iPad Textbooks and iBookstore to Change How College Students Consume Books

ipad ibooksWere you one of the ravenous Apple fans who had your new iPad by lunch on Saturday? If so, you’ve probably played with it in the past few days as much as a child does a new toy on Christmas morning. Unlike the child though, you’re not likely to grow tired of it and move on anytime soon.

Whether you’re in the crowd that thinks Steve Jobs can do no wrong and the iPad is worth every ounce of hype and maybe more, or you’re in the crowd that thinks it’s completely overhyped and asking “why are we still talking about this?”, there’s no denying that this little piece of technology has the potential to revolutionize the way students do business on campus.

As far as college students are concerned, the iPad’s e-reader technology makes it incredibly applicable to their lifestyle. The iPad has the potential to free students from lugging weighty bags of expensive textbooks to and from campus. Weighing about 24 ounces (or 1.5 pounds), the iPad can effortlessly be taken anywhere you go. Slip inside a satchel bag, handbag or backpack, it’s thinner and lighter than probably any textbook you own.

With the iPad, you can skip the long lines, grumpy cashiers and ridiculous prices and exchange policies and just let your fingers wander over to the iBookstore, where there are tens of thousands of titles ready for download. There are even free books available, thanks to the epub format, the most popular open book platform. The epub platform makes it easy for publishers to adapt their books to an iBook version.

Other features that help sell the iPad as an ideal student companion, the hi-res LED backlit screen makes it easy on the eyes to cram an all-night reading session in before the exam. Vivid colors that make illustrations pop and crisp font (that you can change and resize) bring the books to life in a way no textbook can; you thought those biology graphics were nauseating before! You can bookmark pages for later reference, and when you’re finished reading the iPad will bookmark the page where you’re leaving off. You can also choose landscape view and hold the iPad as you would a book to view two pages at once, or choose portrait view to read one page at a time.ibookstore

One other remarkable feature is that the iPad gives you text and audio books in one. Using the VoiceOver feature, the iPad will read the book aloud to you, freeing you to take notes.

While the iBookstore isn’t currently stocked with textbooks for iPad, we believe publishers will spend summer vacation prepping for the fall semester. Several publishers are already on board to make their books available for the iPad, including McGraw-Hill. The iBookstore is, however, stocked and ready to serve students who are looking for the more leisurely side of reading. You can download a new novel, magazines or even your newspaper subscriptions.

19 Responses to “iPad Textbooks and iBookstore to Change How College Students Consume Books”

  1. JScottA says:

    MUlissi, unless you have 24hr day light where you live, you have to have a power source for light to read by. If you are inside you have a nearby power source because the lights have to be powered. Also, most e-book readers (including the iPad) can go for a very long time between charges.

    You forgot to mention the downside to a physical book. With no backup (something that iTunes does for you on the iPad), your physical book can be lost and corrupted (pages torn out, mis-prints, writing on the book/pages can obscure important information). Then there is the storage and transportation problem. If you use an eBook reader, as long as you have your device with you, you have access to your entire library of material.

  2. mike says:

    It’s usually not worth it to “sell back” textbooks for sometimes 1/20th of the original price. I’d much rather pay %35 less up front and keep the book!

  3. Alex says:

    I’m a fan of marking my books lightly (mostly in the books of subjects I intend to keep, like I would mark some integral formula or whatever in my calc book margin). Can you do this in the book reader?

  4. unomaha says:

    “Yes. It sounds great, but with DRM you can’t sell them back or buy them used, ending a huge help to students and giving publishers a huge windfall. No wonder they want in”

    You’re ignoring the fact that a whole hunk of money (which wouldn’t be made back via sellback programs) would still be in the students’ pockets. By not having to buy the hefty textbooks in the first place, more money is saved to “help students”…..

  5. Tom Jones says:

    keep up the great work! ive been reading for a while

  6. James says:

    Another article on this topic, more directed at middle / high school students and looking at the iPad as a way to reduce the health risks (which are real) for children lugging around backpacks filled with textbooks

  7. Toby Smith says:

    This is great because there could be a rental program for books instead of having to purchase them. Wouldn’t you rather rent an iBook from the iBookstore than pay for or rent a hard copy? Also if you did decide to purchase a textbook, you would be able to download updates to the book free of charge instead of having to purchase a new revise copy of a book you already had to buy. I really think that the iPad will revolutionize ebooks in the classroom.

  8. Julia says:

    Just wait until they start RENTING e-textbooks. Pay a fee and you get a semester’s worth of access to the e-version; a week or two after finals and you get prompted to pay more if you want to keep the book, or do nothing and have your access expire.

    Very low overhead for the publishers and mega profits.

  9. Lo says:

    I am a college student and think this /will/ lessen the textbook pricing stress even though you can’t sell them back, because e-books are much less money. Also, if I plan to sell them back I can just not buy them as an e-book; but there are a lot of my textbooks, like my Japanese or biology ones, that I feel the need to save for reference, and paper textbooks make that cumbersome and expensive to boot

  10. MUlissi says:

    This article overhypes the idea of digital books and doesn’t bring up the drawbacks, including the necessity of a nearby power source to make sure the device has power, the possibility of file corruption and the headache that could ensue in the attempt to get a new copy of the text, or the mutable nature of electronic documents and the idea that changes could be difficult to detect.

    This is not to say that there are no upsides, but it’ can be reassuring, and sometimes necessary, to have a physical text to lay your hands on.

  11. ftw student says:

    Yes. It sounds great, but with DRM you can’t sell them back or buy them used, ending a huge help to students and giving publishers a huge windfall. No wonder they want in.

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