Having used ebooks for classes in the past, I can tell you that the state of digital textbooks is appalling. Most are simply digital version of print textbooks. No interactivity or multimedia or anything that makes computers so powerful.
We discuss Apple’s education event and give our early thoughts on these new endeavors. We have played around with iBooks textbooks and the new iBooks Author.
A few things we have learned about iBooks textbooks and iBooks Author:
iBooks Author only outputs files that can be used in iBooks and you can only sell your iBooks Author books in the iBook store.
iBooks Author is free, which might explain Apple’s restrictions, but we haven’t ever heard of applications that restrict would you can with their output.
These files cannot be viewed on devices besides the iPad, including Macs.
The new iBooks app supports ePub 3, which brings richer graphics, multimedia and programing to ebooks.
iBooks Author appears to be the easiest and best digital textbook creation tool available.
Sorry for the delay with posting this episode. Hurricane Irene knocked out my power and then my vacation knocked out my will to edit this episode. But here it is, and it’s one of our best. I promise.
Onto the show.
Twitter exploded after the earthquake in Virginia. Twitter had more traffic from the earthquake than it did when Bin Laden was killed. People in NYC found out about the earthquake from Twitter before the earthquake made it to NYC.
Think about that for a second.
My first impulse was to check twitter after the earthquake happened. At first, we weren’t sure what happened at my work. Many of us wondered if nearby construction was the the cause of the shaking, but Twitter quickly educated me to the fact that people all over were feeling the same thing.
We discuss how it’s time for a disruption in textbooks. And why are ebooks just like print textbooks? Ebooks, by definition, are electronic. The good news is that there are some people innovating in the textbook space by incorporating video and other multimedia content.
And don’t get us started on the new law banning Missouri educators from interacting with students on social media. OK, get us started.
I mean it wasn’t until 2007 that it decided that it made sense to have its own Web site rather than to outsource online sales to archrival Amazon.com. How hard would it have been to figure out that the Internet was going to be kinda important?
While Borders was busy giving the Web and e-books short shrift, it was also doubling down on the notoriously tricky business of running brick-and-mortar superstores. Until late 2010, San Francisco had four Borders stores–three of which were within a mile and a half of each other. I’m no retailing genius, but I couldn’t figure out how the city could support so many giant bookstores in so little space. Now we know it couldn’t: the three ones that were practically neighbors are all gone now, and the last store will close as part of the final shutdown.
Put all of these curious decisions together, and it’s not hard to see why Borders is going away. Do not outsource your Internet presence!
Pottermore is a pretty big deal for the publishing world. First, the seven Harry Potter books will finally be coming out as e-books, but sold only through Pottermore.com. J.K. Rowling is bypassing her publisher, Amazon.com, the iBooks store and other popular e-book stores to control and deliver e-books as she wants them (and to avoid paying middlemen).
But that’s only part of it. Next, Pottermore will deliver new details about the Harry Potter world. A book and world as big as the one in Harry Potter could definitely use an encyclopedia. Pottermore will function as an interactive and social encyclopedia for readers.
Pottermore has also been hinted at as an online community/world where readers can read the books together, experience the Harry Potter world, play games, etc. We’ll know more in a month when more details and screenshots are released.
The potential for this is amazing. In my wildest dreams, I imagine an iPad app that is a beautiful 3D game (think The Sims or World of Warcraft), where users walk around the Harry Potter world, interact with other people around the world, form groups, read the books together, play games and more. The iPad and tablets would be perfect for this because they can do beautiful 3D games and provide a strong reading experience for books.
If books are to become electronic, why stop at e-books that try to merely mimic print?
The percent of U.S. adults with an e-book reader doubled from 6% to 12% between November 2010 and May 2011. Hispanic adults, adults younger than age 65, college graduates and those living in households with incomes of at least $75,000 are most likely to own e-book readers. Parents are also more likely than non-parents to own these devices.
I find myself reading more books now that I have ebooks. The ability to take all of my books with me on my iPad, wherever I go, lends it self much better to spontaneous reading. I also really like how my iPhone syncs with my iPad, and I can read a book for a few minutes if I get bored (when my wife is shopping or when I’m waiting for a drink order).
I believe that physical books — particularly well-done hardcovers (higher end than a standard one) — will become collectors items for people really interested in a particular book. A display item of sorts. For most other reading, ebooks will be the way to go.