As expected, Apple has announced a major foray into the education arena with the release of three new – and free – apps, one for reading interactive textbooks, another for creating said textbooks, and a third for accessing K-12, college, and university course materials in iTunes U. More than the apps themselves, what Apple has …
Get 'em while they're young...
You instil brand loyalty into impressionable youth, and guarantee a sustained market for your products in the bargain.
Ingenious! (Or ingenuous, not sure which...)
At least quote properly
He gives the kids free samples,
Because he knows full well
That today's young innocent faces
Will be tomorrow's clientele.
Tom Lehrer, "The Old Dope Peddler"
LOOKING AT BACK LIT SCREENS....
All day, fantastic exercise for your eyes!
The clever people will train as opticians because in 10 years time the condition 'appleye' will be so prevalent there will be huge opportunities to make money out of them.
Yes, that's right. Almost everyone in the western world is now blind, as a result of watching TV and looking at computer monitors their lives. We all have to be led around by elderly people who grew up before TVs and monitors were invented. Thank god for seeing-eye pensioners, I say.
Don't you mean
..you may want to check your facts...
Granted it's not a direct result of the display, but more to do with lighting, shiny screens, not changing your field of vision etc.
Also take a peek here.
Are the dangers of overuse of CRT vs. LCD, OLED, plasma etc. the same? What about CCFL vs. LED or EL backlights?
Eyes and ears
I also think it worthwhile investing in hearing-aid maker shares. All those kids with their iPods on on the tube, I can hear the "tune" (very loose description) as well as they can.
In a rather odd way I await the first litigation against Apple (and Sony, for the Walkman) for damage to hearing following prolonged use of headphones attached to a playback device. Or somesuch. One can only assume Microsoft would be safe, because nobody actually bought a zune. As far as I know.
Now, being old I need to pop over somewhere else to grumble about prices, lack of respect, and above all, can't they play a tune you can whistle?
Whilst they might not be sending people blind, the high contrast does reduce your eyes' ability to edge detect and increases the brain's processing requirements for grapheme-phoneme conversion. Our eyes evolved to be efficient in full colour under natural lighting so there's no good reason for us to be efficient on a bright backlit screen.
However, if the program allows you set the background to your own RGB settings, it could be an improvement on paper books. You can already do this with Windows but OSX doesn't have a single setting that affects all programs - there are a few 3rd party utilities that will put a tint across the screen.
Simply changing to white text on a black background would be a big improvement.
This setting exists in the Universal Access app available in the Settings control panel on Mac OS X. Don't see this option on the iPhone though.
CATCH THEM YOUNG.....
brainwash them, indoctrinate them, use subliminal messaging,
They will belong to meeeeeeeee.
"They will belong to i.......................
Should be love/hate for text book companies
They hate students reselling their books to the next years students and have to keep creating new versions (mostly moving the pages around) to make using a used book harder. I remember one they tried shrink wrap licence to block resale. Now no one can resell their old books!
But they are just going to love giving Apple 30% off the top.
I can see them biting
Charge the same as real books, block resell, and they don't actually have to mfr and distribute dead tree versions anymore. What's not to love - even giving Apple 30% they might still come out ahead?
The textbook market (in the sates at least) is a scam - always has been - and probably more so in primary/secondary schools than college (which, I agree, is pretty damn bad too).
My favorite was always the professors who mandated we use/buy their books to take their class : )
Just how much "Off the top" are they giving to bookshops at the moment?
Or are you under the foolish impression the Bookshops are charities?
When I worked in a bookshop the standard, built into the cover price markup for the retailer was 40%. Or was it 45? Still, it is more than apple's 30% and the publisher doesn't have to pay to print, store and distribute the book either.
Also, with no physical books they no longer have to cover the costs of returns if they make a wrong guess as to how many copies to make at printing time.
Really, ebooks *should* be much cheaper to the consumer than they currently are, publishers are taking all the cost savings involved with e-publishing and passing very little back to the consumer.
Technically a markup of 40% would leave the publisher getting 1/1.4 * 100 percent of the cover price, which is about 71.5% — slightly better than Apple. By taking 30% of the sale price, Apple are effectively applying a markup of almost 43%.
Of course your other points are valid though, and the pricing looks reasonable. It sounds like they've divided the cost of a textbook that should last five years by five, on the assumption that each student will buy their own and not be able to resell it. Leaving weight considerations aside, I guess whether that's better for the consumer depends on what the resale price of US school textbooks tends to be.
From my days as a student (very dim, I must admit), I remember the regular jamboree in the student union bookshop buying as many second-hand text books from my reading list as I could in order to save some money. I never felt the need to sell them again, but I know friends who did.
