Academic textbooks ripe for digital destruction

Nieuws | de redactie
24 januari 2012 | Apple follows the vision of its founder Steve Jobs in tackling the academic textbook market. Jobs called it ripe “for digital destruction”. At low prices students should be able to purchase digital textbooks or join a digital learning environment.

Apple announced the launching of iBooks 2, anapplication that will massively expand its offer of academictextbooks. Paperback editions have been straining student budgetsfor a while now and what traditional publishers offer for €100 andmore, Apple wants to provide for $15 (€12) digitally enhanced withvideos, pictures and audio files.

Steve Jobs mentioned this new strategic focus of Apple ininterviews with his biographer Walter Isaacson saying that academictextbooks represent a “$8 billion a year industry ripe for digitaldestruction”. iBooks 2 coupled with Itunes U is now aiming torealize this ambition by getting major publishers like McGraw-Hill,Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on board.

Itunes U offers a digital learning environment accessible byteachers and students sharing lectures, assignments, books,quizzes, and syllabuses. Added feature: Itunes U also compiles freecontent made available by top universities like Cambridge, Duke,Harvard, Oxford and Stanford.

iBooks 2 will be functioning as a digital library wheretextbooks can be purchased. In the past, Amazon made an attempt atcapturing some of the digital book market by offering academictextbooks for Kindle. Experts, however, predict that Apple willhave it much easier attracting students given that its devices(Ipad and Iphone) can display videos, pictures and audio files.

Google and Pearson are working on a similar product called OpenClass, a free alternative to Blackboard. How technology may enhanceteaching and learning was also discussed during a seminar organizedby Harvard University and RooseveltAcademy.

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