Apple announced last week a major overhaul to its iBooks app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch they are calling iBooks2 which will allow textbooks to be sold and used on their devices.
iBooks in the past sold novels and other leisure reading, but this is the first time the application will support academic textbooks. Not only will students be able to read the textbooks , there will also be many interactive features, such as videos, games and quizzes, that a traditional textbook could not support.
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Apple has said none of the textbooks will cost more than $15, which is a far cry from the usual $80-$100 price tag for most academic textbooks. The company also already has partnerships with three of the largest textbook publishers in the United States: Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt- which combined make up 90% of the textbook market in this country. This means that all of the content that is available in traditional textbooks now will likely be available digitally in the very near-future.
While there are some pretty obvious pros to the new iBooks2, looming questions also remain: Will Apple be offering discounts on their devices in order to lure educators/students in? Will school districts be expected to provide the technology to the students free of cost or will students have to pay for their own? iPads currently run from $499.00-$829.00, which is a significant amount of money to pay up front for a delicate item that a teenager may forget on a bus. Will students have to get external hard-drives to store the textbooks? The average textbook is about 1.5 GB which means that a student would fill up a 16GB iPad pretty quickly. Will this replace courses such as biology where a significant amount of the work is done in a physical lab? Will high school students never experience the sacred ritual of fighting with your lab partner over who has to make the first cut into the poor frog at the beginning of the dissection?
Apple is not the only player in the digital textbook market, Google, Amazon and others have all tried it but so far none have really taken off. Apple is surely looking to replicate the success and total market domination of iTunes with it’s re-launch of iBooks.
While obvious challenges and questions remain there is no doubt that iBooks2 is the future of education. It will take some pains, money and a significant overhaul in the way we look at education to get there, but
Will the new iPad from Apple revolutionize textbooks, or is it nothing more than a slow laptop with a hefty price point?
The tablet PC might be the proverbial nail in the textbook coffin. Angst over textbooks has been in the air on college campuses for decades, and e-readers and alternative delivery options have started building momentum (just look at Chegg). It appears that with the release of the iPad, textbook publishers aren’t going to sit this one out. McGraw-Hill, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, among others, have all indicated that their textbooks will be available on the device in the near future. The Kindle DX has already been tested with the college crowd. Kindle can’t claim victory yet, but I’m sure it has gained some valuable student feedback from which to build.
The iPad’s price will put it slightly out of reach for young consumers for awhile yet, but as the device becomes more prevalent, students will likely be migrating to the iPad or other brands that follow. The real question is: Will textbook publishers still be gouging students with their e-book versions? The convenience of having textbooks in digital form is just one selling point, but if publishers and Apple think that point alone will sell readers and e-textbooks, they should think again. It does appear that textbook prices will drop when offered digitally, so the savings could very well pay for one’s initial investment in the iPad. Nevertheless, price is the primary pain point for students that should be addressed. Students will also demand other features such as ala carte downloading of chapters and review sections with the ability to print and highlight text.
So, who has the upper hand here? Actually, professors do, and that’s because students have to buy the books they assign for class. And because professors are not typically early adopters of new technology, it may be awhile before students do their back-to-school book buying on iTunes. Maybe once students get a taste of this technology, they will step up and demand that their textbooks be on these devices at prices they can afford. After all, they have already pushed textbook rentals into reality and made it a viable business model to boot.
For youth marketers, staying musically relevant means being ahead of the curve. You don’t have to ask why it’s important to know the hot music of today – just ask GAP, Apple, or Volkswagen. With so many new musical acts and albums coming out all the time, it’s hard to keep track of what’s popular with Gen Y. For those of you who don’t have the time to search out new tunes, I am here to help. If you are a youth marketer, put these on your iPod today.
Muse – “Resistance.” This English band, evocative of Radiohead and Queen, has been huge overseas for years but is finally gaining popularity in the States. “Resistance” is the title track from the group’s latest album, and in my opinion, it would be a good follow-up to the stellar first single, “Uprising.”
Little Boots – “New in Town.” Another English import, Little Boots is an electronic-pop artist whose dance hits could make her the Britney or Gaga of indie dance-pop. This particular song is already a Top 20 hit in the UK and could be big stateside if it gets the airplay. (It was also featured in the recent horror movie “Jennifer’s Body,” but that likely won’t give it much of a boost since no one actually saw the movie.)
Jay-Z – “Empire State of Mind.” By far the most mainstream of my picks, I know this song is huge after closing out the show at this year’s VMAs, but I’m still digging Hova’s homage to his hometown. Plus, with fellow New Yorker Alicia Keys as a duet partner, it seems like only a matter of time before we start hearing it in NYC tourism ads.
Miike Snow – “Animal.” I don’t know much about this band except that, yes, I spelled that correctly, and they are from Sweden. And Sweden rocks right? …Hello? All kidding aside, I can’t get enough of this infectious indie pop tune. Listen, and just try not to bounce along: I dare you. We haven’t had this much fun since Ace of Base redid “Cruel Summer” in 1998. Kidding!
Avett Brothers – “I and Love and You.” Made up of brothers Scott and Seth Avett, this folk rock band released its newest (sixth studio but first major-label) album on September 29, and it is already hitting the Top 20 on the Billboard album charts. Though their sound has been described as a fusion of punk and bluegrass, this title single off their album is a lovely piano ballad that might even inspire Steve Perry.
Bowerbirds – “Northern Lights.” Like the previous entry, this particular song comes from another folk rock band. The group is from North Carolina and is still pretty unknown, but their latest album is reminiscent of one of my favorites of 2007, Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago. “Northern Lights” is a college radio-friendly song, but the rest of the album Upper Air is worth checking out as well.
Metric – “Twilight Galaxy.” This song, though much more down-tempo than the other singles, has become one of my favorites off the latest album of this Canadian indie rock band. (Check out the singles “Help I’m Alive” and “Gimme Sympathy” if you aren’t familiar. They are both stand-out tracks.) Singer Emily Haines, who has also been a member of the band Broken Social Scene, has a voice with a breathy, ethereal quality to it that really smolders in this track.
Gossip – “Heavy Cross.” Speaking of unique voices, Gossip lead singer Beth Ditto definitely has a distinctive voice and persona. While this might be a little too Dolly Parton for some of you, it has really grown on me after a few listens of this first single. This band already has a cult following but may see more mainstream popularity now that mega-producer Rick Rubin worked on the latest (and first major-label) album. The new material is clearly more produced than the group’s previous work, and while longtime Gossip fans might not agree, I think it works in their favor in this particular dance rock single.