Putting the “E” into Textbooks
Today, Apple announced a plan to get more digital textbooks into the hands (and backpacks) of school children and teachers. The idea revolves around the revamped iBooks site as a purchasing portal for schools and kids to download the texts they need. At first, iBooks 2 will feature texts from the likes of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill and Pearson, which together sell most of America’s textbooks.
Currently only about 3 percent of textbooks are in e-book format, but that could change quickly as publishers are freed of having to print, warehouse and distribute physical books. According to Apple, these e-texts are expected to cost as little as $15 compared with $100 for the typical full-year textbook.
The big pay-off is that rather than presenting static pages with type and the occasional illustration, an e-book can have video, animation and interactive elements that can take education to a new level. Only time will tell whether e-texts will catch on, but there’s one place where it will help right away. Instead of the typical student lugging a 30-pound backpack full of books, consolidating them into an iPad make a lot of sense.