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Apple takes bigger bite out of textbook industry with iBooks 2

Courtesy of Apple, Inc.

Apple, Inc. announced Thursday that it is tapping into the textbook industry with the new iBooks 2 application, with which users can download interactive textbooks to their iPad.

The iBooks 2 app, the second generation app to Apple’s iBook, which allows users to download electronic books to their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, educates students through interactive textbooks on the iPad. Students will be able to read textbooks, make notes and turn them into flashcards, zoom in on detailed pictures or define unknown words immediately.  

Apple also announced iBooks Author, which allows users to create their own iBook and iTunes U, an app that allows those with iOS-capable devices to take high school and college-level courses for free.

“Without question, this is the direction (textbooks are) moving.” said Ken Petri, Ohio State’s director of web access.  

Onlineeducation.net, a database for students to explore educational opportunities, reported in its latest blog post that on average, electronic textbooks are 53 percent cheaper than the hard copy.

As of Thursday, students can download the app and buy textbooks through iTunes at $14.99 or lower.

“Digital textbooks will dominate following a lifelong-learning subscription model; in essence an updatable ‘editionless’ textbook,” Steve Acker, OSU research director on Ohio Digital Bookshelf, said in a press release. “The ‘net cost of use’ of digital should be 15 to 20 percent below costs available to students who purchase books.”

Some OSU students said they would use the new app if it becomes accessible to college students.

Edin Hadzic, a fifth-year in political science, said he would use the new app.

“I think going toward more computer-based stuff, ebooks, stuff like (that) will be beneficial because more and more students are using it, especially if it is cheaper and more accessible,” Hadzic said. “Hopefully (textbook companies) will consider dropping their prices a little bit because textbooks are expensive, as everybody knows.”

Yet it might be a while before OSU will be able to adapt to this form of ebook.

Apple is targeting high school students and has partnered with high school textbook publishers McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Some Ohio high schools have been using tablets for education. Columbus School for Girls, a K-12 private school, have used tablet PCs in the classroom for high school students since 2006, said Ben Liu, the IT Director at CSG.

Liu said students use a stylus, which is an electronic pen, on the tablet’s screen for PC involvement during class.

“(About) 70 to 80 percent of students utilize the stylus for notes and projects,” Liu said.

However, Liu had no statistics stating the success rate of students using the tablet PC versus students who do not use tablets.

Petri said the new app can be adapted to college-level education.

“McGraw-Hill and Pearson have tons of books in college editions,” Petri said. “If you look on the store now, there is an algebra book, there is a biology textbook, there’s a chemistry book, and there is no reason at all that these can’t be more advanced textbooks available at a college level.”

Larry Rogers, a fifth-year in computer science and engineering, said this is another step toward the end of traditional publications.

“Everything is so digitized now-a-days anyway,” Rogers said. “I feel like there isn’t going to be any more type of publishing in the next five to 10 years. No newspapers, no textbooks, nothing. I feel like everything is going to be digital.”

Maggie Otto, a third-year psychology and international studies, said she would not use a digital textbook.

“Personally, I like books so I don’t want to get a Kindle because I like holding books in my hand. I think I focus better,” Otto said. “I just like having the textbooks and it makes me feel better to carry around and have to do this.”

The iBook 2 app can be downloaded from iBookstore, which can be found in the iTunes store.


Ritika Shah contributed to this story.

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