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Apple reveals iBooks 2, iBooks Author at NYC education event


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Apple reveals iBooks 2, iBooks Author at NYC education event

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Presenting at today's education event in New York City, Apple has introduced iBooks 2, a major update of the company's reading app. A strong emphasis of the app is on textbooks, which can include things like movies, animations, and interactive elements, such as the ability to zoom into cell structures in a biology book. Books now also support elements like indexes, glossaries, review questions, and turning highlights or glossary items into study cards. Titles can be read in a new fullscreen mode, and a Textbooks section has been added to...

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This is all great (my previous caveats about eTextbooks still apply however) but I have to question two things. First off, why are they charging for high school textbooks? Do you have to purchase your high school textbooks in the U.S.? What parents will want to purchase something they get for free?

Second, this announcement ignores the real elephant in the room: the price of the iPad itself. Giving high school students discounted textbooks (let's assume for a moment that they actually purchase them instead of using the free ones given to them by the school) doesn't really matter all that much when you have to drop at least $500 just to purchase more content. Let's say you want two textbooks and the ones you want are the cheapest. That's $530 (before tax) for something that you get for free anyway. And, if you had a decent teacher, they'd make all this other digital content available to you for free as well. I'm sorry, but targeting this at high school students out of the gate was the wrong choice. The student population that they should have started with was the post-secondary crowd where not only will they have the requisite technology but they'd also be more likely to purchase an eTextbook since not only will they need a copy of the book anyway but they'll probably be much cheaper.

I would have also loved to have seen Apple release an OS X client for the eTextbooks. Surely this would have been a nice complement and it would have addressed those students who don't own an iPad. If my experience is anything to go by, notebooks outnumber tablets 10 to 1 (on a good day) and Apple would be wise to address this in the coming months.

Well, that's my critical reflection. I know I'm in the minority here with regards to eTextbooks but I will say this (since this always seems to come up): yes, I am a university student and probably have more experience than most people around here at the post-secondary level. So, I know what it's like to purchase textbooks.

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Until Apple release an iBooks reader for the Mac, most of my ebooks will be on the Kindle - which I can read on Mac, iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, PC, Android phone, or even a Kindle


Edit - Let me guess, this is US only, right?
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Originally Posted by vansmith View Post
This is all great (my previous caveats about eTextbooks still apply however) but I have to question two things. First off, why are they charging for high school textbooks? Do you have to purchase your high school textbooks in the U.S.? What parents will want to purchase something they get for free?
I went to Catholic schools and we had to purchase our textbooks directly. We also paid taxes to support the public schools. I have no kids now as an adult, but pay for school textbooks with my taxes. So, I guess it depends upon how you look at it. They aren't free unless you pay no property or state taxes (many don't).

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Originally Posted by XJ-linux View Post
I went to Catholic schools and we had to purchase our textbooks directly. We also paid taxes to support the public schools. I have no kids now as an adult, but pay for school textbooks with my taxes. So, I guess it depends upon how you look at it. They aren't free unless you pay no property or state taxes (many don't).
Free in my context meant "not above and beyond what you pay in taxes." I don't count taxes as a fee since that would be built into a tax structure that you couldn't avoid.

I'm surprised that you paid for your textbooks. Maybe it's a generational/contextual difference (or some combination of both) but textbooks were always free for me. We always had to give them back at the end of the year however but that wasn't a problem (what high school student wants to keep their social studies textbook?).

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I just don't understand why they put so much emphasis on K-12 when they will most likely NOT be the one's paying for the iPad on their own, but their parents. It's the college students, since they are already paying for books, that would benefit the greatest from this imo.

Textbooks in k-12 were always free, unless you are getting technical and are including taxes into it, for me too. It's the college stuff that gets expensive QUICK! I could get a new refurbished iPad for the cost of my books.

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As often as I write, the iBooks Author app is a good place to start. According to the MAS description, you can write something like a cookbook or travel guide. But what about those folks who own an iPhone or an iPod touch, but not an iPad? I would love it if Apple went further with iBooks and iBooks Author.

