Apple has announced it is launching a new initiative to make the iPad the new college textbook platform of the future. According to ABC News, Apple has been working with both established publishing houses and authors to port new and existing textbooks to the iPad so that students won’t have to haul around the heavy and expensive paper versions any longer. And while moving textbooks to the iPad will most certainly make them lighter, there is no word yet on whether students buying their textbooks in an electronic format will cost them less.
In a related piece of news, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Apple is also announcing a new product called iBooks Author, which will make it easy for anyone that wishes to publish ebooks specifically for the iPad.
ABC News says that the moves come about as Apple has come to realize that electronic textbooks are the last untapped sector in the book market. Until now, established publishers and authors have been reluctant to move their books to the electronic market for fear that prices will drop precipitously. Many have noted for years, the network reports, that textbooks at all levels, but especially for college students, are grossly overpriced and it’s all due to the monopolistic nature of the textbook industry.
Now though, because of its reputation and reach, those that have been holding back now appear to be welcoming the change with open arms. What’s not being said however is why. It appears the main reason is because both authors and publishing houses trust that Apple will not try to undercut the competition by lowering prices, thus keeping them cost competitive with paper versions. Also, there is the perception that moving to e-textbooks is just a matter of time, so why not go with a company that has a track record of not caving into to price wars with other vendors.
Regardless of motive, college students, at least those who own an iPad, or can afford to buy one, will almost certainly welcome this new foray by Apple into the textbook market. Partly because it’s likely to lighten their load, and allow for a richer experience, but also because college students have for years had a good relationship with Apple and their computing devices and have thus built up trust.
Thus far, again, according to ABC New, the venture seems to be paying off, as several publishing houses have signed on, and authors are already taking iPads on book tours around college campuses extolling their virtues. As sure sign of acceptance if ever there was one.