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Apple Nets 350K Textbook Downloads In 3 Days

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the but-what-do-we-leave-on-the-teacher's-desk dept.

Books 376

redletterdave writes "On Jan. 19, Apple introduced iBooks 2, its digital solution to the physical textbook. In the first three days of release, users have downloaded more than 350,000 e-textbooks from the new platform, and more than 90,000 users have downloaded the authoring tool to make those e-textbooks, called iBooks Author. It makes sense that Apple's iBooks 2 platform is taking off in such a short period of time; there is very little merit to the physical textbook, and the education industry has been waiting for a viable solution like this for some time. Physical textbooks lack portability, durability, accessibility, consistent quality, interactivity and searchability, and they're not environmentally friendly."

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Not to mention... (5, Insightful)

bhtooefr (649901) | about 2 years ago | (#38798357)

...that you can resell a physical textbook, sometimes, and that cuts into textbook publisher profits.

Re:Not to mention... (5, Insightful)

twotacocombo (1529393) | about 2 years ago | (#38798455)

Which is why they come out with a 'new' edition every couple of years, rendering the previous editions 'obsolete' and therefore worthless on the secondary market.

Re:Not to mention... (3, Insightful)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about 2 years ago | (#38798527)

Yep, but remember some books like say your biology textbook, benefit greatly from this refresh, but a writing book??? Sounds like a partial racket, confirmed by 1k+ college textbook bills. Irregardless of research, some people are making bank on this.

Re:Not to mention... (5, Funny)

somersault (912633) | about 2 years ago | (#38798679)

Irregardless not of unwhat you maynotbe athinking, tis not unprecisely an acromulent word.

Speaking of not mentioning...oh hell, I will (5, Insightful)

RobinEggs (1453925) | about 2 years ago | (#38798699)

Irregardless isn't a word. Bonus points for using it while complaining about writing textbooks.

Re:Speaking of not mentioning...oh hell, I will (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798937)

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/irregardless

Re:Not to mention... (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | about 2 years ago | (#38798553)

Except when they don't. Some of the books for my IT degree haven't been updated in years and get lousy reviews on places like Amazon. Plus, it's kind of tough to put as much value on textbooks for IT degrees that aren't available digitally.

Re:Not to mention... (2)

twotacocombo (1529393) | about 2 years ago | (#38798867)

I also have an IT degree (shocking here, i know), and I remember in one class we were to get the 6th edition of the book, but someone wound up with a 4th edition. It was almost the exact same book, word for word, except the chapters had been reordered and some of the chapter-end questions were different. It was one of the Server 2003 classes, and this was back in 2009. Not sure how they could justify 6 editions in almost as many years regarding relatively low-level OS operations...

Re:previous editions 'obsolete' (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 2 years ago | (#38798683)

I have a nice little anecdote on that topic.

Being a Version Management fan, I got hold of some Second Edition of a Psych textbook back in the day, when I think the class was up to Fourth Edition. Besides saving the (then cheap!) $90, it in fact was bigger and better! I checked the introductions. Second Edition: "Blah Blah thank you to the 40 people who reviewed this, and my grant". Fourth Edition: "Streamlined with less common content removed for better initial presentation".

Re:Not to mention... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798457)

...and the fact that it is much simpler to modify written material when it exists remotely due to DRM restrictions. With an Apple product that is a proprietary black-box, there is no way to determine that the content is legitimate and will not get updated in the future. All you might be able to do, is have some blind faith in a company's "Don't be Evil" motto, with no accountability or responsibility of theirs if bad things happen to good people. Why not name the iBook, the "Memory Hole"?

Re:Not to mention... (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about 2 years ago | (#38798477)

The only think that the inability to resell might cause is for them to stop rearranging the problems and calling it a new edition, so it will probably still save them money in the long run. They can even sell chapters individually now. Also, many courses require online bullshit these days because professors don't want to grade papers, so the publishers get 70$+ even with a used book.

(As an aside, I would like to note that reselling your books is a scam anyway. The big ad outside of the campus bookstore claims that you can get `up to 30%' back on text books that will be used next year. Though I never sell back my books [just to deprive B&N of the profit], I know that for a 250$ calc book, you will probably only get 40$ for it, and they only give a 15% discount on used books).

Re:Not to mention... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798677)

You sell it to a younger student, silly. You get more than the bookstore will give you, they pay less than the bookstore would charge them, and everyone wins!

Doesn't work so well for freshman classes (since there's no opportunity to meet the incoming freshmen before they buy books), but for everything else. Camp out in the hall outside calc 2 during the last week of classes with a stack of calc 3 texts for sale, and you'll have no trouble moving them all by the end of the week. (Yeah, a stack of them -- basically my whole EE class did this, collecting all the texts we weren't keeping for reference, and drawing lots for the duty of hawking each stack.)

Re:Not to mention... (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | about 2 years ago | (#38798773)

Camp out in the hall outside calc 2 during the last week of classes

Or just list them on Criagslist/whatever social media site you prefer...then you can just meet the person whenever/wherever is convenient and not be forced to sit in a hallway.

