Apple Diving into Digital Textbooks with iBooks 2
Imagine a world where college students can go from class to class without a weighed-down backpack strapped to their shoulders, opting instead to carry nothing more than a pencil, spiral notebook and tablet computer. If the growing trend in the publishing industry continues, this may soon become a reality. This year, many textbook publishers who have been dragging their feet about going digital are taking the plunge.
iBooks 2 : Apple leads the way
Ever the innovator in the field of digital media, Apple is leading the way in making textbooks a digital phenomenon. On January 19, the technology giant held an event at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, introduced iBooks 2, the latest innovative app for the iPad. The iBooks 2 app takes traditional textbooks and digitizes them, making them interactive.
With the app, students can highlight their texts with the touch of a finger, store important sections in iCloud, and easily navigate between the text and a glossary. Apple intends to make the books on the iPad permanent purchases, rather than textbook rentals, so students can easily turn to them as references long after they finish a class.
Apple is looking beyond the college classroom with this latest development. In addition to seeking college textbook publishers, the technology giant is looking to introduce digital texts in high school and elementary classrooms. Apple executives are in discussions with Pearson, McGraw Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the primary publishers of elementary and high school textbooks. Should this be successful, the face of education as it is known today will soon change.
Other companies following suit
Apple is not the only tablet manufacturer pushing for digitized textbooks. The New York Times recently reported that Amazon is also venturing into the textbook world with its Kindle. Unlike Apple, however, Amazon is looking into rented books, rather than permanent purchases. While the cost will be lower for students, rentals could eliminate the option to use the text as a reference after the course is completed.
Video gaming systems entering the mix
Tablet computers are not the only devices embracing the digital textbook. Nintendo recently announced an eBook download service through the new Wii U console. Wii U owners will be able to download books and read them on the 6.2-inch screen with the same ease as with a digital e-reader. Should textbook publishers partner with Nintendo to offer their texts through this download service, college students can actually mix homework with gaming time!
Potential benefits for students
The rising cost of printed textbooks makes it difficult for cash-strapped college students to afford the books they need for their classes. The option to purchase digital forms of these texts will greatly lower the costs. For students already balancing the high cost of education, this is welcome news.
In addition, digital texts cannot be back-ordered or sold out. If a student needs the book, it is available as an instant download through iBooks 2 or a similar e-reader program. Students do not have to wait for their texts to arrive in the mail or stand in long lines at the campus bookstore.
For today’s college student, technology is paramount to learning. Innovations like online classes, virtual professors and now electronic textbooks make education more attainable for more of the population. Through Apple’s iBooks 2 and similar advancements, the classroom of tomorrow is going to be very high tech.