iPad’s Potential Impact on Textbook Publishing

26 Feb

“Last time there was this much excitement about a tablet, it had some commandments written on it.” Martin Peers of The Wall Street Journal made this statement about Apple’s newest brainchild, the iPad, before its introduction on January 27, 2010. Measuring 0.5 inches thick and weighing in at a mere 1.5 pounds, the iPad has more than 140,000 available applications as well as a ten-hour battery life. Most of the current e-readers on the market today, such as the Kindle and the Nook, only allow e-books to be viewed in grayscale. The iPad will offer all content in full, high-resolution color on its 9.7-inch screen.

Like the iPhone and the iPod touch, the iPad has an interactive touch screen. Use it to browse the Web, read e-books, listen to music, check email, and view video. Michael Conniff of the Aspen Post said the iPad is the, “first device that collected all the media together in one truly portable place.”

The device is causing quite a stir amongst book publishers. In approximately ten weeks, school textbooks will be available on the iPad in the form of highly interactive applications.

TSTC Publishing is adding the first e-books to its inventory. Math for Healthcare Professionals and Electromechanical Principles of Wind Turbines are in the process of being developed for the e-book format.

With the advent of e-readers and the iPad, publishers have unlimited possibilities when it comes to creating interactive content for textbooks. “Traditional books don’t have moving parts or make sounds, and now suddenly publishers have to become experts on e-books that do… They have to become— among other things— multimedia producers,” said John Ott and Eric Freese of Aptara, a digital content and book publishing company.

Need to read a chapter from your history textbook? There’s an app for that. Simply click on the application for the book, download the first chapter, and you’re off. Touch pictures within the text to view a slideshow of related images. With the new textbook application, simply touch the imbedded charts, graphs or statistics to receive step-by-step explanations. Complex figures are made comprehensible when they become “live” with a single tap.

Still unconvinced of the iPad’s value and significance? Many textbook lessons will be “presented” by notable experts, authors and industry professionals. Documentary-like footage and video will further aid in content mastery and learning. Definitions for vocabulary words can be obtained by touching the highlighted text. With another iPad application, users can even record class lectures and presentations.

The iPad also could eliminate one of the most costly and frustrating textbook problems facing students: The new book edition. At least every two to three years, depending on the subject, books are updated and revised, costing students hundreds of dollars and leaving old editions obsolete. Although still in the works, an iPad application would offer book edition updates. Of course, publishers would still have to pay to make the updates, and that cost would have to be passed on to the consumer. So it comes down to the convenience for the user.

I also haven’t mentioned time. With more and more and more information available, how does one access it all? Is more information always better? Soon we’ll need an app for Information Overload.

Starting at $499, the wireless and 3G models will be available in late March and April.



7 Responses to “iPad’s Potential Impact on Textbook Publishing”

  1. Stephen Tiano February 26, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    So, Mark, are you simply opening the InDy file an exporting to EPUB format using Adobe’s free Digital Editions software? And is that all of it then? (For instance, for Kindle, there’s one more step, turning the EPUB file into the MOBI format using another free–I believe it’s free; it’s been a while since I installed it–utility called Calibre.)

    As a matter of fact, I used some of Electromechanical Principles of Wind Turbines for this experiment. And I blogged about my experiment transforming an InDesign file into a Kindle-ready doc: http://tianobookdesign.com/blog/?p=37 and http://tianobookdesign.com/blog/?p=42

    A day or two after Apple announced the iPad, I emailed them to see about whether they had put forth any guidelines for creating eBooks for the iPad (similar to their Human Interface Guidelines for software developers). I got only an acknowledgment of my email; no answer. Have you gotten any info from them for optimizing files for e-reading on the iPad?

    • Mark Long February 26, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

      well, currently we’re still using CS2 but when when we upgrade to CS5 later this spring, that’s essentially what we’re looking to do.

  2. Stephen Tiano March 5, 2010 at 10:22 pm #

    I’m glad I skipped CS4. I’m planning to go straight to CS5 also. It’ll have CS4’s way in to EPUB formatting and, hopefully, then some.

  3. Stephen Tiano April 18, 2010 at 8:47 pm #

    Thinking some more about the iPad, I’m concerned whether eBooks will get to be so multimedia that they’ll cease to be books that people read. I’m just not thrilled with print books becoming passé. But, although print books may have life left in them or not, I’ll have to simply get with the program and adapt to whatever’s left when the smoke clears.

    Still, I’m going to CS5 in a few weeks or whenever it’s out. And I’ll hold off on an iPad ’til second-gen comes out, as I strongly suspect it’ll have a video camera and better connectivity.

    • Mark Long April 19, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

      Well, Steve, if I had to guess I’d say that I think enhanced ebooks–text plus multimedia stuff–will probably become the preferred form content delivery in the next 10-15 years. Readers would take to it now but it’s publishers that are leery of the various market implications and will be more slow to roll it out. I think the big shame is that most people see books just as a collection of text as opposed to a carefully constructed artifact designed to deliver content as effectively as possible. I mean, with the MP3s nobody cares what the format/delivery platform is as long as it sounds the same but with books just delivery the keystrokes that make up a novel (or whatever) just isn’t the same proposition.

  4. Stephen Tiano April 19, 2010 at 6:26 pm #

    10-15 years seems longer than I’d expect, but who’s to know without more “evidence”? I suspect you’re right that readers are more open to the whole eBook thing. And perhaps it’s a shame that too many of them have no sense of the importance/romance of the book.

  5. iPad-eBook-Download April 21, 2010 at 9:49 pm #

    download ebooks for the best ereader every the ipad!

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