I can't see that happening with iBooks (even it it were legal!), so there may be a fault in the business model, although give students an incentive to break the DRM on the eBooks, and they probably will.
Resale value is VERY low, if you can even resell it! In over 60% of the cases resale is not offered because a new edition is available.
Professors requiring their textbooks
"My favorite was always the professors who mandated we use/buy their books to take their class"
That's a perfectly sensible practice. Writing a textbook is a lot of work, and while some authors get a fair bit of income from them, many don't. And most of those who do have to update the content frequently, so the hourly rate still isn't very good.
No professors get rich simply from requiring their own classes to buy their textbooks. Professors typically teach between a hundred and a thousand students a year (depending on subject area and type of institution), and royalties on textbooks are generally on the order of a dollar a volume. If you're getting rich from textbooks, it's because *other* professors have decided to require your book.
What teaching your own textbook does is provide your students with the material you feel is appropriate for your course. That's why you put it in your textbook in the first place. Why would you select a text that's a poorer match? (Assuming one is even available - in many cases, there's no published alternative.)
Resale opportunities have improved for students because of the broader, more open market provided by the Internet. Many students successfully sell older editions online directly to other students. There's no financial risk to the seller (as there is to a bookstore buying back used textbooks), and the buyer often doesn't know, and doesn't particularly care, that they're getting an older edition. (Yes, professors often stipulate that students have the latest edition; and many students still get older ones, and muddle along.)
And many university bookstores in the US are now renting textbooks on a per-term (semester, quarter, or whatever) basis. Apparently that's a viable business model, or as viable as the whole sell-and-maybe-buy-back model.
Still can't read iBooks on MacOS?
iTunes will happily let you buy eBooks, but there's no way to read them without an iOS device.
Same with this software - it'll let you create iBooks, but not actually read the damn things (AFAICT).
I have to agree - as a cross between Keynote and Pages, it'd be great to slideshow the eBook I've created on my interactive whiteboard in front of the students, using my Macbook. They can follow on their iPads, whilst I demonstrate and check for comprehension, etc.
I understand Apple might be trying to encourage the use of iPads, but to expect a teacher to create a work, push it out to students and then have to eschew the use of the interactive whiteboard in favour of a handheld iPad connected to a data projector is, unfortunately, rather an obvious shortfall.
I'm a teacher, clearly - I can see lots of potential here, but there's a little bit of fail, too...
you could run the app in the Xcode iPad emulator.
I admit - it's pants, but you did ask.
Use an iPad...
… like your students.
Isn't that the Dell Dude in the yellow T-shirt? Looks like he's reading someone else's stuff! Dude, you've been Delled.
Yellow t-shirt is having a David Bowman moment
My god, it's full of angry birds.
So, that's Apple entering the eBook market then. Not sure where they pulled the _text_book part from though. Perhaps to appear like they "created" a new thing instead of looking like they just joined a segment that has been around since the seventies. After all, they created the portable music player, they created the smartphone, they created the tablet PC, etc...
Apple's PR department is definitely very good.
Note to the fanbuoys
This post wasn't a dig at Apple's brand new product. I'm just calling an eBook an eBook. And I bet Apple's version will be very user-friendly, as always. It's just not remotely as innovative as the rumour was suggesting.
People who like anchored floating devices.
The reason why they are textbooks rather than ebooks is that these are specifically books for learning in the classroom, which is what a textbook is.
Apple haven't invented the textbook what they've done is created a simple publication and distribution system for electronic interactive textbooks. I think the concept is great but the tie in to Apple hardware is very bad, bad for kids and schools that is, obviously very good for Apple.
Read the article on venomous porridge about the terms and conditions imposed by Apple if you use ibooks author for commercial purposes.
There you will see what Apple is all about.
So in other words if I want to sell an e-book, it's Apple only or avoid iBook author like the plague.
For the TL:DR crowd;
From the iBooks Author EULA
If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software (a “Work”), you may only sell or distribute such Work through Apple (e.g., through the iBookstore) and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple."
With some extra stuff later in the EULA.
Some would argue that it is their software provided for free and so should be able to impose a restriction like this in order to get revenue to pay for the software.
However, change the word Apple for Microsoft and how many people would be up in arms? Suddenly all the fanboys would be shouting as loud as they could about the evil M$. Anti competitive vendor lock-in like this should be made illegal.
Should be noted that Amazon don't even attempt to put this kind of restriction on content produced for the Kindle and leave you free to port it to any format and use any sales channel you like.
> People who like anchored floating devices.
