Get 'em while they're young...
You instil brand loyalty into impressionable youth, and guarantee a sustained market for your products in the bargain.
Ingenious! (Or ingenuous, not sure which...)
As expected, Apple has announced a major foray into the education arena with the release of three new – and free – apps, one for reading interactive textbooks, another for creating said textbooks, and a third for accessing K-12, college, and university course materials in iTunes U. More than the apps themselves, what Apple has …
Yes, that's right. Almost everyone in the western world is now blind, as a result of watching TV and looking at computer monitors their lives. We all have to be led around by elderly people who grew up before TVs and monitors were invented. Thank god for seeing-eye pensioners, I say.
..you may want to check your facts...
Granted it's not a direct result of the display, but more to do with lighting, shiny screens, not changing your field of vision etc.
Also take a peek here.
I also think it worthwhile investing in hearing-aid maker shares. All those kids with their iPods on on the tube, I can hear the "tune" (very loose description) as well as they can.
In a rather odd way I await the first litigation against Apple (and Sony, for the Walkman) for damage to hearing following prolonged use of headphones attached to a playback device. Or somesuch. One can only assume Microsoft would be safe, because nobody actually bought a zune. As far as I know.
Now, being old I need to pop over somewhere else to grumble about prices, lack of respect, and above all, can't they play a tune you can whistle?
Whilst they might not be sending people blind, the high contrast does reduce your eyes' ability to edge detect and increases the brain's processing requirements for grapheme-phoneme conversion. Our eyes evolved to be efficient in full colour under natural lighting so there's no good reason for us to be efficient on a bright backlit screen.
However, if the program allows you set the background to your own RGB settings, it could be an improvement on paper books. You can already do this with Windows but OSX doesn't have a single setting that affects all programs - there are a few 3rd party utilities that will put a tint across the screen.
Simply changing to white text on a black background would be a big improvement.
They hate students reselling their books to the next years students and have to keep creating new versions (mostly moving the pages around) to make using a used book harder. I remember one they tried shrink wrap licence to block resale. Now no one can resell their old books!
But they are just going to love giving Apple 30% off the top.
Charge the same as real books, block resell, and they don't actually have to mfr and distribute dead tree versions anymore. What's not to love - even giving Apple 30% they might still come out ahead?
The textbook market (in the sates at least) is a scam - always has been - and probably more so in primary/secondary schools than college (which, I agree, is pretty damn bad too).
My favorite was always the professors who mandated we use/buy their books to take their class : )
From my days as a student (very dim, I must admit), I remember the regular jamboree in the student union bookshop buying as many second-hand text books from my reading list as I could in order to save some money. I never felt the need to sell them again, but I know friends who did.
I can't see that happening with iBooks (even it it were legal!), so there may be a fault in the business model, although give students an incentive to break the DRM on the eBooks, and they probably will.
"My favorite was always the professors who mandated we use/buy their books to take their class"
That's a perfectly sensible practice. Writing a textbook is a lot of work, and while some authors get a fair bit of income from them, many don't. And most of those who do have to update the content frequently, so the hourly rate still isn't very good.
No professors get rich simply from requiring their own classes to buy their textbooks. Professors typically teach between a hundred and a thousand students a year (depending on subject area and type of institution), and royalties on textbooks are generally on the order of a dollar a volume. If you're getting rich from textbooks, it's because *other* professors have decided to require your book.
What teaching your own textbook does is provide your students with the material you feel is appropriate for your course. That's why you put it in your textbook in the first place. Why would you select a text that's a poorer match? (Assuming one is even available - in many cases, there's no published alternative.)
When I worked in a bookshop the standard, built into the cover price markup for the retailer was 40%. Or was it 45? Still, it is more than apple's 30% and the publisher doesn't have to pay to print, store and distribute the book either.
Also, with no physical books they no longer have to cover the costs of returns if they make a wrong guess as to how many copies to make at printing time.
Really, ebooks *should* be much cheaper to the consumer than they currently are, publishers are taking all the cost savings involved with e-publishing and passing very little back to the consumer.
