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What We Did and Didn’t Learn From Apple’s iBooks 2 Announcement

Today Apple unveiled their newest software, iBooks 2.  The application is available today for the iPad. The application is aimed at books, more specifically textbooks, but can be used for other genres.  It features a few differentiating features from traditional textbooks and is built to be interactive.  Lets take a look at what we did and did not learn from the announcement.

What we learned

  • Its interactive-Cool 3D models and videos are essential to the reading and learning experience.
  • The iBooks bring the family tap and pinch to zoom gestures.  Swipes are included also.
  • They work equally well in landscape and portrait orientation though the experience is different, by design.
  • Apparently the iPad makes being a good student easy.
  • Really cool feature where you can highlight text and create notes for them.  You can then take the notes which have their own section, My Notes, and create virtual 3×5 study cards.
  • There is a new section in the iBooks catalogue for textbooks.
  • The iBooks are created in a new app called iBooks Author.  It is an OS X application so for now the creation part has to be done on a desktop or laptop.
  • There are a number of templates to get authors started on creating textbooks.
  • Authors can drag and drop Word and other files into iBooks Author to avoid having to reformat your previous work. This is a major timesaver.
  • The iBooks Author app is WYSIWYG.
  • Custom widgets can be created. “If you can write code in Javascript and HTML, basically you can create your own completely custom widgets.” These widgets can help add things like image and video galleries.
  • You can publish straight to the store from iBooks Author.  There is a preview option available and if you have an iPad connected it will shoot straight over to the iPad for previewing.
  • Apple’s Phil Schiller says “It is the most advanced, most powerful and yet most fun interactive authoring tool yet created.” I disagree but whatever.
  • The cost is Free to publish.
  • First focus is on high school textbooks. The Cost is $14.99 or less.
  • Here is the big difference of Apple’s approach.  Students/Parents will have to buy the iBooks themselves, which Apple says is a change for “some” schools.
  • Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are first up, they’re responsible for 90 percent of the textbooks sold.  They have been partnering with Apple.  That is huge in my book because it means the industry heavyweights are backing Apple.  I think somehow education just went privatized.
  • Some iBooks will come with only a few chapters and be priced for Free but as more chapters are completed they will be made available at “a very aggressive price.”
  • There is an all new iTunes U, and a dedicated app. iTunes U is a phenomenal success and has over 700 million downloads since it launched four years ago. iTunes U is meant to make it free and simple for anyone to take courses anywhere.”
  • Apple will rake in the cash as more universities adopt iBooks as the primary way to instruct. Student bookstore workers might want to find other campus employment.

What We Didn’t Learn

  • Exactly what format this iBooks Author uses to publish the books. In a market where different formats have emerge and vying for the edge in the industry Apple is taking a solid swing at the title.
  • Just how “aggressively priced” additional chapters will cost.
  • Most importantly, how does Apple plan on getting iPads into the hands of teachers and students. iPads have to be affordable as we all know Apple doesn’t spend much time supporting legacy hardware so it is unlikely purchasing an iPad will be good to use for the duration of your educational career.
  • Will the iBooks Author or iBooks 2 applications be made available for Windows.

All in all today’s Apple announcement will make Apple’s stock price jump considerably as they now have another cash cow that will only get fatter. Unless of course Adobe and Amazon get wise and aggressive.  For all of Apple’s bold proclamations it is Adobe that has the most powerful creation and distribution tools. There is no doubt there will be billions to be made with iBooks for authors, publishers and Apple so ignoring the platform is a huge mistake. I just don’t think the product is revolutionary at all.  The most exciting part of the announcement is iTunes U with its vast content.  New created digital books are already interactive and animated.  Of course Apple is the first to publicly champion such features.

Information and pictures pulled from Engadget’s LiveBlog of the event.