Friday, January 20, 2012

Apple Brings Digital Textbooks to the iPad

Apple Computers made many exciting announcements at its Education Event at the Guggenheim Museum yesterday. Perhaps the most important one for students and educators was its announcement that for the “Textbook” category in iBooks 2, the second edition of its popular e-reading app for the iPad (and other iOS devices), Apple will partner with major textbook publishing giants like PearsonMcGraw-Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to make high school textbooks available in a new digital format for $14.99 or less. The price after launch may fluctuate, but it appears that Apple hopes to keep textbook prices in this range.

Not only will textbooks will be more affordable -- making those who paid $200 for their college chemistry textbook wish they’d been born a few years later -- but students will be able to use state-of-the-art interactive features to search through their books, highlight, take notes, and more. There are plans for interactive photo galleries, videos, and 3-D models and diagrams to help elucidate tricky or involved concepts. Learn more about Apple's venture into textbooks here.

A rival company, Chegg, which is already known for its textbook rental business, also made news this month, announcing the release of a new e-reading software designed specifically for digital textbooks.

We will discuss the advent of the age of the digital textbook in much greater detail in this blog in the months to come, as we join our colleagues in education in assessing both the incredible opportunity and potential risk that will come with the implementation of the digital textbook on a large scale. 

--Beth Guadagni, M.A. and Jeremy Koren contributed to this post.

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