the calendar makers would like to sell to Serbian, Israeli, and Chinese customers, so that shouldn't be a problem, right? Try finding a smart-phone in the US with a calendar app that accepts non-English characters. Even people who speak Spanish or French complain about this.

Paper still has one strong advantage: You can scribble anything you like on it, and it holds the image until you (laboriously ;-) erase it. The tablet makers will have to match this capability if they're serious about replacing paper in a lot of environments.

Actually, I've seen, and occasionally used, some prototype software that let users scribble random junk on a "document". Such things existed back in the 1990s. But they don't seem to be available on commercial products. Or rather, they are available, but the apps only let you scribble on their own "documents", not on the documents used by other apps. If I can't scribble on, say, a PDF or PNG or SVG music score, but only on the scribble app's blank pages, it isn't of much use to me when I'm working on a piece of music.

Re:I was at the announcement (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749392)

THAT was funny !

Clearly you who have mod points don't have a sense of humor as well.

Full coverage with pictures (4, Informative)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38748970)

MacRumors has full live coverage of the event [macrumors.com] with pictures. I couldn't tell if I'm able to just read my damn books on my Mac, though. Hope I don't have to use iBooks Author to do it.

Re:Full coverage with pictures (2)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749002)

From TFA, it sounds like iBooks will be upgraded with textbook capabilities, and iBooks Author will allow you to publish yourself.

Re:Full coverage with pictures (1)

bitterSTAR (1322711) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749060)

iBooks is still an iOS only application; with no Mac version.

Re:Full coverage with pictures (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749374)

Surely this will change - the Kindle app, for example, can handle textbooks and is available on the Mac desktop as well as on iOS.

I get that Apple feels (rightly) this will drive iPad sales, but it wouldn't make much sense to shut out potential customers for the textbooks who don't own an iPad.

Re:Full coverage with pictures (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749626)

Amazon wants to sell books (and some Kindles).

Apple wants to sell iPads (and some books).

Slightly different business model. But yes, I'm confused - one would think that you would be able to read the iBook on a MacBook, but they don't say anything about it. And if Apple doesn't specifically mention something, then I assume that you can't do (easily) do it.

Re:Full coverage with pictures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749110)

I couldn't tell if I'm able to just read my damn books on my Mac, though. Hope I don't have to use iBooks Author to do it.

No, you can't not. Not even with iBooks Author.

Re:Full coverage with pictures (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749194)

MacRumors has full live coverage of the event [macrumors.com] with pictures. I couldn't tell if I'm able to just read my damn books on my Mac, though. Hope I don't have to use iBooks Author to do it.

I forgot to add that I bought a huge box of iTissues to wipe my iDick and iBalls of all my iCum.

Overly Critical Guy

Re:Full coverage with pictures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749252)

I forgot to add that I bought a huge box of iTissues to wipe my iDick and iBalls of all my iCum.

I'm just upset that, since October, I've had to practice necrophilia to satisfy my iLust.

I love you, Steve! If you were alive, I know you'd approve!

Re:Full coverage with pictures (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749726)

Grow up.

Organized trolling campaign by GreatMunzinni (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38748986)

GreatBunzinni [slashdot.org] has been posting anonymous accusations [slashdot.org] listing a whole bunch of Slashdot accounts as being part of a marketing campaign for Microsoft, without any evidence. GreatBunzinni has accidentally outed himself [slashdot.org] as this anonymous poster. Half the accounts he attacks don't even post pro-Microsoft rhetoric. The one thing they appear to have in common is that they have been critical of Google in the past. GreatBunzinni has been using multiple accounts to post these "shill" accusations, such as Galestar [slashdot.org] , NicknameOne [slashdot.org] , and flurp [slashdot.org] .

That's not the problem. The problem is that moderators gave him +5 Informative and are now modding down the accused, even for legitimate posts. Metamoderation is supposed to address this by filtering out the bad moderators, but clearly it's not working.

This "shill" crap that has been flying around lately has to stop. It's restricting a variety of viewpoints from participating on the site and creating an echo chamber.

Re:Organized trolling campaign by GreatMunzinni (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749276)

What, and you now confirm the accusations by trolling here, as AC and off-topic? How stupid can you get?

