The digital textbook era has arrived

Apple Inc. has teamed up with the three largest textbook distributors throughout the world to incorporate the new iBook 2 software, opening up the long awaited world of digital textbooks.

Released Jan. 19, iBooks 2 software is now available to the general public. iBooks 2 is a new program that Apple designed with the companies Pearson PLC, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcour to revolutionize the largely untapped digital textbook market. Apple plans to start the new venture with the iPad and iPad 2 tablet computers.

“I give such incredible marks to Steve Jobs and Apple for having this vision and pushing it through the iPad; I think without a doubt this will open up a learning agency for anybody anywhere,” Terry McGraw, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The McGraw-Hill Companies, said.

Steve Jobs and McGraw have been in negotiation since last June in order to bring textbooks to the iPad tablet as an application. The digitization of textbooks pushes higher education beyond just high school and university students, to all consumers.

With the launch phase of iBooks 2, students can purchase their books straight from Apple Inc., bypassing school districts. The introductory pricing will be $14.99. A book and will include interactive features and videos to help facilitate a higher level of learning for students.

Terry Mcgraw noted that Apple would be taking about a 30 percent cut of all digital textbook sales. He stated he was “very relaxed” regarding profit sharing as distribution and printing of a standard textbook accounts for around 25 percent of the final sale price.

In addition to Apple Inc. releasing iBooks 2, the company has also released iBooks Author. This free application is to be used by consumers who wish to create their very own book without going through a standard publisher. Furthermore, Apple has also re-released its iTunes U (University) application that contains over 100 college courses from universities such as Yale and Duke. The program also allows professors to send messages, videos of lectures and other information such as a syllabi directly to their pupils.

The advantages of having a digital textbook on an iPad are clear. Students will no longer have to strain themselves carrying heavy textbooks from class to class, and they will have instantly-downloadable content from their iPad and iPhone devices. Traditional textbooks quickly become outdated. If they are digital, they can instantly be updated.

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