Technically a markup of 40% would leave the publisher getting 1/1.4 * 100 percent of the cover price, which is about 71.5% — slightly better than Apple. By taking 30% of the sale price, Apple are effectively applying a markup of almost 43%.
Of course your other points are valid though, and the pricing looks reasonable. It sounds like they've divided the cost of a textbook that should last five years by five, on the assumption that each student will buy their own and not be able to resell it. Leaving weight considerations aside, I guess whether that's better for the consumer depends on what the resale price of US school textbooks tends to be.
Resale opportunities have improved for students because of the broader, more open market provided by the Internet. Many students successfully sell older editions online directly to other students. There's no financial risk to the seller (as there is to a bookstore buying back used textbooks), and the buyer often doesn't know, and doesn't particularly care, that they're getting an older edition. (Yes, professors often stipulate that students have the latest edition; and many students still get older ones, and muddle along.)
And many university bookstores in the US are now renting textbooks on a per-term (semester, quarter, or whatever) basis. Apparently that's a viable business model, or as viable as the whole sell-and-maybe-buy-back model.
I have to agree - as a cross between Keynote and Pages, it'd be great to slideshow the eBook I've created on my interactive whiteboard in front of the students, using my Macbook. They can follow on their iPads, whilst I demonstrate and check for comprehension, etc.
I understand Apple might be trying to encourage the use of iPads, but to expect a teacher to create a work, push it out to students and then have to eschew the use of the interactive whiteboard in favour of a handheld iPad connected to a data projector is, unfortunately, rather an obvious shortfall.
I'm a teacher, clearly - I can see lots of potential here, but there's a little bit of fail, too...
So, that's Apple entering the eBook market then. Not sure where they pulled the _text_book part from though. Perhaps to appear like they "created" a new thing instead of looking like they just joined a segment that has been around since the seventies. After all, they created the portable music player, they created the smartphone, they created the tablet PC, etc...
Apple's PR department is definitely very good.
The reason why they are textbooks rather than ebooks is that these are specifically books for learning in the classroom, which is what a textbook is.
Apple haven't invented the textbook what they've done is created a simple publication and distribution system for electronic interactive textbooks. I think the concept is great but the tie in to Apple hardware is very bad, bad for kids and schools that is, obviously very good for Apple.
So in other words if I want to sell an e-book, it's Apple only or avoid iBook author like the plague.
For the TL:DR crowd;
From the iBooks Author EULA
If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software (a “Work”), you may only sell or distribute such Work through Apple (e.g., through the iBookstore) and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple."
With some extra stuff later in the EULA.
Some would argue that it is their software provided for free and so should be able to impose a restriction like this in order to get revenue to pay for the software.
However, change the word Apple for Microsoft and how many people would be up in arms? Suddenly all the fanboys would be shouting as loud as they could about the evil M$. Anti competitive vendor lock-in like this should be made illegal.
Should be noted that Amazon don't even attempt to put this kind of restriction on content produced for the Kindle and leave you free to port it to any format and use any sales channel you like.
I have text books that 20 years old and other books that are older than that. I have seen 60 year old books that were still pretty useful. Plenty of people seem content to ignore things like total cost of ownership, longevity and other issues.
The real problem with textbooks is not that they are heavy or expensive but that they are largely redundant. What demand there is is kept artificially high by the same sort of proprietary interests that Apple itself represents.
Paper does have its advantages. Some things will be the same 50 years ago as they are today, so the textbook remains pretty much the same. For example most physical constants won't change. The date of the battle of Hastings is unlikely to be moved to 1974.
Moreover, the dead tree text books won't suddenly not work any more because the e-reader has been updated and is no longer backwards compatible, or the DRM has knackered your ability to look at it because you've done something unusual. Oh, and at the end of your first year at Uni, can you sell your e-books to the next year to get some cash back to buy the second year books you need?
"Its [sic] a completely different world from having to lug the textbooks around with you; and the iPad tends to be more useful in general than an eReader."
I've never minded "lugging" textbooks around, and I'd much prefer a good ereader (e-Ink screen and physical keyboard, like the original Kindle) to a frickin' iPad. And yes, I've used the latter. When I want a computer, I have my laptop.