Hype (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749022)

"Reinvent" is a big word. But the most significant thing I see here is that the tools - including and especially the content development tools - are free (as in beer). But the next question is, what iBook tools will be available on other platforms?

Re:Hype (0, Troll)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749142)

Apparently you missed the memo, whenever Apple enters a market they reinvent it. Doesn't matter if they're just refining what other people have already done.

In this case they're hardly the first to enter the etextbook market. B&N has had etextbooks for a while now. Granted they probably aren't quite as sophisticated, but it's not like Apple is the first to hop on this possible trend.

Re:Hype (5, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749184)

The caveat is that it doesn't matter who is first, or even who comes later. It's who gets the school districts and universities to mandate their platform as the source of all textbooks for all students. They get a guaranteed stream of tax dollars, and long term customers who will be familiar with their platform.

Personally, I would prefer DRM-free PDFs or interactive and cross platform HTML 5 "books" that didn't mandate a platform.

Re:Hype (3, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749308)

Personally, I would prefer DRM-free PDFs or interactive and cross platform HTML 5 "books" that didn't mandate a platform.

PDFs are a terrible medium for ebooks as the format is fixed at publication time. The text can't reflow to fit different sized devices (or windows). If you like text bigger than the average person, and zoom in to get it, then you end up having to scroll back and forth to read lines.

HTML is OK for reflowing text on a page, but pages are set at publishing time, so you end up scrolling up and down a page.

Neither is a good format for ebooks.

ePub, Kindle, iBooks, ... are not PDFs. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749730)

The e-book (ePub, Kindle, iBooks, ...) is not PDF.

The big difference is that PDF is adjusted to fixed paper (letter or A4) and for paper-printing, while the e-book is variable-width-height digital paper and can be word-wrapped to the smaller screen resolution.

JCPM

Re:Hype (5, Informative)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749352)

The ePub format is cross-platform HTML5. The .ibooks files that this tool exports are ePubs with a mime type of "application/x-ibooks+zip".

Re:Hype (5, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749496)

Personally, I would prefer DRM-free PDFs or interactive and cross platform HTML 5 "books" that didn't mandate a platform.

The epub format (which iBooks uses, I'm not sure about iBooks2, we'll have to see) is HTML5.

And trust me, you don't want PDF for e-books. I have a couple PDF books alongside epub e-books on my iPad and gosh does PDF suck. It doesn't re-flow when I change from portrait to landscape, and it doesn't re-scale text, only zooms on a page level.

Re:Hype (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749454)

There were cell phones before the iPhone. The iPhone changed the game. There were MP3 players before the iPod but it changed the game. There were eTextbooks before this maybe it will change the game too......

That is why they call it re-invent.

Re:Hype (3, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749492)

Reinventing a market isn't about who entered it first. Example: iPod.

In fact the term "reinvention" implies that the market already exists.

Re:Hype (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749224)

The tools being available on other platforms doesn't interest me and you won't see Apple go out of their way to build authoring tools on other platforms. To expect them to do so, especially for a free tool, is just crazy. What you should be asking is if the format is open so that books authored on this platform can be read on others and people could make their own tools to create the books on other platforms if they wanted too.

Re:Hype (0)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749408)

But the next question is, what iBook tools will be available on other platforms?

Well, it might not matter, if the format is opened up free to use.....

If so, plenty of other developers for other platforms, could come up with their own book authoring tool...but you will be lagging behind (at least for awhile) Apple since they got it out to market first.

I think it is the format question that is likely the most important one here...will is be open? I thought I'd read it was a new version of epub (3?)....

Next week... (1)

DaFallus (805248) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749792)

Apple reinvents reinvention!

Lame (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749024)

No Wireless. Less Space Than A Nomad. Lame.

Android version? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749050)

I heard the Android version will report your grades back to Google which will then be used for marketing.

Failed Calculus? We're recruiting at Hamburger University

Steve Facepalm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749070)

If steve jobs was alive today, he would be busy doing a facepalm.

Open format? (4, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749086)

If is closed, propietary format then no matter if the app to use them in a specific hardware device is free. Those books (or us) don't have a future.