Re:Not to mention... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798689)

I used to work for one of the larger textbook reselling companies, and I can tell first hand that this is absolutely correct, they are thieves and conmen (and women) of the highest order, not only that but they engage in rather illegal labor practices.

Re:Not to mention... (2)

eXFeLoN (954179) | about 2 years ago | (#38798931)

But isn't that small amount better than the $0 you get for keeping a crappy book that you most likely will never open again?

Re:Not to mention... (1)

dead_cthulhu (1928542) | about 2 years ago | (#38798667)

I'd have tossed you an insightful point, but I feel like I need to make a small critique here. Yes, drm-laden ebooks can't be resold but as other posters have pointed out, the rapid release of new editions also deeply cuts into the ability to resell. When I was still taking classes, I sucked it up and got the electronic versions of any book that I didn't intend on keeping simply because at half the price I was still coming out ahead. Students are going to vote with their wallets irrespective of publisher profits. In this case it's unfortunately tied to the iPad so I wouldn't benefit even if I was still a student.

Unofficial Source (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798377)

The numbers have been released by a third party. Remember that before you take them for granted and/or bash Apple.

I for one can't imagine what "proprietary methods" are able to estimate download numbers from Apple's servers.

They're also stupidly overpriced (4, Insightful)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 2 years ago | (#38798381)

My systems analysis textbook set me back almost two hundred dollars brand new. My database management book was $120 used. My professor was the author of the latter; he had said he had asked his publisher about eBook editions, and they demurred, because their profits would be cut in half.

The textbook industry needed this swift kick in the nuts to break up the racket.

Re:They're also stupidly overpriced (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about 2 years ago | (#38798599)

Too late to tell you now, but you CAN probably share that analysis textbook w a buddy for 1/2 price. This works because system analysis depends heavily on stats and common sense. At least I remember not having to use mine a whole lot.

Past that, it depends on somebody's learning style as to the value of the textbook.. will I ever use it again? For me the answer is 95% no. The 5% I gave to a friend LOL (asp.net 1.1), they've come out w asp.net 4.0 since then (not all as forward think as you might believe). My point is, in fields that are NOT IT, those textbooks could benefit a lifetime, granted an ebook would do the same, but I don't know, it's just not the same... possibly due to eye strain?

Re:They're also stupidly overpriced (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798871)

Not only that, but you can get together with a buddy and jack each other off. Nothing like a good tug between friends :)

Re:They're also stupidly overpriced (1)

DogDude (805747) | about 2 years ago | (#38798605)

How much are these "iBooks"? Are they cheaper? I can't even check to see what is available without installing iTunes, which is banned from my workplace.

Re:They're also stupidly overpriced (1, Informative)

immaterial (1520413) | about 2 years ago | (#38798891)

Apple set an upper limit of $14.99 for any of the iBooks 2 textbooks. A quick googling would have gotten you that answer within seconds.

Obligatory XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798389)

Your mom... (-1, Troll)

bondsbw (888959) | about 2 years ago | (#38798391)

... nets 350K downloads in 3 days.

... and the EULA for the authoring tool... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798395)

forces you to sell only via the Apple Store. So, Apple will make 30% on every text book sold which is written in their new tool, and likey 30% on every new, yearly addition which changes a picture here or there and yet charges full price (what, you don't think this odious practice from physical books will make it into electronic textbooks?)

Talk about vendor lock-in.

And good luck trying to sell your book at the end of the year back to the Apple Store...

Air heads (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798425)

Only retards deal with, or interact with Apple in any way.
If you own ANY apple products, or otherwise have a business connection to Apple, you're not as smart as you think you are.

Re:... and the EULA for the authoring tool... (3, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | about 2 years ago | (#38798515)

forces you to sell only via the Apple Store. So, Apple will make 30% on every text book sold which is written in their new tool, and likey 30% on every new, yearly addition which changes a picture here or there and yet charges full price (what, you don't think this odious practice from physical books will make it into electronic textbooks?)

Talk about vendor lock-in.

And good luck trying to sell your book at the end of the year back to the Apple Store...

Very little of that is relevant if it reduces the student's final book costs by 70%. I'll happily give Apple their book lock-in all day long if it saves me a few grand on textbooks. Wouldn't you?

(I yanked that 70% out of thin air, someone with better digging skills please dig up some hard numbers for us, but I can't imagine the savings being any LESS than that really, anyone that's had to pay their own college bills knows books are a complete racket)

Re:... and the EULA for the authoring tool... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#38798663)

You say that now. I would be very suspicious of an industry-wide system tied to a single vendor. And I like Apple stuf but the fact that this is going to be an Apple only venue is very disturbing.

"Yes, I've altered the agreement. Pray I don't alter it any further."

Re:... and the EULA for the authoring tool... (4, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | about 2 years ago | (#38798717)

I'll happily give Apple their book lock-in all day long if it saves me a few grand on textbooks. Wouldn't you?

No, I'm not so foolish as to dive head first into brand lock-in. I like having my books exist independent of one company's platform. Platform dependent books, who would have thought such nonsense would ever actually happen?

