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iBooks 2 To Change School And Learning

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It’s not exactly the conventional back to school season, but that didn’t stop Apple from making a rather monumental announcement in New York earlier today. The Cupertino crew have unveiled what they call Textbooks for iPad, making a very big play into the potentially lucrative education industry.

Unveiled simply as the new textbook category in iBooks 2, Textbooks for iPad is supposed to provide students with a more modern way to learn than the old dead tree edition textbooks. Since it’s on the iPad, it should come as little surprise that these new e-textbooks (or iTextbooks, if you prefer) are interactive. You get multitouch gestures, dictionary lookup integration, annotation, text highlighting, note-taking capabilities, and virtual note cards for later studying.

And just like how iTunes revolutionized digital music, Textbooks for iPad could do the same for education. For starters, they’re only doing high school textbooks (at $14.99 or less) via the iBookstore, but they’ve got big time publishers on board already, including Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. If they make it to college and university textbooks, which easily cost $100+ each, Apple could have a huge cash cow on its hands.

Coinciding with Textbooks for iPad is a new tool called iBooks Author. This is a Mac application that lets you author, build, and publish interactive digital books for iBooks. This includes gallery support, 3D animations, interactive images, custom Javascript, and custom HTML5, all within a familiar iWork-like environment. And yes, it’s a free download.

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About Michael Kwan

A freelance writer and tech geek from Vancouver. Find me at michaelkwan.com and follow me on Twitter @michaelkwan.

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