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Saturday, February 11, 2012

OneTipADay - What Will You Learn Today?

OneTipADay - What Will You Learn Today?

Apple’s leap into the shallow pool of e-text publishing

Posted: 10 Feb 2012 07:18 AM PST

Posted on One Tip A Day - What Will You Learn Today?

This is a guest post by Melissa. If you want to guest post on this site, then please read our guidelines here.

In typical Apple fashion, iBook Author was unveiled on January 19. The new e-textbook publishing app from Apple held almost supernatural overtones as the project was foretold in the late Steve Jobs’ biography written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Walter Isaacson. While controversy has already descended upon iBook Author's <a href=””>license agreement</a>, a bigger issue exists regarding the tepid adoption rate among students towards the current state of digital textbooks.

Though little elicits more collective groans than the myriad of complaints against college textbooks, initial interest in electronic replicas of bound volumes has been met with sighs of disappointment. For Apple, with it's the entrance into the digital textbook market, the anticipation of moving the e-textbook industry forward has become palpable.

Not living up to expectations – yet

What began as a hopeful promise of cheaper book costs, up-to-date delivery of content and fewer trips to the chiropractor as a result of lugging books hasn't worked out on all counts. For one, though some textbooks are in fact cheaper purchased in digital form, many come with added fees if you want access to interactive features or use of the book beyond the end of the course. One study's finding reported a <a href=””>savings of as little as one dollar</a> by digital book users over traditional textbook usage. Other more subtle expectations have also fallen short.

In an age where most college students have known no other time than the digital age, expectations run high for tech features. College students of all ages want value-added aspects from their e-books. When a digital textbook purchase results in nothing more than a replica of the book’s print edition, this new generation of consumers is unimpressed.

As for weight and space, many students like the idea of having a bound copy of their core subject textbooks to use years after graduation. While cultural changes may eventually result in a shift  to completely digital publishing, for now, Apple has some obstacles to overcome.

Taking on the experts

Some suspect that Apple's entrance into digital publishing is an attempt to consolidate the many different resources available for this relatively nascent industry. However, there are quite a few sites for acquiring digital texts that seem to be doing just fine. Two of these, <a href=””>Barnes & Noble Nook</a>, and Amazon Kindle Textbook, offer an already-large selection of digital textbooks. More importantly, both have extensive business experience in the publishing industry.

CourseSmart is an online distributer of e-textbooks that works directly with educational publishing powerhouses such as Pearson and McGraw-Hill Education. Having established relationships with educational publishing houses, CourseSmart is well-positioned to fend off threats by competition, which Apple seems to be making with iBook Author.

Been there, did that, then left

Betting against the late Steve Jobs’ now-publicized intentions is something to be approached with great trepidation. However, a large portion of the education community has a long-standing grudge where the computer giant is concerned. In the 90s, Apple dominated the school computer landscape. Unfortunately, they made a terrible miscalculation in relying on developers to create supporting software. When the plan failed to materialize – according to Apple’s standards – the company bailed. They left thousands of school districts with functionally obsolete platforms that were not much more than very pricy word processors. Microsoft and PC manufacturers combined to satisfy the needs of schools, who likely never forgave Apple.

Although Apple has seen its failures, betting for the company seems to be a solid bet in the long run. Apple, however, should not underestimate their competition. If they do, the success they hope to achieve from the release of iBook Author may be a long, lonely battle.

 ABOUT AUTHOR: Melissa Crossman blogs on behalf of <a href=””>AIU</a>. She currently resides in Indianapolis with her two dogs.

Apple's leap into the shallow pool of e-text publishing is a post from One Tip A Day - What Will You Learn Today? - Tips for your PC, Mobile, MP3 player, Software and more. Each day One Tip will be posted: Simple and quick to apply for all user levels.. Visit One Tip A Day - What Will You Learn Today? for the Latest Tips for your PC, Mobile, MP3 player, Software and more. Each day One Tip will be posted: Simple and quick to apply for all user levels.


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