If Apple put an iPad into my hands, as Rik wrote in the article, I'd hand it right back to them. And I'd drop any class that required an Apple-only e-text. Life's too short for that sort of nonsense.
I've been saying for a number of years now that it's just going to be a matter of time before we shift away from traditional textbooks to some sort of eReader in education - it makes sense from the standpoint of being more easy to readily update curriculum, it would be a lot less for students to have to carry around, etc.
But in order for that to happen, the device must 1) be rugged - it's going to have to stand up to it getting dropped, spilled on and abused, 2) have great battery life, 3) be easy to update (if it's not a networked device) and 4) be inexpensive! And right now the iPad doesn't fulfill all those requirements - plus there is the issue (as has been pointed out) of it not being as easy to read as other devices. I'm certain the shift will happen, but as for right now for most educational institutions the iPad (in it's current incarnation anyway) is not that device.
"The iPad seems to hit at least 3"
You can drop it -nope
> battery life
More than one day use away from the mains -nope
Charges over USB 2.0 -nope
> easy to update
Could be discussed. Easy when you can log on your Apple account. Tied to some form of access to your hard-earned (updates won't be free -not that they necessarily should). Let's put this one on the "maybe" pile.
> be inexpensive
That one hardly needs adressing.
So that's 3 definite "No"s and one "maybe".
Please explain the train of thoughts that lead you to post that the iPad meets "at least 3", or be labelled a fanbuoy (oh, the infamy!).
Disclaimer for the thought-impaired: getting the facts right is not a dig at anyone's personnal cult. Sheesh, kids these day.
So the iPad meets all your criteria except price but if I remember right (and this was years ago) my semester of textbooks if I couldn't find any used ones was around $800 USD whereas an iPad starts at $500. Now assumming the books are cheaper electronically (probably not since Apple is going to add 30% to the price) it might not be a huge amount more. Even if it isn't the cost of the iPad doesn't double the cost of your textbooks for one semester. Assuming 4 years, 8 semesters, $800 USD a semester that's $6,400 for textbooks making the iPad only a 13% increase in cost over 4 years, hey that's not too bad. And now the iPad doesn't need to be tethered so it could replace your laptop as your primary computer saving you the cost of a laptop for college (ok do yourself a favor and buy a Bluetooth keyboard for real typing though.)
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If you have a bought and paid for book you could sell it on to the next group to need it so the full purchase price is not a fully sunk cost, with care your US$ 800 investment should come down to somewhere nearer US$ 600 and the deal could be even better. Have you tried that with an ilock-u-pad?
While what you say is true for a college student having to purchase their own texbooks, I was thinking of education overall including public K-12. At the volume discounts school districts get for textbooks, it's cheaper for the textbooks than an iPad. On average textbooks run $50 each, and say if you have 6 classes, that'd be $300 - still far less than the starting price of an iPad. And I think the average college student is probably going to take better care of a device they had to purchase vs. something that is provided to say your average high school student. Since I work in educational IT I know how kids treat equipment and I don't think an iPad wouldn't last that long in that sort of an environment.
Take your booklist for this semester, walk down to the college drug^H^H^Hbookstore and if you buy new the cost is likely to be more than the cost of an iPad. If you buy old they will cost you an iPad once you buy for the whole year. 14$ is 5x reduction on the cost of an average university biology or chemistry textbook and 10x reduction on the cost of some law textbooks.
The ones to really hate Apple here are not the book publishers, it is the universities themselves. Each and every Uni in the USA makes a very nice and very tidy profit buying back books from students which no longer need them at the end of each academic year (when they are "liquefied") for under 50% of the price and selling them back to students at above 75% of the new price next year. On average your average American Uni has extra 100% return on each textbook (that is besides the cut they get for selling "new").
Apple (and Amazon with their Kindle for Uni programme from last year) have effectively killed that business. If I was the bursar at "Small university in the middle of nowhere" I would be pissed...