Re:Open format? (3, Insightful)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749200)

It's not like we need another freaking proprietary book format. Maybe their new format has support for things existing formats don't, but books created in this software should be exportable to other open book formats such as ePub. They're not, this is just Apple trying to control a new market and claim a 43% markup on all digital book sales.

They're a bit late to this game, Amazon is pretty entrenched with Kindles already in most people's hands, and at prices which are far more approachable than iPads. It takes a lot of FREE (beer) books to make up the purchase cost of an iPad, and most books aren't free [beer].

Re:Open format? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749612)

Most textbooks in mathematics are in the $100-$200 or more range. If these were sold $50, it wouldn't take too many to make up the cost of an ipad.

Re:Open format? (5, Informative)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749830)

iBooks 1 uses epub (I just published a book on it, so I know). I've not yet looked at what this new format is, but I've be surprised if it weren't epub as well.

They're a bit late to this game, Amazon is pretty entrenched with Kindles already in most people's hands,

Why does everyone with no clue whine on this article that it's about the iPad? Why do you think this is about the iPad? What makes you think that?

Apple has consistently won markets by thinking bigger than that. They always create nice integrated products, such as the iPod and iTunes - but they have always looked beyond the immediate. The iTunes music store is huge in itself, with or without iPod sales.

Sure, Apple will move more iPads if this gets big. But if the become a major publisher of textbooks, they gain something far beyond more iPad sales - they profit from the textbooks themselves, even if the students use a Kindle to read them.

Re:Open format? (3, Informative)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749202)

It's ePub [wikipedia.org] , the standard format for e-books. In fact, I believe ePub 3 is a subset of HTML5. You can author JavaScript and HTML5 directly for interactivity.

Re:Open format? (1)

EponymousCustard (1442693) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749348)

epub is open but the DRM used in them may not be.

Re:Open format? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749522)

No so fast. I've downloaded iBooks Author, and none of the various save, export or publish commands seems to give an ePub file. I don't know enough about ebook formats to investigate further, so I'll leave it to others to do that.

iBooks were epub format I think, and do iBooks 2 will certainly still support that. But it MIGHT BE a proprietary format for text books.

Re:Open format? (3, Informative)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749574)

.ibook is an ePub file with a custom MIME type.

Re:Open format? (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749676)

iBooks are ePubs but it's hard to see how these demonstrated books aren't supersets of ePub. I'm not sure ePub supports multiple-choice quizzes, Keynote animations or embedding OS X dashboard widgets (they are just javascript, but the dependencies might not align).

Re:Open format? (1)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749524)

I don't see any mention of that on Apple's site that it's ePub. Maybe I missed it, can you give me a link that confirms this?

From what others have been saying, you can export to only one of 3 formats, their proprietary format, PDF (non-interactive, fixed page format, basically not an ebook format at all), and plain text.

Re:Open format? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749652)

it's an epub with a mime type of "application/x-ibooks+zip". try dragging one onto BBEdit, you can see the innards

Re:Open format? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749216)

iOS Apps are a closed format. Doesn't seem to have held them back.

Re:Open format? (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749256)

Yeah, this needs to be non-drm, and an open format. Probably epub 3

You have obviously missed (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749284)

I have read many stories about how Apple has been trying to get local and state governments to buy iPads (at one time the Macbooks) and use them in schools. These new tools simply provide more leverage.

See, Apple knows where the real money is, government. With good marketing, which Apple is king of, you can bet they will get your tax dollars in large amounts to "fix education" and any attempts to deny entry will be branded as racist or worse because they will always point to some little kid and guilt you.

Just like Segway made most of their money off of government agencies Apple is aiming for it too. They have nearly tapped out the tablet market and worse for them, Android tablets are catching up. So they need to get in this market and get there now while they are the hot name on everyone's lips.

So, be prepared over the next year or so where politicians line up to associate their name with Apple ... and the ghost of Steve Jobs

Re:You have obviously missed (1)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749680)

Unfortunately this is a terrible time to be trying to make money off the primary education market (where government money is). Secondary education is great because kids are buying their own equipment, usually financed by their parents, and lots and lots of kids are going to college who have no business doing so. But that's typically private money, not government money.

