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Apple Nets 350K Textbook Downloads In 3 Days 376

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-what-do-we-leave-on-the-teacher's-desk dept.
redletterdave writes "On Jan. 19, Apple introduced iBooks 2, its digital solution to the physical textbook. In the first three days of release, users have downloaded more than 350,000 e-textbooks from the new platform, and more than 90,000 users have downloaded the authoring tool to make those e-textbooks, called iBooks Author. It makes sense that Apple's iBooks 2 platform is taking off in such a short period of time; there is very little merit to the physical textbook, and the education industry has been waiting for a viable solution like this for some time. Physical textbooks lack portability, durability, accessibility, consistent quality, interactivity and searchability, and they're not environmentally friendly."
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Apple Nets 350K Textbook Downloads In 3 Days

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  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:20PM (#38798607)
    If they're anything like me, they downloaded the Author application, played with and saved a test "publication", then tossed the application into the shitcan with all the other applications that save only to proprietary venues/formats.

    Author will save only to ".ibook" (a modified version of ".epub"), a crippled .pdf, or .txt (the latter without any graphics, of course). And it will not "publish" to anything but Apple's store for use on iPhones and iPads.

    I have no use for such lock-in, proprietary bullshit. I'll publish my work in a .PDF instead. Sure, it will get "illegally shared" some, but as far as I am concerned that is still better than this. And there are ways to help prevent that, too.
  • by wjcofkc (964165) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:20PM (#38798613)
    I'm a bit of an apple fan boy and am all for promoting them but could you please do better than directly quoting verbatim their own promotional material in the summary?

    example:
    "...there is very little merit to the physical textbook, and the education industry has been waiting for a viable solution like this for some time. Physical textbooks lack portability, durability, accessibility, consistent quality, interactivity and searchability, and they're not environmentally friendly"

    Seriously, go to apples website and watch their promo video (it actually is pretty cool) You will find that the summary was largely directly lifted. Are you trying to use these as your own words? They are not used in the story so...
  • Re:What platform? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hedwards (940851) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:21PM (#38798619)

    I did a quick search and apparently the iBook format uses a proprietary CSS which makes it not entirely compatible between itself and ePub.

  • by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:37PM (#38798787)
    For any publicly funded institution, it should not be legal to lock into a proprietary format and platform where an open one exists. Unfortunately, Apple targets schools with lots of freebies and advertising, so I think the future is looking a little bleak.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:39PM (#38798803)

    It's very attractive in theory, but when I look at the license agreement I'm not sure I can go with it (About iBooks Author->License Agreement). If I use these tools and charge a fee I *have* to distribute the book through Apple. I understand the rationale. Why should the tool be free if I can turn around and distribute it somewhere else? It's only fair for Apple to expect something in return.

    On the other hand I'm picturing what would happen if I put a few months work into a text, it becomes popular/useful to others, and then someone asks if other arrangements can be made for distribution (e.g., maybe someone wants to make and sell a regular paper edition). I'm stuck if I ever charged money for it.

    Granted, the restriction only exists if you charge a fee. If the text is free "you may distribute the Work by any available means". This part is awesome! Full kudos to Apple for that and for making the agreement relatively simple. But what if I wanted to charge, say, $5 a textbook to help cover costs of its development and maintenance? Nothing substantial, but covering things like hiring a student to do drafting of figures, preparing photos, editing, that sort of thing. This would be publishing on the cheap rather than completely free. Unfortunately once you cross into the "fee" realm at all, you've made a deal for sole distribution with Apple, and it isn't clear whether there is any alternative.

    Thus, as much as I like it, I hesitate, because I'm not certain I want to distribute my work for free rather than very cheap compared to the usual textbook. Maybe this is Apple's way to encourage people to write free works. If so, then I applaud their approach. I'm just not sure it is the way I want to go. At least with licenses like the GPL I have the *option* to charge money without having further license complications.

    You're probably all thinking I'm a stingy old !#$%!% now :-)

  • Re:What?! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by revscat (35618) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:42PM (#38798837) Journal

    Durability? Like, when I spill coffee on mine? Or, drop it? Or, draw mustaches on the people in it?

    Anecdotally, I have heard students complain that book publishers have recently introduced a different kind of glue for the books' bindings, one which degrades rather quickly, over a year or so.

    A quick search isn't turning up anything about this, but I have heard it enough over the past year or so to give it some credence. Perhaps others on /. who currently are students can share their experiences in this regard.

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