The textbooks *START* at $14. I hope you don't think the textbook mfrs would really let Apple sell their $70 dead tree book for $14 *before* the Apple tax ($9.80 after tax... which means more than a 7x reduction in profits).
If anything, I think history has shown a tendency to want to charge the same for a digital copy of something that they charge for a physical copy.
I'm not trying to slag Apple too much for this - I *do* think the textbook market is long overdue for a technical revolution... I'm just not sure the walled garden is where it will or should happen.
The article says: "'most' of their offerings priced at $14.99 or less". That's quite different from your shouty assertion that "the textbooks *START* at $14". It's explicit from the news released that the publishers will be selling their $70 books for $14.99, presumably because without a resale market they can sell a completely new set of copies every year.
'most' of their offerings priced at $14.99 or less.
"Most" is not "All", it will be the same as with CDs, $14.99 or less will only apply to the one that don't sell well. Looks like nobody has written any economics books that explain supply and demand pricing in iBook format.
Added to which the demand for educational texts is artificial since the demand is created by the requirement to read specific texts and not by open market forces.
McGraw-Hill, amongst others, has explicitly said it will be charging $14.99 for all textbooks that currently retail at $75. Terry McGraw of McGraw-Hill has spoken to journalists to confirm that and to confirm that he expects to make up the difference through volume.
Your theory that "most" books will be those "that don't sell well" and hence will be charged more is pure speculation and flies in the face of the announcements by (i) Apple; and (ii) the publishers themselves.
It might also be an idea to have VAT removed from ebooks so that the schools and/or students can afford them.
Also, an easy and simple way for the schools to have their own "library" of purchased ebook licences as not every book is issued to a student for the a full year or even a term. A "real" book might be used by 5 or 6 different classes over the course of a single day. Imagine the costs to a school if every student e-book reader has to have it's own copy of each required book for the whole school year.
Then there's the second-hand book market. Anyone who has been to college or university and had any sense probably saved a fortune by buying second/third/fourth hand text books.
Back in the day (fire was still "new tech" :-)), many of the text books I used at school in subjects like History, Eng. Lit etc were many, many years old. It's not as if Shakespeare's Henry V or Macbeth needs updating on a regular\r basis.
I have an educentric App on iOS & Android - in the UK all school iPads tend to run off a single iTunes account, supposedly you can only manage 5 - but its easy to get round and there's actually not much alternative practically.
Until Apple introduce an LVL equivalent or volume/edu purchasing outside the US, there's not a huge incentive for publishers software or tree-based to take on the inevitable losses of switching platforms - even before the 30% commission and content exclusivity is factored.
If they really want an iPad in every student's hand, probably time to figure out a way of allowing schools outside the US to buy Apps and manage devices - generally after the first misuse of teacher's credit card, the current prefered method is to re-enter jarg CC details and buy iTunes vouchers with petty cash.
have my 8 yr old take a $500 iPad to class. The same 8 yr old who repeatedly loses his lunchbox, his gloves, his agenda. Not really Apple's fault, but expensive & kiddy school is not a good mix.
For older kids, college, or even for company documents, who knows...? Can't be worse than the prices textbooks are going for. I'm curious to see how much innovation they've managed to carry out in this space.
The use of tablets as a medium for education material is going to happen, and I agree with many of the posters that dead tree media forms for higher education are massively over-priced. What I would take umbrage with however is a lock-in to the iPad. Digital text books are fine, but not in a format which will only work on a single company's device.
It's about time Apple got something done with Pearson and the other big publishers, it's been on the cards for at least a decade. Did anyone see if Murdoch and his educational intentions are mentioned in the mix? Thought not.
This generation of iPad - maybe not that great for all day use, subsequent displays / oled films etc, possibly.
The book price is beside the point anyway. The big gain from iBooks or whatever you want to call them is hybrid content. No way are they going to pass up on using knowledge of what content you need to study when, and push / promote that at just the right moment. Cram-fest season or not. Students (and teachers with targets to reach) are the ideal captive audience. That way your titles get much higher reach, which you makes more profit then arguing a few percents on the cover price.
