Apple iBooks Textbooks- a chicken/egg dilemma

http://techland.time.com/2012/01/20/apples-ibooks-textbooks-4-reasons-to... TIME Techland :

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There’s no denying that interactive, digital textbooks are the future, but let’s not get too excited about Apple’s particular solution just yet...

Schools won’t invest in iPads without enough textbooks to suit their specific needs, and publishers won’t make huge investments in this new kind of textbook unless there’s a large potential customer base.

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Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/leading_from_the_classroom/2012/01/appl... ]Education Week Teacher Blog

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Apple announced their E-Textbook Initiative to enter and revolutionize the textbook market, specifically centering these initiatives to highlight the potential of the iPad in education.

iBooks Author allows anyone to create a textbook for the iPad. One can create a textbook on the iPad with multimedia and interactive features such as video, interactive images, Keynote presentations, and 3D images. There are also "review" tools that allow the author to create multiple choice and drag and drop questions.

iBooks 2 is their updated eReader that takes advantage of many of the iPad's interactive and multimedia features in textbooks. Books created in iBooks Author can be read in this app.

iTunes U is now a separate app for the iPad that contains thousands of free courses. More importantly, any educator can now create courses to teach anyone who is interested.


and
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/01/20/18apple.html?tkn=ZWZFUrSIWn... ]Apple Unveils E-Textbook Strategy for K-12
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Apple Inc. announced aggressive new efforts yesterday to move into the K-12 electronic-textbook market, though educational publishers said the biggest news from the move is how the normally disruptive company is likely to help the publishing industry rather than challenge it.
Through a partnership with three major K-12 textbook publishers—McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt—Apple is offering interactive textbooks through its iBooks store at $14.99 or less. The textbooks feature multimedia elements, including video, three-dimensional graphics, and photo galleries. They also allow students to highlight text to create flashcards and search within a glossary.

I wonder if any Christian school publishers are going to go that route, and will Christian schools/colleges be quick to adopt new tech?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

I think most Christian colleges will be dealing with it sooner rather than later. Obviously, there are some specialized Christian texts put out that will take more time, but most college courses will use the mainstream books. Since college students would generally buy their own iPads and textbooks anway, this will be great for them. For K-12 schools it will take much longer, since buying the hardware (which in that environment would probably last 2 years at most) will be a significant investment, and the kids usually don't buy the books. I would assume that Apple (or others who produce similar-type books) will have to have reasonable programs for leasing/repairing the hardware, and then will have to show the schools that they won't be spending more on eTextbooks than on the regular kind.

Dave Barnhart

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I think iBooks Author has tremendous potential for education, both elementary and higher ed. I wonder if other tablets have similar apps and will attempt to enter the education market.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Susan, if I understand correctly, iBooks Author can export in forms that would be usable on other platforms. The bigger issue will be the licensing. If Apple does this right (for me, that's the $64,000 question), and allows licensing of the software elsewhere, this has the possibility to shake up the industry the way iTunes did. I have no doubt Amazon is already planning/executing how they will be in on this as well.

Dave Barnhart

Jay's picture

I saw http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/apples-mind-bogglingly-greedy-and-evil-li... ]this tonight on ZDNet , and if true, I don't see how any Christian publishers could use iBooks Author to create textbooks and still stay afloat. Keep in mind that if you sell anything through Apple (iTunes, iBooks, etc.), you usually have to pay a 30% commission to Cupertino. The parts I've underlined are parts I've underlined for emphasis.

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Imagine if Microsoft said you had to pay them 30% of your speaking fees if you used a PowerPoint deck in a speech.

I’ve downloaded the software and had a chance to skim the EULA. Much of it is boilerplate, but I’ve read and re-read Section 2B, and it does indeed go far beyond any license agreement I’ve ever seen:

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B. Distribution of your Work. As a condition of this License and provided you are in compliance with its terms, your Work may be distributed as follows:

(i) if your Work is provided for free (at no charge), you may distribute the Work by any available means;
(ii) if your Work is provided for a fee (including as part of any subscription-based product or service), you may only distribute the Work through Apple and such distribution is subject to the following limitations and conditions: (a) you will be required to enter into a separate written agreement with Apple (or an Apple affiliate or subsidiary) before any commercial distribution of your Work may take place; and (b) Apple may determine for any reason and in its sole discretion not to select your Work for distribution.

