On January 19 Apple announced the release of iBooks 2, including textbooks for the iPad, and the free authoring tool IBook Author. While the learning resource industry sorts out the impact, here are some views from around the web.
- Development Costs: While Peter Kafka, who live blogged the announcement, appreciated the elegance of the sample textbooks presented and the possibilities for creating a new kind of e-book, he also issued cautions about the development price tag: “…someone needs to figure out how to pay for a system where you can build all this new cool digital stuff, while you continue to publish your old paper-and-ink products. After some initial experiments, most magazine guys have retreated to more or less republishing the existing product, with a few bells and whistles.” (“Apple Unveils iPad Textbook Plan,” All Things Considered)
- Time to Market: NPR pondered how Apple plans to get schools to use their new e-books in the short term since many states and districts have long periods for approving and purchasing classroom materials. In addition, the article talks about the high price point for the iPad and questions the overall size of the market. (“Apple Pushes Interactive Textbooks On iPads,” NPR)
- Peer Review: In an interview with eSchool News, Bill Rankin, director of educational innovation at Abilene Christian University (ACU) in Texas, observed that the free authoring tool will change the concept of peer review for textbooks. He says that teachers’ ability to create their own books and easily share them will lead to “crowdsourcing” for feedback, a change from the “elitism” in the current process. (“Apple unveils interactive textbooks, revamped iTunes U,” eSchool News)
- Implementation Strategy: CNET is focused on what Apple did not share at the conference: a detailed strategy to tackle potential roadblocks. While the article asks about the development cost factor, it also has questions about copyright enforcement, content curation, and overall pricing. (“6 things we don’t know about Apple’s e-textbooks strategy,” CNET)
All of these questions, though, don’t lessen what most see as a big step forward for innovation in the education industry. Several publishers, including Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, have already started working with Apple to create textbooks via the new iBooks Author tool.
Read about the features of iBooks 2.