I was more thinking around the line of "light-headed, happily chained to the rock bottom, apple-bobbing (with the waves), hot-hair-blowing" but please do make your own definition.
I might have had respect for Apple if these textbooks were going to be published using open standards. As it stands Apple can go fuck itself.
someone forgot their wheaties this morning
Eric, you can use your real name here, we won't tell.
the iPad can read "Open standard" ebooks
Its up to the Author/Publisher what they want to use
Re: the iPad can read "Open standard" ebooks
Yes, but can iBook make them?
Yes. You can save in the open standard EPUB format.
New way of reading
Yeah I bet, since reading on an iPad is still a serious eyestrain compared to dedicated e-readers.
Its a completely different world from having to lug the textbooks around with you; and the iPad tends to be more useful in general than an eReader.
The test of time...
I have text books that 20 years old and other books that are older than that. I have seen 60 year old books that were still pretty useful. Plenty of people seem content to ignore things like total cost of ownership, longevity and other issues.
The real problem with textbooks is not that they are heavy or expensive but that they are largely redundant. What demand there is is kept artificially high by the same sort of proprietary interests that Apple itself represents.
Test of time
Paper does have its advantages. Some things will be the same 50 years ago as they are today, so the textbook remains pretty much the same. For example most physical constants won't change. The date of the battle of Hastings is unlikely to be moved to 1974.
Moreover, the dead tree text books won't suddenly not work any more because the e-reader has been updated and is no longer backwards compatible, or the DRM has knackered your ability to look at it because you've done something unusual. Oh, and at the end of your first year at Uni, can you sell your e-books to the next year to get some cash back to buy the second year books you need?
"Its [sic] a completely different world from having to lug the textbooks around with you; and the iPad tends to be more useful in general than an eReader."
I've never minded "lugging" textbooks around, and I'd much prefer a good ereader (e-Ink screen and physical keyboard, like the original Kindle) to a frickin' iPad. And yes, I've used the latter. When I want a computer, I have my laptop.
If Apple put an iPad into my hands, as Rik wrote in the article, I'd hand it right back to them. And I'd drop any class that required an Apple-only e-text. Life's too short for that sort of nonsense.
I've been saying for a number of years now that it's just going to be a matter of time before we shift away from traditional textbooks to some sort of eReader in education - it makes sense from the standpoint of being more easy to readily update curriculum, it would be a lot less for students to have to carry around, etc.
But in order for that to happen, the device must 1) be rugged - it's going to have to stand up to it getting dropped, spilled on and abused, 2) have great battery life, 3) be easy to update (if it's not a networked device) and 4) be inexpensive! And right now the iPad doesn't fulfill all those requirements - plus there is the issue (as has been pointed out) of it not being as easy to read as other devices. I'm certain the shift will happen, but as for right now for most educational institutions the iPad (in it's current incarnation anyway) is not that device.
The iPad seems to hit at least 3, with the 4th being very much dependent on your point of view. It stands up to my abuse (and believe me, abuse is the word) quite well, has great battery life, and is easy to update....
Actually an iPad costs less than a semester's worth of books
So the iPad meets all your criteria except price but if I remember right (and this was years ago) my semester of textbooks if I couldn't find any used ones was around $800 USD whereas an iPad starts at $500. Now assumming the books are cheaper electronically (probably not since Apple is going to add 30% to the price) it might not be a huge amount more. Even if it isn't the cost of the iPad doesn't double the cost of your textbooks for one semester. Assuming 4 years, 8 semesters, $800 USD a semester that's $6,400 for textbooks making the iPad only a 13% increase in cost over 4 years, hey that's not too bad. And now the iPad doesn't need to be tethered so it could replace your laptop as your primary computer saving you the cost of a laptop for college (ok do yourself a favor and buy a Bluetooth keyboard for real typing though.)
Walk into a USA college bookstore with a booklist
Take your booklist for this semester, walk down to the college drug^H^H^Hbookstore and if you buy new the cost is likely to be more than the cost of an iPad. If you buy old they will cost you an iPad once you buy for the whole year. 14$ is 5x reduction on the cost of an average university biology or chemistry textbook and 10x reduction on the cost of some law textbooks.
The ones to really hate Apple here are not the book publishers, it is the universities themselves. Each and every Uni in the USA makes a very nice and very tidy profit buying back books from students which no longer need them at the end of each academic year (when they are "liquefied") for under 50% of the price and selling them back to students at above 75% of the new price next year. On average your average American Uni has extra 100% return on each textbook (that is besides the cut they get for selling "new").
Apple (and Amazon with their Kindle for Uni programme from last year) have effectively killed that business. If I was the bursar at "Small university in the middle of nowhere" I would be pissed...