Secondly, when I was in high school, all my books were rented out for free from the in-school book room. If you lost or damaged the book, then you'd have to pay for it.

Thirdly, I do own an iPad ($400 I think)...and most of my text books per semester in college ranged from $325 to nearly $600. I'm on my third semester now.

As for iTunes U...it seems Apple is trying to compete with Blackboard here now...however I'm finding it to be a bit annoying that of all the schools in my state, the only school that supports it is also the most expensive school in the state.

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Originally Posted by vansmith View Post
Free in my context meant "not above and beyond what you pay in taxes." I don't count taxes as a fee since that would be built into a tax structure that you couldn't avoid.

I'm surprised that you paid for your textbooks. Maybe it's a generational/contextual difference (or some combination of both) but textbooks were always free for me. We always had to give them back at the end of the year however but that wasn't a problem (what high school student wants to keep their social studies textbook?).
I gotcha. I guess I was looking at anything I am asked to pay as a fee, since I am in fact paying it.

Anyhow, yeah, we paid for textbooks every year either in cash or school service hours. Since no one really wanted to spend the summer with the pothead janitors cleaning locker rooms, I just worked at a grocery store and wrote a check for the books in August. They did do a buy-back at the end of the year, but only for the few books they planned to reuse next year. They weren't concerned with whether we personally desired to keep our social studies books, but rather that everyone have the most current media every year. We weren't worried about saving trees so much back then.

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Hmm, I should ask my mom if she had to pay for her books since she had to pay to attend Catholic school (it's now provincially funded).

Oddly, I hear (and I don't have evidence for this) that the environmental impact of using digital textbooks is greater than paper ones. When you consider the electrical costs and the environmental costs of developing the hardware, that argument might make sense. If hybrid cars are worse for the environment given the production of the parts (and there is evidence for that), I suppose anything is. So maybe the lack of concern about the environment relative to now isn't so bad.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by vansmith View Post
Hmm, I should ask my mom if she had to pay for her books since she had to pay to attend Catholic school (it's now provincially funded).

Oddly, I hear (and I don't have evidence for this) that the environmental impact of using digital textbooks is greater than paper ones. When you consider the electrical costs and the environmental costs of developing the hardware, that argument might make sense. If hybrid cars are worse for the environment given the production of the parts (and there is evidence for that), I suppose anything is. So maybe the lack of concern about the environment relative to now isn't so bad.
You may be on to something Van!

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A little sluggish but it seems to work OK eventually. I suppose the whole World is downloading stuff on it at the moment.

Everything I have seen so far seems to be free.

iTunes U shows up in iTunes as well, but it doesn't seem to download the media to other iDevices or iTunes.

I downloaded some media on the iPad, the iPod Touch and already had some on iTunes - none of these synchronised with any of the others. Both the iDevices have the 'sync on' option set.
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Originally Posted by iggibar View Post
It's the college students, since they are already paying for books, that would benefit the greatest from this imo
I agree. Not sure which state's/counties have the $$ for iPads and stuff, but I'd imagine more college students utilizing these. I certainly wish I had this opportunity when I was in college.

I'm thinking about going post-graduate next year, and this would definitely save my back considering how much lighter an iPad is opposed to 2-3 textbooks.

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Originally Posted by Nighthawk4 View Post
Edit - Let me guess, this is US only, right?
Nope - I'm in the UK and the iBooks update was ready and waiting in iTunes for me.

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Nope - I'm in the UK and the iBooks update was ready and waiting in iTunes for me.

True. I have it installed now.

It asked if I wanted to sync with iCloud. Does that mean it is supposed to auto-download to all iDevices and iTunes as well? If so, that doesn't seem to be working.

Still good to see that content on the iDevices as well as iTunes.

Incidentally, if they can display this sort of thing on the Mac in iTunes as well as the iDevices, I don't see why they can't do the same for iBooks stuff too.
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