Apple launches iBooks 2, adding interactive textbooks

Apple promised a big announcement when it revealed earlier this month it would hold a press event today that would focus on education. Today the company announced that it is launching iBooks 2, a new version of Apple's eBook store exclusively for the iPad. This new version will have added support for purchasing interactive textbooks at prices of $14.99 or less.

According to Apple's press release:

iBooks textbooks offer iPad users gorgeous, fullscreen textbooks with interactive animations, diagrams, photos, videos, unrivaled navigation and much more. iBooks textbooks can be kept up to date, don't weigh down a backpack and never have to be returned.

Textbook publishers such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill and Pearson will be offering their books via iBooks 2. In addition, anyone will be able to publish their own textbook, or indeed any kind of book, via iBooks 2 with the new iBooks Author software for the Mac App Store. The press release states:

Authors and publishers of any size can start creating with Apple-designed templates that feature a wide variety of page layouts. iBooks Author lets you add your own text and images by simply dragging and dropping, and with the Multi-Touch widgets you can easily add interactive photo galleries, movies, Keynote presentations and 3D objects.

There's no word if Apple plans to release the iBooks Author tool for Windows users.

In a separate press release, Apple announced the launch of the iTunes U app for all iOS devices. The new app will allow teachers to offer full courses, including lectures, quizzes and more, to all iOS users. The press release states:

The iTunes U app gives iOS users access to the world’s largest catalog of free educational content from top universities including Cambridge, Duke, Harvard, Oxford and Stanford, and starting today any K-12 school district can offer full courses through the iTunes U app.

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Doesn't make sense to me.

Currently ipads break federal laws when brought into public schools (private schools are under different laws). Apparently IT can't manage the ipad device, therefore kids can look at naughty pics.

I understand that schools want to looks the other way to get the "coolness" factor of an ipad in the classroom, but match the issues with the device not manageble with the device also not supporting flash and it seems silly to spend the time on one. BTW - i hate flash too, but most school software is primarily built on the flash platform... So the expensive ipad becomes very limited.

So I'll give my 8 year old an iPad to take to school. A day later it's stolen/broken/lost. I'm out $500. FML

If they can get the cost of these things WAY down and the durability WAY up, then maybe... otherwise, no. Teachers do need an engaging way to educate children. Boring text books are, well, boring. But physical interaction beats everything hands down. So it can apply to some aspects but maybe not others. Also, I hope these things don't end up doing the work FOR the kids.

Nice thought but I'm skeptical. We'll see.

Or the school buys them borrows them to their students with all the books included, for a reasonable cost for the parents ?

And while middle and high school have their places, the most extravagant books, the ones that really use the interactivity, they are targeted for colleges and universities.

Good God… I was hoping for iWork '12. That can't come soon enough. They didn't release it, it gives me a better to hope they make it a true rival to Office 2011 this time.

One sad thing though, iBooks Author is a brand new, written from the ground up application, and it STILL has an inspector palette, a fonts palette, a colors palette, menus, … It's safe to say that the next iWork will feature the same kind interface >_>

Single-window interface anyone ? Or at least dockable windows ?

I can only imagine the effects these "books" will have on kids' eyes. Paperbooks or e-ink are better in that regard. The current iPad screen is not good for extended reading.

The wording is a bit misleading. I have it on my iPod Touch so iBooks 2.0 isn't iPad-exclusive. The interactive textbooks may be, however..

While I completely despise apple they do have every right to do this and charge however much they want, if you dont like it then the solution is simple, don't buy it.

seebaran said,
Isnt' there an open e-book standard so there are multiple e-textbook marketplaces?

Sure, but those are just standard, static eBooks. These aren't eBooks - these are more "smart", interactive books.

FMH said,
Haha, sorry for the typo. I was referring to Jobs' own ambition.

And based on that article you linked, he wished to break into the textbook market. That's exactly happened at this event. Where does it say his ambition was to launch an e-book reader? The iPad already serves this function.

Manish said,
That's exactly happened at this event.

There should be a "what" in there somewhere. (Still hoping for an Edit function for comments on mobile devices.)

I think it's cool for the iPad, ****ty for the iPhone and I can't believe they wouldn't include MacBooks seeing as almost every student has a MacBook for class!

xXgreatestever said,
I think it's cool for the iPad, ****ty for the iPhone and I can't believe they wouldn't include MacBooks seeing as almost every student has a MacBook for class!

It's Apple's move of locking education into iPads before Windows 8 and Android tablets possibly break in to those markets.

Enron said,

It's Apple's move of locking education into iPads before Windows 8 and Android tablets possibly break in to those markets.

Makes sense with more and more student using tablets at uni[From what I have seen]. Once universities start cooperating with the Apple model, add on some type of DRM. They will have the key market locked up.

A comment I read on Engadget which sums up my thoughts nicely:

"So Apple creates the store to sell books, creates a program to easily create and upload books, houses the digital copies of each book, negotiates with the book companies, and places a cap on how much they can charge you. And you guys complain that Apple is making too much money off of this? Why should they do this only for book writers to prepare their books completely on Apple software, then take their books elsewhere?


KingCrimson said,
Typical greed move by Apple.

Greed is the motivation for pretty much any profit yielding organisation. Including your beloved Google I'd imagine

KingCrimson said,
Typical greed move by Apple.

And? They're still doing a legitimately good job about it. They've made the effort to do it right, and they're innovating in the space - they deserve any money they get for doing so.

KingCrimson said,
Typical greed move by Apple.

The intention is greedy, yet the consequences will be rather admirable in the upcoming weeks.