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The hell with uni textbook publishers. I don't know about you but we went through hell with over stuffed ultra heavy backpacks and also had to carry more of the ultra useless books on hand or on wheeled carts. Most of us ended up with shoulder and back damage which is permanent and leads to worsening posture and issues as you get older all because the greasy text book bastard industry who and their supporters on here can go to hell! As mentioned an iPad costs less than a single semester of rip off books that you have to sell back for nothing because I've never used a single one in all my professional careers since uni. Uni is a total joke, worthless rubbish whose only worth in the job market is that you will stick through with something no matter how useless it is. Probably buttering you up to be shackled with a useless cheap plastic PC laptop, low end kit and and a demotivational job -- Probably writing FOSS or Windows software for a living.
When I was at uni, I carried a bag which contained the notebooks I needed to take notes at lectures, and the stuff I needed for tutorials. My textbooks stayed in my room, where I needed them on the rare occasions I actually did some work.
I saw literally no-one carry actual books except to and from the library or bookshop.
And so the Apple revisionism begins....
Actually people have been producing electronic documentation that includes stuff like embedded video, audio, and interactive illustrations for some years now.
Apple haven't invented anything new here. They have just created another tool to do the above, with the difference being that this one that locks people into the Apple walled garden in the process.
"That said, any effort to lighten the backpacks of students overloaded with hefty textbooks, along with making it easier for textbooks to be updated as scientific progess and historical events warrant, should be given a fair shake."
It's a solved problem. We call it "The Internet". Perhaps you've heard of it. Apple's product managers clearly haven't. Perhaps their walled garden is so effective that they've forgotten the outside world exists.
Factual material lends itself *extremely* well to websites because it has an extremely long shelf-life and no copyright protection.
If something is true, it tends to remain true. This is provably so in mathematics and certainly true in practice in science and engineering until you are well past undergraduate level. Indeed, it would be rather scandalous if this weren't true across the board, since that would imply that we were teaching students something that won't be any use in twenty years time /even in that academic discipline/.
Similarly, if something is true, you can't copyright a statement of the fact. Others are therefore free to take "the truth" and present it in their own way on their own web-site. Experience shows that quite large numbers of people do this quite voluntarily and there are whole web-sites devoted to small articles about stuff.
And lastly, increasing numbers of lecturers put their course synopses online. These summarise exactly what students need to know for exams, which is a convenience you'll never get in a textbook. (I'm assuming that most students, for most of their courses, mostly just want to pass the exam and move on to the next stage. Is that too cynical of me?)
I'm most knowledgable about the US market but over there the teacher shortage generally means that you end up with teachers having to do quite a lot of work outside of their own subjects, such as — for example — PE teachers teaching maths. Because they don't know the topic all that well, they're quite dependant on the textbook. Meanwhile, states require that textbooks be certified at the state level before schools are permitted to purchase them.
As a result web sites are generally out as a teaching tool because the subject-hopping teachers prefer to trust what the state has explicitly approved and the subject-native teachers can do without the liability of turning away from the specified materials.
The conservative approach that goes into textbooks prior to submission to state bodies therefore leads to children carrying around huge, heavy books with words that were fixed in stone a long time previous.
Forget the Apple angle; any move to electronic materials — which are less regulated at present and needn't carry the same heft or price — will be a great advancement.
Even NeoOffice, open office for Mac OS X, handles all these formats. Just update your open office program. Microsoft has nothing but their herd of astroturfers, shills and mind-controlled IT folks. And said team will do it's best to convince everyone on the planet that Microsoft is the only way to go.
Set yourself free! Get ANY other OS besides Windows. Demand that you not pay for Windows on your next hardware purchase if you want to use another OS. The Danger is Real! The danger is Microsoft!
That doesn't surprise me. I've had ppsx documents that Microsoft's own converter (for Office 2003 and earlier) couldn't cope with. I imagine Open Office (or Libre Office) is "playing by the spec" and consequently covers 99% of cases fairly well, but it only takes some author set in their ways to have something that doesn't work well built into their standard templates and suddenly none of their documents are convertible.
