iBooks 2: Apple To Reinvent ‘Cumbersome’ Textbooks

Apple Inc. said yesterday it was offering software that would reinvent the school textbook. It was a project inspired by Apple’s late co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs.

Having revolutionized phone industry Apple has found one more, almost untouched sphere, to be reinvented: the textbook industry. Photo: Tom Raftery/Flickr

As it was announced in New York City on Thursday, Apple is to provide interactive textbooks for the iPad through a new version of its iBooks app, reports Time’s Techland.

Phil Schiller, Apple’s marketing chief, when announcing the plans: “It’s not hard to see that the textbook is not always the ideal learning tool. It’s a bit cumbersome.”

The first interactive textbooks, from Dorling Kindersley and the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, are already available today.

“The textbook is not always the ideal learning tool,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s marketing chief. “Yet their content is amazing.”

Well, the reinvented textbooks definitely will be cool: they will be provided with videos, photos and interactive graphics, make taking notes a breeze and be easy to navigate.

“The bottom line is immediate feedback,” said Roger Rosner, Apple’s vice president for productivity applications.

Apple’s textbooks are to be more enjoyable and engaging to students than the current dead tree versions.

However, the company has faced one problem: how to actually get their reinvented textbooks into the hands of students.

“There’s a lot that’s talked about that may be wrong with education. One thing we hear louder than all else and where we can help is in student engagement,” said Schiller. “That’s why we get excited when students get their hands on an iPad.”

Unfortunately, the majority of schools can’t allow themselves having up-to-date technology in the classroom. While ed-tech is a booming industry, if you’ve paid any amount of attention to education in the past few years, you’ll recall budgets have been slashed, teachers are losing their jobs and no amount of cookies sold at a bake sale will buy every kid an iPad.

By the way, prices for new iPad models are quite high, starting at $499. However, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, Eddy Cue, said “the iPad is already very, very affordable.”

Apple’s spokesman mentioned that about 1.5 million iPads are used in educational institutions and schools today.  Apple has sold 11.12 million iPads in its quarter ending in September, says the Wall Street Journal.

However, about just 6% of textbook sales will be digital this year, compared with 3% in 2011, revealed textbook distributor MBS Direct Digital. Still, the company suggested the rise to more than 50% by 2020.

The iBooks textbooks are performed only on iPads, while other iBooks are available on iPhones and iPod Touches.

iBooks competitors announced they hope to capture the market by selling titles that can work on more devices.

Today iBooks service holds third place in digital books, following Amazon and Barnes & Noble Inc.’s, which offer apps for a range of devices.

“With the iPad, we’re making textbooks so much more engaging,” promised Roger Rosner, the Apple executive who has led the project.

Moreover, Apple revealed it was expanding iTunes U, a project it has run for colleges several years, to include elementary and high schools. Professors use iTunes U to put their lectures online, reports ABC News.

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