This is a problem that needs to be solved, but doing it by being stuck forever on one company's platform because they're severely anti-competitive is just stupid.

Re:... and the EULA for the authoring tool... (2)

v1 (525388) | about 2 years ago | (#38798905)

But don't the colleges already have you locked in? "Buy this and this and this for the courses you've signed up for this semester". OK, what are your options? You buy this and this and this. There is no choice other than trying to get your hands on something used. There is no shopping around. At least iBooks is cheaper. It's also a heck of a lot easier to carry to class. And how can you possibly argue with [i]searchable[/i]? There are so many advantages over dead trees it's almost magical.

(and I was just reading a thread earlier where some twit was arguing that you couldn't sell the book back... ok then, so you can rent an iBook for $30 for the semester, or you can BUY the book for $230, and the book store will give you $55 for it at the end of the semester. Oh that's so much better! hope he's not trying for a math major. Back in the 90's I never made it out of the book store any lighter than $400 a semester, even after reselling (essentially giving away) my books)

Re:... and the EULA for the authoring tool... (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#38798957)

Very little of that is relevant if it reduces the student's final book costs by 70%. I'll happily give Apple their book lock-in all day long if it saves me a few grand on textbooks. Wouldn't you?

As a consumer, no. A significant portion of the value of a textbook, to me, is that I can keep it for life and use it as a reference, let other people borrow it, and, heck, pass it on to the next generation. (Certainly, when I was young, I spent a lot of time with my Dad's old text books.)

DRM-free, open-format digital textbooks would be nice to have, but DRM-laden (as I expect most will be), not-quite-standard-format textbooks lose a lot more than 70% of the value of physical textbooks for me.

anyone that's had to pay their own college bills knows books are a complete racket

And a platform-specific format one of whose major selling points to publishers is support for restrictive DRM is going to make this market less of a racket?

Re:... and the EULA for the authoring tool... (2)

ninetyninebottles (2174630) | about 2 years ago | (#38798647)

and the EULA for the authoring tool forces you to sell only via the Apple Store.

True, but we've seen this scene play out before. Apple's tool is only for getting content to sell more iPads, but as soon as there is a serious market, Adobe or someone else will be making tools that will make epub books specifically tailored for the iPad and for the leading Android and the Kindle. While I wish Apple would go with tools that publish to open standards right away I also see they are a business and want to encourage iPad sales, not just tablet sales in general. Now that we have a slick competitor in the authoring space though we should see competition heat up. That is good for everyone.

Talk about vendor lock-in.

Vendor lock in usually refers to paid products. We all expect vendor lock in when we are getting it for free. Is Grooveshark "vendor lock-in" because you can only listen to their music from their website? iBook author is FREE as a way of promoting Apple's service and devices. If they were selling it you might have room for complaint.

And good luck trying to sell your book at the end of the year back to the Apple Store...

With the economy of scale of textbooks, no one should ever have to sell one back. They should be permanent reference materials for the rest of your life. Hell, for a pittance compared to other spending the US or EU could easily fund the creation of hundred of top quality textbooks a year and give them away to the citizenry. That would be a reasonable investment in our future, certainly more so than most of the pork.

The customer is the university..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798419)

....NOT THE STUDENT.
So until the University recommends those e-books, which they won't, it don't mean squat.

Re:The customer is the university..... (3, Insightful)

WCLPeter (202497) | about 2 years ago | (#38798713)

So until the University recommends those e-books, which they won't, it don't mean squat.

It doesn't matter if the University recommends them or not because prior to this announcement if I wanted to learn University Level Physics I had to spend $250 bucks on the textbook, now I can buy a comparable textbook from iBooks for $15.00 and receive information updates for the life of that edition.

Whether its a big deal in schools or not, though I really have a feeling this will be huge in the K-12 market, my desire to learn something isn't tied to expensive textbooks anymore. This is a good thing.

Re:The customer is the university..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798799)

It doesn't matter if the University recommends them or not prior to this announcement if I wanted to learn University Level Physics I had to spend $250 bucks on the textbook, now I can buy a comparable textbook from iBooks for $15.00 and receive information updates for the life of that edition.

Oh, so those ebooks come with free iPad? That's great! And here I thought we'd have to throw away 500-800$ before we could buy any of those $15 books, as they're unavailable on other platforms.

Re:The customer is the university..... (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 2 years ago | (#38798899)

Luckily, it only takes buying 2.1 books before you've paid for your iPad at that rate, and hey, then you've got a really pretty awesome tablet too!

Re:The customer is the university..... (1)

ticker47 (954580) | about 2 years ago | (#38798933)

That's fine if you just want to learn University Physics on your own, but in college the professor will usually assign homework from problems in the book, which a comparable book won't have.

Also, for K-12, although the thought of being able to buy books for $15 sounds great I think the start-up/maint costs will be too much. Hardware will increase every year, and hardware requirements for software will increase to match that. You end up with 4-5 year lifespan before you have to buy new iPads because the old ones aren't compatible with new textbooks/educational software. Plus you add in the IT related costs of having to maintain a fleet of iPads along with replacements for breakage/insurance premiums. Most schools use books for many years before they replace them with newer editions.

