The hottest news of the week in the publishing world was the announcement by Apple that they were launching the iBooks 2 app.

This app allows anyone to create their own ebook. It is mainly for authors wanting to create textbook ebooks for studying, with the app allowing them to upload content such as videos, images, Word docs etc into the app, which then works out how best to lay out the content.

This app will potentially lower the amount of huge heavy print books which students have to lug around campus and makes it easier to find what you are looking for. Although i guess you’d need to have an iPad in the first place which isn’t cheap, although if these ebook textbooks are cheaper than the paper versions then maybe you could afford one (or possibly not with the recent hiking up of tuition fees).

Publishers have already made use of the iPad for children’s books, and there are some beautiful ebooks out there for the iPad which i’ve seen and tried out for myself, although i still would be a little reluctant to give my expensive iPad to a small child to use, wouldn’t you? The pictures and animations are really lovely, colourful and appealing, which makes a children’s book more special.

Textbooks seemed like the next obvious target by publishers to try to digitise, as they contain far more content than other books and have always seemed rather dull. I guess with the iPad app we can now create beautiful ebook versions of these textbooks which we can interact with and make learning more enjoyable. We already have seen what can be done with textbook content in apps, the most famous being The Elements app:

Textbook ebooks look like they could be pretty big if done well, and it will be interesting to see how this works.
Here is a video explaining about the iBooks 2 app:

The video points out some interesting points about the old print textbook: They are outdated almost as soon as they are published, as new discoveries are made all the time, and the time-consuming process of publishing a book means that a textbook can be up-to-date upon its induction but by the time it reaches the shop it can be several months out of date. The ability to update the content of an ebook as new information is discovered would allow students to keep on top of developments. It may make it a bit harder to keep track of quotes a student may take from a book if new content is added, making referencing a little bit harder, but we’ll see how this works. Another point is that print textbooks are static, so if you are studying science, then ebooks make it possible to show images as animations so they look more like the real thing they are describing.

However, according to the Guardian, the textbooks will only be available in the US for now, which means the rest of us will have to wait! My main concern is that with tuition fees going up by massive amounts, students will be unable to afford to buy these textbooks, whether or not they have an iPad (and i can’t imagine many will do, i rarely saw them when i was at uni not long ago), so one hopes that libraries will buy them in so students can borrow them, but i guess that in itself will conjure up a load of trouble with lending, as we’ve already witnessed with other ebooks.

These textbooks can open a whole new way of learning, which is an exciting prospect. They look more interesting than print books, and the ability to interact with the content within the book makes it a more compelling reading experience, and if i was learning a subject as heavy and information-packed as medicine or something, i would want a more exciting way of learning about it! And it also makes it easier to take notes by simply highlighting text with your fingers and pasting it into your notes, which seems a lot easier than writing it all down by hand! I only wish i’d had this when i was at school/university, would have made life a lot easier, even though i was only studying literature and language and not science or anything!

I wonder what you think of iBooks 2? Feel free to comment!

Articles consulted:
Telegraph.co.uk: Apple iBooks 2 app lets authors make their own books

Engadget.com: Apple ibooks 2

Guardian.co.uk: Apple unveils ibooks 2 textbooks ipad

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