Apple's E-Textbooks

Did you know that Apple was now providing e-textbooks … others are also looking at this:

Apple’s latest foray into electronic textbooks and education is causing a lot of excitement in the education world and beyond. Some of this is justified because it promises to lower the cost of e-textbooks, but the vote is still out on the educational benefit of e-textbooks in general, and Apple’s new initiative in particular.

Apple has launched three tools that enable anyone to create and distribute textbooks and university course materials. It works like a publishing system in a box. iBooks Author is a free application to design great-looking interactive textbooks. The iBooks reader lets users download, read and annotate these books, but only on the iPad. And iTunes U, which had been part of iTunes, has grown into a stand-alone application that allows people to download free university-level course packs including video and audio resources.

As always with Apple announcements, there was an almost deafening amount of buzz in the blogosphere and Twitterverse. So much, in fact, that it was easy to overlook the positive response from consumers. Even though Apple’s content partners released only seven textbooks for the launch, one study claims that more than 350,000 copies were downloaded through iBooks in the first three days. That is roughly equivalent to 25 per cent of the students enrolled in grades 9 and 10 in the UK, the target age group for the first set of books.

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