In addition, it created an industry for the devices we now call tablets. That’s a lot for any company but now Apple Inc. is set to completely overhauling the textbook industry, as well.
With iBooks 2.0 and iBooks Author, college students can kiss heavy backpacks goodbye, and put super-high textbook bills behind them. In Apple’s educational ecosystem, textbooks will cost $15 and the student will keep the book, once purchased. And since you can decide what books go on your iPad, there is virtually limitless space, and you won’t have to carry around anything else than your iPad.
To me, it sounds like a dream come true. If I was at school and I had an iPad, I could keep all my books on my iPad, read them, make notes, highlight passages, and do almost everything I could do with real books. Sure, I think there’s a certain charm to a real book, but the benefits offered by the digital alternative far outweigh any shortcomings.
Apple has managed to link up with companies that represent around 90% of the U.S. educational textbook market, including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Pearson, and McGraw Hill. When Apple will be offering this in the Middle East, we don’t know yet. Let’s just hope it all works out faster than what it has for iTunes. After all these years we still can’t access movies, music, and TV content in the region.
Personally I think the real genius in all of this is iBooks Author. That’s the free program for Mac OS X with which you create books for iBooks. It looks, feels and works very much like Keynote and Pages, two other Apple programs. That means it’s easy to use and it makes the result look amazing. Compare a presentation created with Keynote with one created with PowerPoint and you know what I mean. I’ve played around with iBooks Author for a bit, and I can see teachers as well as students creating lots of exciting content with this tool.
The announcements made by Apple last week were not as headline grabbing as a new iPhone or iPad would have been. But I suspect that the long-term effects of it are just as profound. There’s also a lot more in Apple’s pipeline, which is something to remember when you read what pundits have to say about the problems and limitations in the first version of this system. Remember how many complaints that were raised about the first iPhone in 2007? Like, no copy and paste, no 3G, etc. Well, look at the recording-breaking sales numbers for iPhone now.
I hope all schools around the UAE will look into the new iBooks and iBooks Author, as this represents one of the greatest advancements in teaching in general, and textbooks in particular, we’ve seen in many years.
Magnus Nystedt, @mnystedt
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