In primary education, budgets are being cut left and right. Maybe some upper class schools will be providing iPads for their students, or private schools which require this as part of admission. But in typical public schools, the teachers and parents would revolt. You're cutting after school programs, gifted and special education, and cutting teacher heads, but you have money to buy a bunch of GADGETS?!?

iPads for primary education are terrible. They are a distraction for students; you can do too many unrelated activities on them, and are easily destroyed. If a student loses an entire bookbag full of books, the replacement costs are probably less than losing this single fragile high-theft-target device.

Innovation. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749102)

If only we already had tools and technologies for publishing information electronically. And there is no way those things would be able to add interactivity! Can you imagine?

Re:Innovation. (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749174)

Gotta be able to support professors releasing a new, incompatible edition every year so the cattle^W students have to pony up $$$$$ again.
Probably already has re-sale prevention baked in, so we're good on that account.
Apple just wants to snarf up the low hanging fruit by cutting out the publisher. They can be the good guy, cutting prices in half, and still make many $$$$$$.

Re:Innovation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749230)

I guess you didn't quite follow the stuff. The point is that books can be added to and updated and you can get an update. Hence I think this is more of a point that you don't have to fork over additional dough for added 1% content like you're doing right now... We'll have to see how that pans out over time however...

The Web. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749292)

This is maddening. How can it be that nobody is scratching their heads and wondering how this fundamentally differs from browsers and web sites. The whole damn thing is silly.

Re:Innovation. (3, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749714)

Text book updates are free, much as iOS App updates are.

And they are working WITH the publishers, not excluding them. Much as they worked with the record labels rather than trying to exclude them.

Re:Innovation. (4, Informative)

Alan Shutko (5101) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749380)

The innovation is packaging those technologies and making it easy for publishers to use them.

The new ibooks format looks like a ZIP container containing xhtml, images (including jpeg, png and svg), javascript based widgets (created with Dashcode, similar to OS X widgets). I see h.264 movies in there as well. I haven't found the 3d stuff (don't know if there's any 3d in this one). And it's all in a nice package that you can download once and toss on a device.

Unlike Sigil, iBooks Author can embed much more multimedia and appears to make it much easier to build documents. Building the capabilities to do flashcards and interactive review sections into the client app so that lots of books can take advantage of it. Before now, publishers could do this sort of thing in a browser over the internet, or they could write their own mobile app that displayed the content, but they had to build a lot of that infrastructure themselves.

Apple's building on our current technologies and has actually gotten publishers to start using them. I think that's pretty cool.

Pricing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749114)

If Apple starts actually selling electronic textbooks for significantly less than their paper counterparts I'll be impressed. But, if they continue to sell etextbooks for 5% less than the paper version m!m

Re:Pricing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749226)

Part of the announcement included $14.99 high school textbooks, and the (ok, only 7) textbooks shown in the iBooks store are standard high school texts, not independent knock-offs. The chemistry book in particular represents at $100+ savings per book off of the physical copy price.

Re:Pricing (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749236)

Apple doesn't produce text books and they don't decide the price that things get sold at. Just because they provide the store front doesn't mean they get to decide how much apps or books cost.

Re:Pricing (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749550)

Publishers decide on their own price point. But it sounds like Apple have set a maximum price point of $14.99 for high school text books.

Re:Pricing (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749802)

Publishers decide on their own price point. But it sounds like Apple have set a maximum price point of $14.99 for high school text books.

Really?

Wow....I've never heard of High School students having to buy their own text books...?!?!?!

When did the school districts stop providing textbooks to K-12 students?!?

Revolutionary? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749124)

what about sigil, then? WYSIWYG, open source, multiplatform and free ebook creator http://code.google.com/p/sigil/

Re:Revolutionary? (1, Funny)

Stewie241 (1035724) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749402)

It's revolutionary because it is on an iPad.

This is a good concept, but... (5, Insightful)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749134)

I would really hate to see textbooks and other such informational sources be controlled through the iTunes market place. Maybe if the documents were in a DRM free format and available across different platforms but apple is not known for playing nice and sharing its toys to the benefit of anyone but its self.

Re:This is a good concept, but... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749310)

As opposed to the current system which is...a complete scam? Where you have to pay $150 for a new edition of a book that differs from the previous version by 2%?

