Apple releases interactive textbook service

by JASMINE ELSHAMY Staff Writer

Apple’s new digital textbook service, iBooks 2, was debuted on January 19 at a press event in New York’s Guggenheim Museum. Apple has been working with textbook publishers Pearson PLC, McGraw-Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. These three companies are responsible for 90 percent of textbooks sold in the United States. “We want to reinvent the textbook,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s marketing chief. He complained books are not portable, searchable, “current,” or interactive. Apple will offer textbooks through its online store, beginning with high school textbooks priced as low as $14.99. According to Global Equities Research, iBooks productions cost about 80 percent less than print publication. “Never before have educators been able to offer their full courses in such an innovative way, allowing anyone who’s interested in a particular topic to learn from anywhere in the world, not just the classroom,” said Eddy Cue, an Apple senior vice president. The company is also expanding its iTunesU online university lectures into complete online courses, including syllabi, video lectures, assignments, documents, apps, and message boards. Oxford, Cambridge, Duke, and Yale universities are among those currently developing full courses through iTunesU. “I’m really excited for these new university courses on iBooks. Apple is really revolutionizing technology for education,” says sophomore Grace Jung. Schools have already bought more than 1.5 million iPads for educational use, though according to distributor MBS Direct Digital, only about six percent of textbook sales will be digital in 2012. There are also more than 20,000 educational apps in the App Store. “For now, I prefer the paper textbooks to the online iBooks textbooks simply because it will cost the school the same amount of money or more for the iBooks textbooks. When the school can afford the textbooks, then yes, [the Apple textbooks] would be preferable,” says Spanish teacher Ms. Natasha Carannante iBook Author is a Mac software that allows textbook writers and publishers to create textbooks specifically for the iPad, while iBooks 2 is a sequel to the iBooks app that provides students with textbooks on the iPad. iBooks 2 provides students with new study options such as note-taking. “Today’s students have grown up completely immersed in technology. iPod, iPad, computer — these are the ways they interact with their world. They need a textbook made for the way they learn,” says Apple on their website. The company plans on helping to improve the U.S. education system through their new software. With the iBook technology, students will have a much easier time highlighting text, taking notes, searching for terms, and finding definitions in the glossary. No longer limited to static pictures to illustrate the text, now students can dive into an image with interactive captions, rotate a 3D object, or have the answer spring to life in a chapter review, says Apple. Before his death, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he believed Apple could disrupt the $8 billion-a-year textbook industry. Jobs said in Isaacson’s book, titled simply “Steve Jobs,” that the iPad was the tool to make transformation in the textbook business a reality.

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