I'm not trying to down play the how awesome it would be to go digital with textbooks, I just think with the resiliency of books and the cost of hardware this is not going to be the revolution apple thinks its going to be, right now anyway. (But then again, maybe I'm wrong)

What platform? (5, Insightful)

markdavis (642305) | about 2 years ago | (#38798431)

So how does this "iBooks 2" work on non-iOS devices? Android? Linux? MS-Windows?

I have nothing against digital books, but if they are going to be locked up on a single platform, this is not a good thing (especially for educational uses).

Re:What platform? (1)

twotacocombo (1529393) | about 2 years ago | (#38798475)

I have nothing against digital books, but if they are going to be locked up on a single platform, ...

What, you mean like they were on their previous platform, paper?

Re:What platform? (2)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 2 years ago | (#38798661)

What if your paper textbook could only be carried in a Dawsons Creek Ultra Futura 2000 rucksack, and nothing else? That's what we're talking about here. Want an education? Ipad required...

Apple are a business, and free to build in as much lock-in on their platforms as they please. I am hoping that we will see competing solutions, and open ones would be even better, but with Apple offering authors an easy way to publish with a bigger slice of the profits, I fear we may see the Apple platform established as a de facto standard in education before competing standards have emerged,

Re:What platform? (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 2 years ago | (#38798911)

Your analogy is invalid –my iPad can be carried in many rucksacks ;)

Re:What platform? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798919)

Are you being intentionally dense, or are you just that stupid?

Re:What platform? (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#38798535)

The iBook format is a "modified" version of ePub. I don't know how modified, exactly. Calibre did not seem to have any trouble reading one, once the file extension was changed from ".ibook" to ".epub".

Re:What platform? (3, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | about 2 years ago | (#38798619)

I did a quick search and apparently the iBook format uses a proprietary CSS which makes it not entirely compatible between itself and ePub.

Re:What platform? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798631)

It's modified in that it uses apple-webkit-specific extensions for widgets and effects, rather than something like JavaScript. So if you're using those types of things in your book (and you bet many will; perhaps some will only do so to benefit from the black box effect), you're not going to get them in the conversion to epub so you can enjoy them in "Vladimir's English-Speak 100 Format 0.99 cents eBooks Reader".

Re:What platform? (1, Troll)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 2 years ago | (#38798707)

Calibre did not seem to have any trouble reading one, once the file extension was changed from ".ibook" to ".epub".

You realise this is a DMCA copy protection violation?

Re:What platform? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#38798771)

It is a modified version of ePub ... for now. If it was to remain ePub, they would advertise it as ePub.

Re:What platform? (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 2 years ago | (#38798923)

It is ePub, but using some CSS that isn't in the official ePub spec, so while it's strictly speaking "modified", anything based on an even vaguely recent rendering engine will cope with it quite happily.

Linux (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 2 years ago | (#38798669)

strings filename | less

Re:What platform? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798783)

Fuck your Windows loving ass. Come around when you have enough money to afford a real computer.

Re:What platform? (0)

microbee (682094) | about 2 years ago | (#38798819)

How was this modded "Insightful"?

If Android gang cannoot wrap up their lazy asses and get this done, don't blame Apple on doing this first. I am not an Apple fan but kudos to them for trying to do something new.

Re:What platform? (1)

markdavis (642305) | about 2 years ago | (#38798869)

It was probably modded "Insightful" by people who want to see things like schools and colleges require textbooks in OPEN FORMATS that can be read on any platform.

This has nothing to do with Android or any other "gang" being lazy. Do you think Apple would applaud any "solution" not designed by them that would allow the public to read such books on something not controlled by Apple? Or do you think Apple would *sue* other companies for patent infringement, perhaps DCMA stuff, or whatever else they can come up with?

E-textbooks aren't environmentally friendly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798435)

I don't really think e-textbooks are all that environmentally friendly. The iDevice you have to own to use it (and upgrade every 6 months because they've convinced you their new version is perfect) is full of dangerous, toxic chemicals.

Re:E-textbooks aren't environmentally friendly. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#38798567)

Depends on volume. An iPad (Or comparable tablet) is a lot more polluting than one book, but less than a million books. Somewhere in that range is a number where they are equal, which may or may not be less than the number of books an iPad can replace for a typical student (Including a couple of novels for recreation). Estimating that number is going to be hard though.

Re:E-textbooks aren't environmentally friendly. (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 2 years ago | (#38798645)

Well, they are environmentally friendly as long as you ignore how the devices were produced, where the electricity comes from and the effects of having to replace one when the device finally fails. Not to mention the frequent resale of textbooks and that they don't require any energy to work.

Re:E-textbooks aren't environmentally friendly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798743)

Scenario 1: Student buys 2 iDevices over the course of their 4 year program. Student buys 5 paper books per term.

Scenario 2: Student buys 2 iDevices over the course of their 4 year program. Student buys 5 e-books per term. Student spends more time on their iDevice than they would otherwise.