Re:This is a good concept, but... (1)

B1ackDragon (543470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749378)

I've been starting a textbook project myself recently (it's a lot more work than I first anticipated to flesh out the material and formatting, even with latex, and I haven't even started with the graphic design) so this is quite interesting to me. I saw that ibooks author will export to pdf, my biggest question is: will this be compatible with print-on-demand services? Surely some folks are still going to want dead tree versions, and some topics don't need lots of media interaction. Apple would do very well to consider hosting their own print-on-demand services for this (hmm, sort of like they did with the cards iphone app...)

Another thing I would love to see is some sort of "preview this book" like Amazon's. If Apple is to be believed, this is going to open up book publishing quite a bit, which also means lots of competing books with the standard web-2.0 and appstore quality distribution.

It's all about the Benjamin's (1)

omganton (2554342) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749172)

More education profiteering. Closed format, limit accessibility, isolated platform...

Humanity will never grow as a species until education is free and available to everyone. This is a road leading in the opposite direction.

A solution in search of a problem (3, Insightful)

CaptBubba (696284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749222)

I'm not really sold on the idea that we need interactive textbooks, I've never had a textbook that wasn't very sufficiently searchable using the contents and index, and I don't see how you can keep a straight face and make the argument that a $400+ iPad is more durable than a $30 textbook, especially in a school environment where some textbooks can last for a decade or more.

Apple may want the iPad to be the standard with all their little monopolistic heart, but I just don't see it happening anywhere but in random charter or magnet schools who want to show everyone how hip they are with the new technology.

Re:A solution in search of a problem (5, Informative)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749662)

I'm not really sold on the idea that we need interactive textbooks,

You didn't study anything complicated, then.

For all natural sciences, layered diagrams, 3D models that you can turn and watch from more than one perspective, etc. are godsent. Not because they are shiney and "multimedia", but because they convey more information better. Check out anatomy textbooks and tell me the diagrams wouldn't be 100% improved if they supported just layers.

Re:A solution in search of a problem (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749716)

While this may be true, I don't know that Apple is where the blame needs to be placed. The sheer numbers of students, teachers , and school districts using iPads formally or informally practically begs Apple to take advantage of the situation. If this had been a use case that Apple had expected to be so huge in the first place, I think we would have seen these kinds of tools much earlier. The fact that it's taken this long for Apple to come out with Textbook specific apps makes me think that their sudden popularity in this particular niche caught them as much by surprise as anyone else. They're just being quick to capitalize on the obvious pots of money to be made.

I also think your comparison is a bit unfair. That $400 iPad maybe more expensive than a $30 textbook, but most students above elementary school carry 5-7 textbooks. That brings the costs much closer to inline. Then there are intangibles. You're right that interactivity isn't necessary, but it's nice. There's been increasing concern about the sheer amount of homework that kids are assigned (I don't have a teenager, but after seeing what a few friends kids have to do, it does appear to be a lot more than I ever had to), more interactive book can help focus questions and increase the pace of research. There's been a lot of talk about the weight of books kids carry too, which this could completely eliminate.

In and of themselves I don't know that any of the above is a good reason to switch, but combines they might be. There's also no particular reason that Apple has to be the sole beneficiary here. They're the first to move, but with a little work Barnes and Noble or Amazon could release something similar. Even better, with those two you're not limited to one device. Every major platform has a reader for B&N or Amazon e-books.

Re:A solution in search of a problem (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749748)

I'm not really sold on the idea that we need interactive textbooks, I've never had a textbook that wasn't very sufficiently searchable using the contents and index

I agree, if you only want the one book / document. If you only need to find your way around one book, then I am unconvinced of the value here, since, unless it is a substantial tome, carrying it with you is not a huge chore.

However, I tend to refer to any number of books when writing, and having them all to hand when I want them — in digital form — is very useful indeed. Similarly, being able to have my whole library of research available to me, just a search away, rather than needing to lug around many files and folders is a massive advantage; I can travel and get on with my work without carrying thousands of sheets of paper.

I hurt my back quite badly at law school, carrying reams of paper and books around; I wish I had been able to study then as I do today.

Wrong platform (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749234)

The iPad is the wrong platform for this. Something eink based or possibly Pixel Qi (if you wanted color and animation/video) based would be better.