And then the next paragraph is bold-faced, just so you don’t miss it:

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Apple will not be responsible for any costs, expenses, damages, losses (including without limitation lost business opportunities or lost profits) or other liabilities you may incur as a result of your use of this Apple Software, including without limitation the fact that your Work may not be selected for distribution by Apple.

The nightmare scenario under this agreement? You create a great work of staggering literary genius that you think you can sell for 5 or 10 bucks per copy. You craft it carefully in iBooks Author. You submit it to Apple. They reject it.

Under this license agreement, you are out of luck. They won’t sell it, and you can’t legally sell it elsewhere. You can give it away, but you can’t sell it...

One oddity I noticed in the agreement is that the term Work is not defined. [Update: Yes, it is, as I noticed on a fourth reading. It's in an "Important Note" above the agreement itself: "any book or other work you generate using this software (a 'Work')." Of course, that uses the term "work" recursively. It’s capitalized in the relevant sections of the EULA, and it clearly is the thing of value that Apple wants from an author.

So it sounds to me like this is the ultimate catch 22 - you CAN use the software if you want to market using Apple's clout, but you basically lose all control of that work IF Cupertino decides to publish that work, and even then, you will not get nearly as much as you would using another publisher/vendor. Of course, if you have to use iBooks Author, you don't even have the option to go elsewhere.

The other problem is that while Apple's products can read ePub, you can't publish in ePub format. That's basically what happens according to this article:

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I’m also hearing, but have not been able to confirm, that the program’s output is not compatible with the industry-standard EPUB format. Updated: An Apple support document notes that “¦iBooks uses the ePub file format” and later refers to it as “the industry-leading ePub digital book file type.” But iBooks Author will not export its output to that industry-leading format.

My longtime friend Giesbert Damaschke, a German author who has written numerous Apple-related books, says via Twitter that “iBA generates Epub (sort of): save as .ibooks, rename to .epub (won’t work with complex layouts, cover will be lost).” Even if that workaround produces a usable EPUB file, however, the license agreement would seem to explicitly prohibit using the resulting file for commercial purposes outside Apple’s store.

So you can apparently save to the industry standard ePub (as opposed to Apple's special ePub format), but you'll lose all the formatting that you would have created via iBooks Author. Oh, and even then, you still can't sell the book unless you want to go back and reformat all the text and then put it in a totally different format that someone else can use to print your book.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Jay,

I stand corrected on the output capabilities (though I think that will eventually change), but I pretty much stated that the licensing would be the real issue.

Honestly, though, I don't think it will matter. If this (e-textbooks) catches on, Amazon will certainly provide a content creator of similar quality, and eventually either a reasonably compatible standard will be hammered out, or Amazon's software will simply run on i-devices the way Kindle does today. (I have ebooks in both iBooks and Kindle format, but I have many more of the latter since they work on more hardware.) I'll bet that's true of a lot of generally Apple-centric people.

Even if Apple's solution isn't eventually the best, I'm still happy that they have the clout to force this type of change in the industry. It's been held off long enough.

Dave Barnhart

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Looks like Apple may already have a huge success on its hands. Some analysts estimate Apple already sold around 350,000 textbooks from their limited selection *the first weekend* after being released.

http://money.msn.com/top-stocks/post.aspx?post=0cfa412c-b880-4823-b2b8-1... ]Possible Apple textbook sales

This is going to be a big shift in the industry. And if Apple doesn't license things the right way, this won't slow down the big publishers (though they won't like it). The smaller ones will end up using something else, but I'll bet their content will still be available on Apple devices, just not as convenient to publish and acquire.

Dave Barnhart