Apple’s iBooks 2: A Long-Term Game-Changer

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(originally published January 20, 2012)

In January, Apple announced their release of digital textbooks in partnership with publishers Pearson PLC, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In the long term this is a significant game-changer for the delivery of textbooks to schools. Adams is very excited about this development as during the past year we have been working to license delivery of eBooks to schools using a more open, non-proprietary platform. The publishers have been slow to take action, stating that there was content in their textbooks that they did not have the rights to distribute electronically. It appears that Apple’s clout has managed to filter some of the problematic content out of a limited number of textbooks and/or create new textbooks that excluded these issues. There are sure to be more titles made available in the coming year. The pricing of the eTextbooks made available at present is extraordinary: $14.99 or less.

The caution for schools in all of this is not to let “the tail wag the dog.”  It’s in all schools’ interests to provide an extraordinary education, utilizing cutting-edge technologies to prepare their students for the future. It’s our interest at Adams to help facilitate these groundbreaking classroom experiences. However, it’s equally, if not more important, to avoid forcing nascent technologies into a classroom setting simply for the sake of it.

Looking at this development in the short term, the immediate offerings are limited. Only eight school-level textbook titles are available across all disciplines through the iBooks 2 platform. These textbooks are versatile and interactive and will likely be well suited to some classrooms. Accordingly, we encourage schools to remain diligent in evaluating these titles as you have always done for book adoptions. While we realize the prestige that comes along with being a leader in the adoption of technology, we’re also aware that doing so prematurely could potentially result in a less-than-optimal classroom experience. In our role as your gateway to an ever-changing publishing world, we look forward to working with you to evaluate whether these titles are an appropriate academic fit for your classrooms and to develop future strategies for eLearning.

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