Every student forced to buy Apple (5, Insightful)

grege1 (1065244) | about 2 years ago | (#38798445)

Great, too bad if you are poor, no more textbooks for you. No iPad no education. There is no merit in this kind of lock in.

Re:Every student forced to buy Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798673)

Agreed. It's also a loss of identity.

Re:Every student forced to buy Apple (0)

KhabaLox (1906148) | about 2 years ago | (#38798975)

Great, too bad if you are poor, no more textbooks for you. No iPad no education.

Given what text books cost, you'd probably only need to see a 5-10% decrease in textbook price to make up the iPad cost. I'm not sure what the level of the text books are that are selling for $15, but if they're college level, then that represents an 80-90% decrease.

The problem comes in public schools. True, this could be a boon to poor school districts, but not if they require a $500 electronic unit for each student. Wear and tear will kill iPads faster than books.

There is no merit in this kind of lock in.

Sure there is. There would be more merit in an open standard, of course. Despite the shilliness of TFA, electronic text books as a concept are better than paper in almost every way, cost being one of the major ones. What Apple's lock in provides is an out of the box stable, secure platform which (presumably) allows people to easily publish their book. How else would one do that, and reach as wide a market, today?

What Apple will be remembered for (0)

Mannfred (2543170) | about 2 years ago | (#38798479)

Here's a prediction.. 20 years from now Apple won't be remembered for the iMacs or iPods, but for successfully revolutionising education as we know it. If $60-$100 textbooks can be acquired for $15 per book for a digital iPad version, it'll be a no-brainer (for whomever is currently paying for the textbooks) to buy an iPad for any education requiring more than 6-12 textbooks.

Re:What Apple will be remembered for (4, Insightful)

toolo (142169) | about 2 years ago | (#38798575)

And what precedent in history have you seen that would make you believe this?

They will still be overpriced, locked into the walled garden and the secondary market will be eradicated. Thinking otherwise is just falling into the trap that has already been laid with other eBooks.

Win for publisher, fail for students. Apple is just a profit machine for content creators and evidently there are a lot of suckers who believe otherwise.

Re:What Apple will be remembered for (1)

hugh nicks (754727) | about 2 years ago | (#38798653)

But what happens when I want to go to school with my Galaxy Tab, and I'm told that I can't get my "digital textbooks" because they're not supported on my device? Now I'm forced to buy another electronic device in order to study, rather than just being able to download (and pay for) said books on my current device. Terrible idea, in my opinion.

Re:What Apple will be remembered for (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798761)

...no. That's never what happens. Textbooks occupy a fairly distinct part of the market. There are no substitutes if your course requires the book, and there are typically not many books with the information you will need (especially as you go on to higher levels of education). Once paper textbooks are gone, the prices will just shoot back up to where they always were, if not higher since you no longer have the option of buying used (or international).

What?! (5, Insightful)

ichthus (72442) | about 2 years ago | (#38798481)

Physical textbooks lack portability, durability, accessibility, consistent quality, interactivity and searchability, and they're not environmentally friendly."

They lack... portability? Ok, if you have to carry 5 of them around, I see your point.
Durability? Like, when I spill coffee on mine? Or, drop it? Or, draw mustaches on the people in it?
Accessibility? .... ok, you win.
Consistent quality? So, you're going to GUARANTEE consistent content quality in eBooks?
And, of course, the ebook argument wins on searchability. But let's face it, an Index/TOC is practically just as good. Unless you're searching for absolutely every occurrence of a specific word, a good index is just as good.

But, are we really going to argue that iPads are more environmentally friendly than text books? That would be an interesting discussion.

Re:What?! (3, Insightful)

Quirkz (1206400) | about 2 years ago | (#38798579)

I was going to say the same thing. They're really stretching with some of those claims, and cleverly neglecting some other aspects, like physical books don't crash or get data corruption, rarely get completely destroyed if you drop them or step on them, and until e-readers get a little more oomph I think traditional books are still easier to flip through rapidly.

Re:What?! (1)

Teun (17872) | about 2 years ago | (#38798637)

Exactly my thoughts, this part of the summary is plain flamebait.

Re:What?! (3, Interesting)

revscat (35618) | about 2 years ago | (#38798837)

Durability? Like, when I spill coffee on mine? Or, drop it? Or, draw mustaches on the people in it?

Anecdotally, I have heard students complain that book publishers have recently introduced a different kind of glue for the books' bindings, one which degrades rather quickly, over a year or so.

A quick search isn't turning up anything about this, but I have heard it enough over the past year or so to give it some credence. Perhaps others on /. who currently are students can share their experiences in this regard.

Oh you think they're not going to find profit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798487)

That's going to end up disappointing you.

There may be some books. But the prices will make you cry. And you'll realize that their expenses were cut far more than any discount they do give you.

Don't expect this to work out for you. That industry is a siphon.

little merit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798489)

I'm sorry, little merit?

- Portability: No need for external power to read a book.
- Accessibility: how many people have an ipad vs people who have books worldwide
- Durability: we can review this point once you change devices and DRM stops you from accessing what you've bought.
- Interactivity: really? reading a fucking book isn't interactive enough?

