iBooks: The next wave of disruptive technology from Apple

On January 19 2012, Apple Computers announced three new updates that will revolutionize the education system. Here are the highlights from the big announcement  and why book stores EVERYWHERE should be panicking.

iBooks: Now Includes Textbooks

Has anyone seen Al Gore's "Our Choice" app? In Summary, the book is a beautiful, interactive story that can be downloaded on the iPad or iPhone. This is the basic concept for what Apple envisions for the future of textbooks. 

Apple expects to take the industry by storm with the help of major publishing houses McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin, bringing interactive and entertaining education to students of all ages. The idea being that students can easily access and purchase books from the iBooks book store at a (much) lower cost than their hardcover counterparts with amazing functionality. iBooksCredit: www.apple.com

Along with being visually superior to printed pages, iBooks contain videos, interactive sections, the ability to add notes, refer to a glossary with ease and automatically create flash cards for last minute cram sessions. 

iBook Author Software

In addition to major publisher's jumping onboard, Apple has also created easy to use Software called iBooks Author. At first glance, the software seems far superior to present day ebook publishing suites, and companies like FastPencil and SmashWords should be shaking in their boots. 

The software comes free on the Mac App store and allows users to create, preview and publish interactive ebooks on the iBook store with ease.

The other interesting side note here is the implications this has for other eBook services like Amazon, Kobo etc. Since this software is propriety for the iBook store and far superior to other publishing services, will authors and publishers jump ship?


The third and final note of the presentation included an update to iTunesU, moving it from a repository for acedmic audio sessions, to an application that contains everything needed for an academic course. 

It allows students to subscribe to a course and have the professor publish a course syllabus, materials and all other course information and integrate that material into the course textbooks found on the iBook store. It's a complete end to end solution for today's student and makes it a lot easier to carry around a stack of textbooks when they are stored in a device weighing under 2 lbs. 

The Future?

The presentation was amazing to watch, and it is full of potential but I wonder how Apple will work their way into school boards across the country, especially High School's since this was a large part of the presentation. They breifly covered how students would pay for the materials with some sort of rebate from the school board, but it remains to be seen how they will do this. 

I see big problems for small book stores around University and College Campuses, especially used book stores that promise low rates. I also see this spreading like wildfire into Cookbooks, How To books and any other book where learning is the prime objective. For Barnes and Noble, Indigo, Chapters and other big box stores, this spells big sales losses in these categories. 

If anyone can revolutionize the way students learn, it's Apple. To steal a quote from the recent press conference "I profoundly believe that this will change the way teachers teach and kid's learn"