Apple is pushing to get the momentum going on another digital revolution. It is a revolution that has been trying to gather enough steam to get going for some time. Think ebooks and education. Apple has launched a new publishing software for creating textbooks.
Textbooks are a real problem that desperately needs addressing. For centuries they have been printed and little has changed. Textbooks require too many tangible resources to produce and once they are published, the information is outdated almost instantly.
A more recently acknowledged problem is that the backpacks of school children are now 25% of their own body weight. Back problems and bad posture are the school children’s disease in this day and age. Something must be done about it and Apple has taken it on.
These children are children of technology and their learning aids must match. They could benefit from Apple’s Multi-Touch textbooks. Of course, these textbooks could be made on any platform, but Apple happens to be the company pulling it all together. Granted, it is long overdue, but then, no one else is doing what needs to be done.
The pages of the textbook now come to life at the fingertips of the child. 3-D objects can be rotated, a photo is now a stack of photos, and the page is turned by sliding the finger along the bottom. More importantly, the student can highlight and take notes, as well as search the text. Best of all, the child can carry every book on their iPad.
This is all great, but you have to ask yourself how these so-called “textbooks” are any different from websites. Once the pages contain interactive elements, we are no longer talking about books of text. These are indeed websites contained in an archived format that is readable by a software interface (basically a browser).
I doubt Apple has thought through the impact this may have on the academic and publishing industries either. If Congress wants to go after the culprit for the damages to the economy, namely depriving millions of jobs, they should start with the computer industry giants. Piracy has far less an impact than Silicon Valley.
Professors try hard to win publishing contracts, because it means big money to supplement their mediocre salaries. Apple will be depriving them of this. Apple may argue that they can still publish, and that although the sale price is much lower per text, that they will reach a larger audience through the Internet. However, the academic publishers have perfected their reach in their market. The Internet will not reach more universities, since publishers already supply all universities.
Aside from the economic impact, both pros and cons, there are some invaluable features. One of the most useful is the automatic study cards created from your highlighting. Not only that, each color of highlighting produces a different study card set.
Apple puts out the app to make these books, iBooks 2, for free, but to use the textbooks you have to pay $14.99 . If you want to make your own textbook, you can publish it and make a few bucks, but for this you will need iBooks Author app.