Re:Wrong platform (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749328)

I don't know; magazines are certainly nice on the iPad (try the New Yorker, it's even better than the print version IMHO). The multimedia aspects of an e-textbook would be great on an ipad.

Re:Wrong platform (2)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749362)

The iPad is the wrong platform for this

I'd have thought that it would depend.

I would much prefer an eInk screen for readability, since the backlit screen of my iPad causes my eyes to feel strained after prolonged reading. However, I also like to mark up and annotate my documents (be they articles, texts or otherwise), and, of all the devices I have tried so far, the iPad offers the best experience for this. I've studied all of my masters degree so far without printing a single page, using my iPad for all the reading, and it seems to have worked out okay — but an eInk screen capable of supporting annotations conveniently would be fantastic. For the moment, though, for me, the iPad is right, simply because it is the least wrong.

Re:Wrong platform (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749818)

If it was solely text, then maybe you'd be right. But adding in images, video, and other interactive content, that means that e-ink is out. Maybe Pixel Qi, but those screens haven't really taken off yet.

Apple strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749254)

Let me guess: Proprietary solution locking out competition and locking in customers. Won't fly...

I'm the target for this, and I won't be using it. (5, Insightful)

sdavid (556770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749312)

As a university professor and a mac user, I'm the obvious target for software like this, and in many respects it looks very attractive. However, I can't, in good conscience, force my students onto a particular platform, and that's what using this for course materials would do. I suppose it would be good if the university required all students to buy and iPad (and that's probably Apple's goal here), but without that it's useless. Proprietary formats like iBooks or the Kindle are out, and I'll continue to distribute materials to my students as pdf files, despite the limitations of that format.

Re:I'm the target for this, and I won't be using i (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749744)

But does it export "standard" epub3 files? Then I presume it's only a matter of time before there are readers on a number of platforms.

I don't see a problem with this arrangement. (1)

gameguy1957 (937850) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749322)

Apple's going to sell a ton of iPads because of this and the book manufacturer's are going to make a lot of money reselling the books each year instead on one large sell to the schools every six or seven years. If each book my kid's books used was available next year I would save enough to buy an iPad each year. I don't see a reason not to like this. I save money to the tune of about $600 a year on books if the school's adapt to it by next year, Apple makes money selling new iPads, and then the book publisher also makes money.

Re:I don't see a problem with this arrangement. (1)

SebaSOFT (859957) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749618)

Are you serious? Can you assure every student in america will carry an iPad just for the sake of this? Can you tell for sure that even rural schools and home schools will have access to iPads and the format will be open and free to lend textbooks to neighbors and relatives without having to lend the entire iPad thing?

A lot of us have step outside our bubbles (including me in some aspects)

Re:I don't see a problem with this arrangement. (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749840)

No. You're trying to say that if every single student doesn't use this, then it's worthless. That assertion is absurd on its face.

No more paper books.... (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749326)

Will make it far easier to manipulate and censor the past, and thus control the future. E-books should be a convenient option to complement existing dead tree versions, not replace them.

Re:No more paper books.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749658)

Oh yea cause God knows history hasn't been rewritten prior to this.

Textbook capabilities? (1)

MisterMidi (1119653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749376)

Will I be able to rip out pages and use them as tinder?

I really don't get the point of this... (0, Redundant)

dell623 (2021586) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749386)

Why exactly do we need iPads in the classroom? What the hell does an iPad do that cheaper full fledged computers haven't been able to do for ages? Why are we spending $500+support etc costs per student to get them iPads? The reason we use notebooks and books in the classroom isn't some luddite obsession, it's because if I had an iPad to play with in class in school, I don't think much learning would have happened.

The iPad is an awful device for reading. It would be greeat fun in a classroom, to hold the iPad and oyurself at just the right angle to avoid all the lights being reflected spectacularly on it - has anyone actually tried to read for long on an iPad? And that lovely blocky low res screen? The iPad doesn't even offer a quarter of the resolution of a real book, and about a quarter of the amount of material visible on a large textbook open with two pages visible. Who in their sane mind is going to replace that with a crummy highly reflective low resolution tiny 10 inch screen that you pay half a grand for?

you want textbooks, make a better Kindle DX and give that to the kids. No touchscreen. Lets you read books and carry thousands of books around. The browser is ok for wikipedia etc, not so good for Facebook. That has some potential of being a textbook platform. but an iPad, seriously?