What about content quality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798517)

Textbooks cost so much because they have thousands of hours of design and proofing behind them. Will e-textbooks with their range of costs have as much quality control? Or will we see the same range of quality as we see in publish-yourself ebooks? "See, Columbus sailed the Nano, Pinto and Santa Mario to find America in 1482. Says so right here in my etextbook I got for 99 cents."

Aaaand the point of textbooks is completely missed (2, Insightful)

Freestyling (997523) | about 2 years ago | (#38798537)

"Physical textbooks lack portability, durability, accessibility, consistent quality, interactivity and searchability, and they're not environmentally friendly."

For me studying physics every day the e-textbook is still years away from being useful. I can agree with the portability argument but thats about it. I can, with a real, physical textbook have the following advantages over an iTextBook however:

- drop a textbook without breaking it, and even if I damage it I can still use it, not wait for my insurer to maybe replace it because the screen shattered

- flick open at the index and quickly find what I want, and flick back and forth between sticky marked pages, and generally navigate a real book a lot faster

- have several books open on my desk at once - rather a necessity for any scientist

- be sure that the textbook I have bought is decent, well edited, well peer reviewed and correct, because it came from an internationally renowned publisher not "#physicsgeek78695#", as Apple seem to want to make the e-textbook market the same as the Android App Store

- keep a real book if I decide to change my computer manufacturer, phone, name, credit card number etc.

- Be sure that my textbook, while murdering some tree somewhere and not being 100% green and hippy, did not cause several factory workers to jump to their deaths, add to the toll of heavy metal pollution in east asian watercourses, or pad the coffers of Apple in preference to the Authors who sweated over the book. Odds are Apple will take a bigger cut than conventional publishers, because brand power means they can.

Just my $0.02

Re:Aaaand the point of textbooks is completely mis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798741)

Plus the pages are often bigger, easier to read and you can have more than ONE textbook open at a time, unless you're going to buy mulitple ipads.

Environmentally friendly? (5, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | about 2 years ago | (#38798545)

Book: Grow tree. Create paper. Use for a hundred years or so. Paper rots. Repeat.

iGadget: Mine toxic heavy metals. Make gadget with slave labor that last for a few years. Burn electricity to use gadget. Throw gadget in landfill when done. Repeat.

I think I'll stick with real books, thanks.

Durability? (1)

DogDude (805747) | about 2 years ago | (#38798589)

I just dropped a real book on the ground. I can still read it. Now, somebody please to that with an iGadget and please tell me what happens...

I beg to differ (1)

jiteo (964572) | about 2 years ago | (#38798595)

Physical textbooks lack:

  • portability - Fair enough
  • durability - No. Show me an iPad that can survive being run over by a car and then getting soaked.
  • accessibility - What does that even mean when you're talking about books?
  • consistent quality - Putting them on iPads isn't going to fix this.
  • interactivity - Fair enough again. But is this needed?
  • and searchability - Ever heard of an index?

What Apple has really done is taken a cornered market (students being forced to buy new editions every year) and changed the entity doing the cornering from something students hate (publishers) to something students blindly adore (Apple).

Re:I beg to differ (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 2 years ago | (#38798983)

No. Show me an iPad that can survive being run over by a car and then getting soaked.

Show me a book that can survive getting soaked. Show me a book that can survive being carried around in a backpack for a couple of years.

What does that even mean when you're talking about books?

When was the last time you heard a paper book reading it's contents to you?

Ever heard of an index?

An index is not the same as the ability to search.

Anyone remember... (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 2 years ago | (#38798601)

...the '1984' Apple commercial [youtube.com]
Now they are going to be telling us what to learn and think.

We were never at war with innovation, we are always at war with innovation.

Coming to you soon on the iBigBrother (with CarrierIQ).

90,000 downloaders does not = 90,000 authors! (3, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#38798607)

If they're anything like me, they downloaded the Author application, played with and saved a test "publication", then tossed the application into the shitcan with all the other applications that save only to proprietary venues/formats.

Author will save only to ".ibook" (a modified version of ".epub"), a crippled .pdf, or .txt (the latter without any graphics, of course). And it will not "publish" to anything but Apple's store for use on iPhones and iPads.

I have no use for such lock-in, proprietary bullshit. I'll publish my work in a .PDF instead. Sure, it will get "illegally shared" some, but as far as I am concerned that is still better than this. And there are ways to help prevent that, too.

Re:90,000 downloaders does not = 90,000 authors! (3, Interesting)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#38798787)

For any publicly funded institution, it should not be legal to lock into a proprietary format and platform where an open one exists. Unfortunately, Apple targets schools with lots of freebies and advertising, so I think the future is looking a little bleak.

Re:90,000 downloaders does not = 90,000 authors! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798927)

Dude, publicly funded institutions have been locking us into Microsoft for the last 20 years. Apple comes out with an innovation people actually want and you complain it's proprietary? Yeah, why don't you get MS Office out of schools first then get back to me on the ibooks.