The one problem I had with reference material on my kindle as opposed to the 'real' copy was the relative ease with which I could jump from one section to another in the 'real' book but not quite so much with the kindle version. Novels and stories in general are a different matter of course, but in my personal opinion ebooks are not really suitable for learning, regardless of the device being used to view them. I have difficulty believing that this new system really changes things that much.
I'm well aware of what a textbook is. I can walk into my local bookshop and see thousands (one of the perks of Cambridge life). That's more ways of presenting the information than any normal student could possibly get through in their college years.
But I'm also aware that for every textbook, there is now a free website doing the same job. This is new in the last generation or so. For the previous 500 years, the alternative to paying for a textbook was "nothing". Now it is "several different presentations of variable quality". The facts will be the same in all. (Well, perhaps not, but that's true of textbooks too and cross-checking is far easier online.) The presentations may or may not hit the mark for you, but if not then there are others to try, all for free.
I'm not saying text-book authors shouldn't be rewarded. I'm just pointing out that they have to be a damn sight better at their jobs than they did in my day if they want to win customers. The market has changed, but the industry players don't seem to have noticed yet. Given the willful blindness of the music industry, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by this, but for Apple to have failed to notice seems extraordinary.
Maybe it's all the Web 2.0 twitter-fluff. Maybe everyone has forgotten that Web 1.0 was designed for the dissemination of information, published by the masses, for the masses, all at such low cost that there isn't room for a profit margin. (Actually, who am I kidding? Hardly anyone in the publishing industry seems to be aware of Sir Tim's original design goals. If they were, they wouldn't keep banging on about how "participation" was a "new feature of <some dross site or other>".)
> @Ken Hagan #
>A textbook isn't just a list of what's true. It is a way to present information in a useful way with examples and so on.
> Or maybe you'd like everyone to create all this material for free? I think publishers and authors deserve to be paid for creating educational resources
Sure. There are probably millions of educators out there that each is in a position to contribute to this sort of work. There's really no compelling reason that anyone has to actually pay for it. There is something to be said for paying for content delivery. However, the content itself should be easy enough to create if the entire world is collaborating.
You simply don't need to create a bunch of petty robber barons.
It was never the point. The actual talent probably thinks so too.
"I do not want any of these "apple" students to by my lawyer, doctor, etc.....
If there (sic) so thick to need to use apple products, I'd have no faith in their abilities!"
If I were hiring a computer tech, I'd probably want one who had spent his college years fighting every hoop that Windows or Linux had made him jump through to get them to work. If I were choosing a doctor or a lawyer, I'd want one who had been able to spend his/her time studying medicine or law, rather than computer internals.
But maybe that's just me.
Are they really just about to hand a very large number of college students an incentive to break the DRM on ebooks?
It's gonna be carnage!
Also, I certainly can't see an ipad being the winner once students are writing papers themselves. You will need a laptop - a proper one. I guess it might work in the US with it's penchant for multiple-guess. Not sure how to play MW on an ipad though.
Personally I liked to write on my textbooks and not being able to flick quickly through would have been a problem. I also found that writing things out with pen & paper to be good for memorising and organising thoughts.
ebook, epub, ibook, pdf, text, apps, websites !
What is needed in this "affair" is a new role more than anything else.
This new role could be described as "personal contracts/licences holder" "account managers for personal contract/licences and login/passwds or certificates"(no contents or copies in there, just references), something like that, several of them of course, and ability to move all your "assets" or "belongings" from one to the other, so that a trust relationship can exist regarding the privacy of these data (and privacy of these data also under strong legal constraints for these organisations).
Then you can have an environment with a clear role separation between these organisations on one side, and editors, on line shops, on line content holders and difusers on the other.
Which then could allow a user to buy an ebook, apps, websites (access to) "for life"(or with some timing guarenteed in a strict legal point of view, but "for life" in spirit), possibility of upgrade if new edition and you feel like it, and that's it.
Enough with these "private bookshelves"(music, video, sito shelves) linked to some device maker, on line shops, "social network", or some other giant !
A bit more developed below :
(and in the "copies_licences" text (2007) linked in the post)
And almost EVERYTHING already there really
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