I am not arguing it won't be successful, because wonderfully the people who decide on technology matters for schools have no clue what they are doing, they'll swallow the buzzword talk easily. And come on, it's Apple and we all know Apple can do no wrong.

Re:I really don't get the point of this... (0)

dell623 (2021586) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749502)

The $500+ pays for the iPad, not for content. It is just the material cost. How many books in high resolution full colour can you print for that much money - just the printing cost, not content cost? Quite a lot I would imagine.

Apple has officially gone stupid, it's now a yuppie brand, selling overpriced sleekness that does things computers did ten years ago, but now slower and lower quality.

Re:I really don't get the point of this... (5, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749610)

What the hell does an iPad do that cheaper full fledged computers haven't been able to do for ages?

It can sit on your desk alongside your books, papers, pencils and not take up all the space. You can carry it around, and it has a great form-factor for using it as a tool.

Typical geek error: You think this is about technological capabilities, specs - it isn't. It is about design, about integration into the workflow, about everything around the device as much as the device itself.

if I had an iPad to play with in class in school, I don't think much learning would have happened.

That absolutely is the #1 argument against an iPad or any other multi-purpose electronic gadget. Then again, if pupils want to play, they will. Back in my days, we played on paper. Worked, too.

And come on, it's Apple and we all know Apple can do no wrong.

They've done plenty of wrong. The reason you don't hear much about it is that unlike MS they don't keep their mistakes around for ages, spending billions on them until either they are so dead that they have to bury them because they start to smell (Zune), or the sheer amount of money and exclusivity-deals and other niceties that money can buy make it into a viable thing (xbox).

Apple buries its mistakes and moves on. Doesn't mean they don't make plenty of mistakes.

Re:I really don't get the point of this... (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749678)

I love how the iPad haters sound just like the Republicans. Make up things to reinforce their point of view.

The ipad does not have a very small viewing angle, get over that blatent lie. yes it's a shiny surface, so is most laptops and other color e-readers. where it has a REAL failure is you can not read on one in direct sunlight. this is because of a poor choice of LCD. A trans reflective LCD solves this. MY Fujitsu tablet has one and the screen is better outside (and still shiny) Blocky low res?? have you ever touched an ipad?

the ipad is a AWESOME device or textbooks, reading about dinosaurs and having animations or being able to have interactive parts is incredibly cool. Every classroom I see them using the ipad the kids are enthralled and are learning at a far faster rate. Yes there are schools with them in the classrooms now, My company installed 2900 of them to a regular old school district last year. The teacher can broadcast to the proejctor or 55" lcd in the room via a apple TV and airplay so the kids can all see what she is doing or talking about. They are wonderful devices for this.

Finally test taking ON the ipad rocks. and they are durable as hell in the right case. I watched a 6 year old ADHD brat throw one to the ground and jump up and down on it. On the SCREEN, not the back. no damage in that special case they bought for the kids ipads to go into.

The problem is people are making up reasons to NOT use them simply because they are incapable of reasoning why they do work. It's the grumpy old man syndrome and you have it pretty bad.

The kindle is a failure at text books for 2 reasons. 1 - too damn small. Sorry but only the Kindle DX is big enough for textbooks, and those are as much as an ipad. 2 - no software for education, no interactive books, no way to show it's screen on a larger screen for sharing. Kindle = fail in K-12.

And this is a good idea? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749442)

Do we really want Apple adding 30% to the cost of text books.
Apple makes great stuff, it will only cost you your soul. Walk into any Apple church... I mean store. It is hard to tell the difference with all the frothing fanatics telling me to use apple products or die.

But by all means continue to follow the herd... Mooooo :-)

mac? WTFWTFWTFWTFWTFWTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749478)

YET AGAIN mac is trying to hold your hand and baby through the harsh technical world

Have they ever written a textbook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749488)

A decent textbook is not just a bunch of stuff tacked together. There's lots of stuff on the web; lecture notes, videos, Khan Academy, courses. There are not many (speaking in relative terms) free textbooks (if you don't count illegal downloads). Creating one is harder than it looks.

Kinda, but its locked to iBooks... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749504)

Libre office with the "writer2epub" extension does the exact same thing, except for loading it on the sellers website.