The summary is a rip off (3, Interesting)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 2 years ago | (#38798613)

I'm a bit of an apple fan boy and am all for promoting them but could you please do better than directly quoting verbatim their own promotional material in the summary?

example:
"...there is very little merit to the physical textbook, and the education industry has been waiting for a viable solution like this for some time. Physical textbooks lack portability, durability, accessibility, consistent quality, interactivity and searchability, and they're not environmentally friendly"

Seriously, go to apples website and watch their promo video (it actually is pretty cool) You will find that the summary was largely directly lifted. Are you trying to use these as your own words? They are not used in the story so...

Not in Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798633)

Seems that Apple is not interested in Canada's money. Shame too, we have lots and like to educate our youth.

Paper Books != Meritless (4, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#38798655)

"there is very little merit to the physical textbook"

...it is impossible to separate a cube into two cubes, or a fourth power into two fourth powers, or in general, any power higher than the second, into two like powers. I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this, which this read-only ebook will not permit me to record.

--Pierre de Fermat

Does anyone have documentation for the used format (1)

TheSunborn (68004) | about 2 years ago | (#38798681)

Does anyone have documentation for the used format? I know it is almost epub/Html5 but exactly what did apple add, and what do they not support yet?

I can't use apples software due to the insane license deal, but would still like to produce books in this format.

 

Middle School (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798723)

But I liked the easy homework assignment of putting a cover on my textbook :-(

How expensive are they? (1)

wanzeo (1800058) | about 2 years ago | (#38798739)

The education industry has certainly NOT been "waiting for a viable solution like this for some time". The students have, and maybe even some sympathetic teachers, but textbooks are outrageously expensive, even the e-book versions, and somebody is profiting off it all.

A solution to the problem of expensive textbooks exists. There is an entire world of public domain textbooks out there, but all of them are useless when the professor tells you to read p.67-123 from the official textbook for a quiz tomorrow.

But I would even argue that textbooks are an outdated mode of communication. We live in a world of instant reference. Have you ever tried to search an e-book using Ctrl-F? It is absolute hell, because you keywords either occur on every other page, or they don't occur at all in the specific string you are using.

I downloaded one of these books (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798755)

And inside of it on one page was a picture of a disk, a back flap, and a scorpion.

The post-Taco decline accelerates (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 2 years ago | (#38798757)

there is very little merit to the physical textbook

So not only is the fanboy drivel not edited out, blatantly moronic statements like this are left in the summary.

Can I resell them? (2)

phalse phace (454635) | about 2 years ago | (#38798769)

What I want to know is if I can resell the digital textbook once I'm done with it like with a paper-based textbook. It's one way to help offset the price of the next textbook I might buy, but knowing Apple probably not.

Re:Can I resell them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798853)

You do not BUY the textbook. You merely license a one time copy of the textbook. Any unauthorized replication is punished, punished severely. Remember what happened when people "shared" a $1 song? Now, this is a $150 textbook we are talking about.

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html [gnu.org]

The "wacko" RMS is more closer to the truth everyday. The only issue is his vision of the future is much closer than he ever imagined.

Re:Can I resell them? (1)

kaizokuace (1082079) | about 2 years ago | (#38798965)

Now, this is a $150 textbook we are talking about.

Don't they cap the text books at $14.99?

Paper books... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798775)

Paper books do not require batteries.

Comparison of Apple books and regular books (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798789)

"Physical textbooks lack portability, durability, accessibility, consistent quality, interactivity and searchability, and they're not environmentally friendly."

Apple textbooks lack portability (can you use them on Android or Windows?), durability (iPads are not drop friendly), accessibility (how many people have iPads? Granted, there are a growing number, but they are usually the elite), environmentally friendly(electronics made of rare metals and other things that are not environmentally friendly. In addition, you have to pick up a new iPad every couple of years because the old one has been made obsolete by Apple.)

As a university professor, I've taken a look (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798803)

It's very attractive in theory, but when I look at the license agreement I'm not sure I can go with it (About iBooks Author->License Agreement). If I use these tools and charge a fee I *have* to distribute the book through Apple. I understand the rationale. Why should the tool be free if I can turn around and distribute it somewhere else? It's only fair for Apple to expect something in return.

On the other hand I'm picturing what would happen if I put a few months work into a text, it becomes popular/useful to others, and then someone asks if other arrangements can be made for distribution (e.g., maybe someone wants to make and sell a regular paper edition). I'm stuck if I ever charged money for it.

Granted, the restriction only exists if you charge a fee. If the text is free "you may distribute the Work by any available means". This part is awesome! Full kudos to Apple for that and for making the agreement relatively simple. But what if I wanted to charge, say, $5 a textbook to help cover costs of its development and maintenance? Nothing substantial, but covering things like hiring a student to do drafting of figures, preparing photos, editing, that sort of thing. This would be publishing on the cheap rather than completely free. Unfortunately once you cross into the "fee" realm at all, you've made a deal for sole distribution with Apple, and it isn't clear whether there is any alternative.

Thus, as much as I like it, I hesitate, because I'm not certain I want to distribute my work for free rather than very cheap compared to the usual textbook. Maybe this is Apple's way to encourage people to write free works. If so, then I applaud their approach. I'm just not sure it is the way I want to go. At least with licenses like the GPL I have the *option* to charge money without having further license complications.

