Apple launches digital textbooks in iBooks 2 for iPad

Classrooms all over the world can now replace their textbooks with digital versions on an iPad.  Apple today announced that they added iBooks textbooks in iBooks 2 for iPad.

Apple is entering the etextbook market with most of the big names.  Three of the four largest textbook publishers, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson are all offering textbooks on the iBookstore.  This will ensure that the iBookstore has a good selection of educational titles for K-12 and college classes.

Apple is also going after independent authors and small publishers.  iBooks Author is a free tool that allows users to create iBooks textbooks and publish them to the iBookstore.  Authors can create interactive digital books with images, videos, audio, and animations.  iBooks Author comes with templates and layouts and an interface that should be easy for almost anyone to use.

It’ll be very interesting to see if Apple entering the market with digital versions will have any impact on the pricing of textbooks.  Academic books are currently selected by faculty or professors but paid for by students.  Print textbooks are incredibly expensive as a result of this dynamic.  If a large number of etextbooks written by independent authors enter the marketplace, it may affect the titles that educators choose.  This could eventually drive textbook prices down.

Another question is whether students will be able to rent etextbooks through Apple.  Classes only last a few months so a rental option makes a lot of sense for academic books.  Amazon currently offers etextbook rentals through its store.

Apple’s entry into the digital textbook market is exciting for education as a whole.  They are changing the way educational materials are being created while offering an easy way for existing publishers to transition to digital textbooks.  What will students do with all the extra space in their backpacks?