Apple releases iBooks 2, aims to revolutionize textbook industry
Published: Monday, February 6, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 6, 2012 01:02
They changed the way we listen to music with the iPod; now, Apple is trying to revolutionize the way we read textbooks.
On Jan. 19, Apple released iBooks 2, the ebook app for iPad with the addition of textbooks, and iBooks Author, an app that allows authors and publishers to create their own books. Both apps are free.
Just as it utilized the iTunes platform and the iPod for listening to music, Apple hopes iBooks Author and iBooks 2 for the iPad can change how we read books – especially textbooks.
iBooks Author is an intuitive application that allows users to publish highly-customized books for free. Users can include images, animations, 3D graphics and a variety of other media in the books.
While there are currently fewer than a dozen textbooks available in the iBooks 2 store (and all of them written for high school students), many have already pointed to the potential in utilizing the application for college textbooks.
"There hasn't been an overwhelming desire for ebooks as of yet," said Jason Votruba, manager of the UCCS Bookstore.
As far as providing the ebooks, "it has to be a part of what we offer here," he said.
According to Votruba, the bookstore has sold about 50 ebooks for the Spring semester. It offers ebooks depending on whether the teacher requests the book and the predicted desire of students to have an ebook.
Votruba looks at the potential for digital textbooks, but recognizes some of the barriers. Ebooks are not standardized, with different companies having different formats and rules, including the length of time the textbook can stay on a device, as well as how many pages of the book can be printed off.
When it comes to physical textbooks, "You know what you're going to get," Votruba said.
Many look at a $14.99 textbook on iBooks is a great deal, compared to over $100 for a physical copy. But as Bloomberg recently reported, several factors affect book prices – including growing demand, profit from bookstores, and the use of books over a longer time span.
Not to mention the need for each student to have a $500 iPad if the only version of a textbook is on iBooks.
"The pricing on ebooks may not be as cheap as maybe people think it is," Votruba said. "It all comes down to what you're looking for."
Votruba said that UCCS will stay on top of the trends and will offer more ebooks depending on demand. "If there is a strong push by faculty to want us to carry more ebooks, we can certainly do that as part of our mix here," he said.
With its current selection of textbooks, Apple reportedly sold 350,000 copies in the first three days, according to Global Equities Research.
iBooks Author has been downloaded more than 600,000 times, and iTunes U – another app for Apple products that lets students download audio and video lectures for free – has been downloaded 3 million times.