You're probably all thinking I'm a stingy old !#$%!% now :-)

Never had a problem with textbooks... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 2 years ago | (#38798849)

I have to say, I enjoyed the fact that the university I went to had none of these problems because textbooks were included. Before classes started, you went to the bookstore and got all the textbooks you needed for a flat "textbook usage fee" I think it was somewhere around like $15-20 a class. You got the version the professor was using and didn't have to worry about reselling it. About the only drawbacks is you weren't supposed to really deface it (though in reality they really didn't care) and you didn't get to keep the books. However, looking back, I can't say that there was any textbook that would be any too useful if I had it today.

I don't understand why more universities and colleges don't do this. It saves a lot of time and hassle and is much cheaper because the costs of a $100 book are spread across many different departments and years. So books which need updating frequently (law, computers, modern history) could be quickly updated while books which rarely need updating (mathematics, English, some sciences, etc.) weren't which allowed for up to date textbooks when needed.

Why are the prices so high? (1)

roeguard (1113267) | about 2 years ago | (#38798885)

I have been looking forward to going digital with my library for a long time now. I almost went with Kindle, but the cost of buying a another device always held me back. A free app for reading books on a device I already own, and the convenience of the app store to purchase at? YES PLEASE.

Then I saw the prices. Just skimming a couple classics, I was shocked to see the digital sticker prices consistently 30% HIGHER than a physical copy from Amazon. Sometimes it was even higher than the MSRP of the same book (you know, that price you never pay because everything is always on sale?).

I went from being a fanboy who couldn't wait to line up to take it, to a hater in about 5 minutes. Its not the actual sticker price that bothers me. Its the blatant gouging on something that costs less than ever to distribute, and can't be resold or lent out to a friend/family member easily. I'm not paying more something that actually does less, per my own personal usage scenario.

Still a fan of dead tree books (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798981)

It doesn't appear that electronic books will be any cheaper, and even if they are now, it won't be long until they are the same cost. At my school, there are some books available on DVD vs. the textbook, and they are the same cost as the dead tree version.

The other thing I like about dead tree books are that they are (with proper care) guaranteed to last my lifetime. I still have books that I bought 15 or 20 years ago, plus plenty that I bought used that approach 50, 60 or 70 years old. But the lifespan of an electronic gadget, especially when you talk about mass-consumption items (phones, ipads, etc) is probably 5 years or so with the best care. Most won't go that long.

Finally, there's nothing stopping publishing companies from pulling the plug on your e-book a few years after you buy it. "Purchase price gives you access to this title for up to two years. After which, the title expires and you must purchase it again." Think it won't happen?

do() || do_not(); // try()

Prof being forced by my school to eBook only! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38798987)

We're moving to eBook only soon. I'm disgusted and appalled by this decision, but, in these drastic economic times, I'm not about to Don Quixote the administrative staff. My children and I enjoy eating, et al.

One of the concerns that I haven't seen addressed yet is how much these books will cost. One of the lesser, paper-based, textbooks we have sells for $84 on Amazon and $75 for the eBook.

Unless you could only resell the book for $10, this is not a reasonable solution. This, of course, precludes the necessity of buying an iPad ~$400-$600US, right?

Shameful.

Before you know it, they'll tell us the most magical (and only) way to use these great books will be online only to save on "storage" costs or some-such.

Blech

Durability, quality, and the environment (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38799005)

Too lazy to sign up for an account. Posting as AC

"Physical textbooks lack portability, durability, accessibility, consistent quality, interactivity and searchability, and they're not environmentally friendly."

I disagree with at least three of those points:

Durability: Have you tried throwing your e-reader around like a frisbee? I bet you dollars to donuts your paper textbook can survive getting run over by a car better than your iBooks2 can.

Consistent Quality: Are we talking about the medium or the content? Most (hardcover) textbooks I have are printed on quality paper. Maybe the poster is only buying cheap pirated books out of China printed on green bible-like paper (ala the official Chinese translation of Harry Potter I saw in the bookstore the other day) The quality of the content... well that has nothing to do with whether it's electronic does it?

Interactivity and Searchability: I yield half the point. Interactivity, embedded videos, and links to online content is great. But the searchability point.... sure you can't do a keyword search on a paper textbook, but that's not really how people use them. When you're looking something in the text half the time you don't *remember* the keyword to search for. Physical textbooks give you the ability to flip through the pages quickly and scan them visually to find what you need. "Page flipping" on e-books SUCK. Electronic bookmarks are annoying, for the same reason (sometimes you mark a page because there's useful information on several pages near it, but it's less convenient to flip around because... well, page flipping sucks!)

Environmentally Friendly: Really? Trading a renewable resource (paper) for silicon, rare earths and plastics is more environmentally friendly? Sure you can make an argument for the hardware environmental costs being offset by savings in transportation / shipping of the textbooks, but you also have to keep in mind the hardware is NOT THAT DURABLE and will have to be replaced every few years (planned obsolescence!). It's not obvious which side wins out without hard numbers.

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