Now if they made it export to ANY ebook format, then I'll take more notice.

Future /. Headline: (0)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749506)

Apple Applies for Patent on the Written Word; Cites iBook Author as 'Prior Art'.

Joke, or premonition? You decide.

Hoping it converts easily to .pdf too (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749556)

Perhaps it is just me, but I'd far prefer that my digital documents were in PDF than in ePub. I'm coming to the end of a two year masters degree, where all materials were electronic; lectures were podcasts, and all the reading is delivered by download.

Whatever format the literature came in, though — and no matter where else I sourced my reading — my first step was (and is) to convert the document to PDF, since I find these easiest to manipulate across platform. With a PDF, I can annotate and mark up on my iPad, sync back to the server, and then access from my computer, complete with annotations. I can share my documents — with annotations — with fellow students, with a fair chance that they will be able to open them without needing extra software; I'm not so sure about this with ePub.

Digital School (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749562)

I'm all for teaching children new skills, but I'm afraid our society (United States) is going about it all wrong. When I was in school, we were at least taught research skills a little. Now my child comes home from elementary school and says she has to look stuff up on the internet. But she doesn't have a clue how to do actual research. I have to show her most of it, and monitor what she is looking at while doing it. It's more homework for me, than for her.

We didn't have the internet when I was in school, now get off my lawn Apple, and teach the kids how to think.

Kindle could be kicken off by iBook. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749604)

The e-book iBook of Apple maybe "torturing" the e-book Kindle of Amazon.

JCPM

Kills the used books market (5, Insightful)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749624)

Publishers and authors of textbooks hate used books because they don't get any additional revenue. Which is why you'll see your standard freshman class books change every other year. How does Calc 101 change every year? The author changes one example replacing X with Y, and then can rev the book and get another $45 in revenue.

With an eBook with DRM, they'll make it so while the book might not cost $45, every student will be forced to buy it 'new' every year.

Re:Kills the used books market (1, Insightful)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749694)

With an eBook with DRM, they'll make it so while the book might not cost $45, every student will be forced to buy it 'new' every year.

Or else you could pay once, and always have the latest version on release, since the incremental costs are much lower in redistributing an updated electronic copy than shipping updated editions of physical books.

I'd certainly be willing to pay more up front if I could have each updated version as it became available, perhaps a small "upgrade" fee for major revisions, just as with the software world. By increasing the ease of digital publishing, I would have thought we would see an increase in innovative models and approaches — the control of the current publishing industry is diminished.

Is this just to annoy creationists? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38749692)

Surely they're not evolved enough to inspect an iPad for iBooks containing contraband evolutionary theory? Bet the creationist and religious nutjob school boards will love trying to burn stacks of iPads. While protesting students tear off their faux-suede iPad covers and burn them in an incendiary counter-insurgent move.

It could all get rather fun! Yes, there is a serious point about censoring digital books, but I prefer the fun angle.
Full story: http://www.cmswire.com/cms/mobile/apple-announces-ibooks-2-and-ibooks-author-at-new-york-event-014164.php

Finally, a polished ePub-creation tool... for some (2)

guttentag (313541) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749704)

I've been looking for a good way to create ePub files for my iPad for some time now. I use a number of different reference materials I've created for myself and others in environments where you're simply not going to have Internet access, and the iPad has been an ideal tool for this. The iBooks Author app [apple.com] is free, looks well-polished (like Pages and Keynote) and seems interesting with its promises of easily-implemented interactivity. I'm a little concerned about how the HTML widgets will be used... the idea of having content in a book that's always up to date is intriguing... but if you are somewhere you don't have Internet access will it display the last version seen or a 404 Not Found error message?

The app is available now on the Mac App Store, but it's worth noting that it's only available for the Mac and only runs on OS X Lion.

Continuing Education market success (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | more than 2 years ago | (#38749742)

Regardless of how well it does in the general education realm, this will be a hit with all those professions that require continuing education credits to maintain your license. My spouse already has to order CD's/DVD's of medical education material from such publishers and many times they will give you an iPad if your order is over $1000. I can see this being a big hit since tablets (iPads) have a huge install base now (30+ million last year, projected 48+ million this year).
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