iBooks Textbooks

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 7:29 AM

Besides being interested in Apple technology generally, I am very intrigued by the new iBooks textbook functions premiered today from the standpoint of a teacher. The idea of being able to produce a highly interactive textbook that tie in with iTunes U sounds marvelous to me. That Apple seems to be working hard to drive down the price of textbooks only makes the whole proposition sound even better.

I think the one thing that is disappointing (though I can hardly expect Apple to fix it) is that the iBooks platform remains iOS-only. To me, a truly good e-textbook platform needs to work at least on Macs and PCs in addition to tablets and phones. Being able to use the Kindle app on my Mac to quickly cite materials I have highlighted is invaluable.

Relatedly, mobile device compatibility is also an issue. While iBooks works on iOS, the Kindle book platform works on iOS, Android, WebOS, BlackBerry OS, etc. In as much as one must have an iPad to use the new iBooks functionality, it seems to me that professors could only take advantage of the technologies Apple showed off if all students received an iPad as part of their tuition package.

That's unfortunate.


Apple has never been a software company they've been a systems company. While I agree they need a Mac client, what they really want is for Apple technology and education technology to be synonymous. This has been an Apple goal at least as far back as the IIe's On which I learned my first programming languages in middle school (mid/late 80's).

They've made a decision that they are going to offer something so cool everyone will feel compelled to purchase that iPad as a minimum requirement of good education.

Posted by Caedmon Michael - Jan 21, 2012 | 5:39 AM- Location: prayer + patience + poetry

I think you are right. In some ways, I hope that works, though I wonder if any particular tablet will ever be so ubiquitous as to allow schools to require texts that only work on one hardware platform?

Posted by Timothy Butler - Jan 21, 2012 | 8:08 AM- Location: Blah.

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