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Apple Nets 350K Textbook Downloads In 3 Days 376

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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  • Not to mention... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhtooefr ( 649901 ) < minus punct> on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:00PM (#38798357) Homepage Journal

    ...that you can resell a physical textbook, sometimes, and that cuts into textbook publisher profits.

  • Unofficial Source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:01PM (#38798377)

    The numbers have been released by a third party. Remember that before you take them for granted and/or bash Apple.

    I for one can't imagine what "proprietary methods" are able to estimate download numbers from Apple's servers.

  • by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:02PM (#38798381) Journal
    My systems analysis textbook set me back almost two hundred dollars brand new. My database management book was $120 used. My professor was the author of the latter; he had said he had asked his publisher about eBook editions, and they demurred, because their profits would be cut in half.

    The textbook industry needed this swift kick in the nuts to break up the racket.
  • What platform? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:06PM (#38798431)

    So how does this "iBooks 2" work on non-iOS devices? Android? Linux? MS-Windows?

    I have nothing against digital books, but if they are going to be locked up on a single platform, this is not a good thing (especially for educational uses).

  • by grege1 ( 1065244 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:07PM (#38798445)
    Great, too bad if you are poor, no more textbooks for you. No iPad no education. There is no merit in this kind of lock in.
  • by twotacocombo ( 1529393 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:08PM (#38798455)
    Which is why they come out with a 'new' edition every couple of years, rendering the previous editions 'obsolete' and therefore worthless on the secondary market.
  • What?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ichthus ( 72442 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:10PM (#38798481) Homepage

    Physical textbooks lack portability, durability, accessibility, consistent quality, interactivity and searchability, and they're not environmentally friendly."

    They lack... portability? Ok, if you have to carry 5 of them around, I see your point.
    Durability? Like, when I spill coffee on mine? Or, drop it? Or, draw mustaches on the people in it?
    Accessibility? .... ok, you win.
    Consistent quality? So, you're going to GUARANTEE consistent content quality in eBooks?
    And, of course, the ebook argument wins on searchability. But let's face it, an Index/TOC is practically just as good. Unless you're searching for absolutely every occurrence of a specific word, a good index is just as good.

    But, are we really going to argue that iPads are more environmentally friendly than text books? That would be an interesting discussion.

  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:13PM (#38798515) Homepage Journal

    forces you to sell only via the Apple Store. So, Apple will make 30% on every text book sold which is written in their new tool, and likey 30% on every new, yearly addition which changes a picture here or there and yet charges full price (what, you don't think this odious practice from physical books will make it into electronic textbooks?)

    Talk about vendor lock-in.

    And good luck trying to sell your book at the end of the year back to the Apple Store...

    Very little of that is relevant if it reduces the student's final book costs by 70%. I'll happily give Apple their book lock-in all day long if it saves me a few grand on textbooks. Wouldn't you?

    (I yanked that 70% out of thin air, someone with better digging skills please dig up some hard numbers for us, but I can't imagine the savings being any LESS than that really, anyone that's had to pay their own college bills knows books are a complete racket)

  • by Synerg1y ( 2169962 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:14PM (#38798527)

    Yep, but remember some books like say your biology textbook, benefit greatly from this refresh, but a writing book??? Sounds like a partial racket, confirmed by 1k+ college textbook bills. Irregardless of research, some people are making bank on this.

  • by Freestyling ( 997523 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:15PM (#38798537)

    "Physical textbooks lack portability, durability, accessibility, consistent quality, interactivity and searchability, and they're not environmentally friendly."

    For me studying physics every day the e-textbook is still years away from being useful. I can agree with the portability argument but thats about it. I can, with a real, physical textbook have the following advantages over an iTextBook however:

    - drop a textbook without breaking it, and even if I damage it I can still use it, not wait for my insurer to maybe replace it because the screen shattered

    - flick open at the index and quickly find what I want, and flick back and forth between sticky marked pages, and generally navigate a real book a lot faster

    - have several books open on my desk at once - rather a necessity for any scientist

    - be sure that the textbook I have bought is decent, well edited, well peer reviewed and correct, because it came from an internationally renowned publisher not "#physicsgeek78695#", as Apple seem to want to make the e-textbook market the same as the Android App Store

    - keep a real book if I decide to change my computer manufacturer, phone, name, credit card number etc.

    - Be sure that my textbook, while murdering some tree somewhere and not being 100% green and hippy, did not cause several factory workers to jump to their deaths, add to the toll of heavy metal pollution in east asian watercourses, or pad the coffers of Apple in preference to the Authors who sweated over the book. Odds are Apple will take a bigger cut than conventional publishers, because brand power means they can.

    Just my $0.02

  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:15PM (#38798545)
    Book: Grow tree. Create paper. Use for a hundred years or so. Paper rots. Repeat.

    iGadget: Mine toxic heavy metals. Make gadget with slave labor that last for a few years. Burn electricity to use gadget. Throw gadget in landfill when done. Repeat.

    I think I'll stick with real books, thanks.
  • by toolo ( 142169 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:18PM (#38798575) Homepage

    And what precedent in history have you seen that would make you believe this?

    They will still be overpriced, locked into the walled garden and the secondary market will be eradicated. Thinking otherwise is just falling into the trap that has already been laid with other eBooks.

    Win for publisher, fail for students. Apple is just a profit machine for content creators and evidently there are a lot of suckers who believe otherwise.

  • Re:What?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Quirkz ( 1206400 ) <ross&quirkz,com> on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:18PM (#38798579) Homepage
    I was going to say the same thing. They're really stretching with some of those claims, and cleverly neglecting some other aspects, like physical books don't crash or get data corruption, rarely get completely destroyed if you drop them or step on them, and until e-readers get a little more oomph I think traditional books are still easier to flip through rapidly.
  • by RobinEggs ( 1453925 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:27PM (#38798699)
    Irregardless isn't a word. Bonus points for using it while complaining about writing textbooks.
  • by WCLPeter ( 202497 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:29PM (#38798713) Homepage

    So until the University recommends those e-books, which they won't, it don't mean squat.

    It doesn't matter if the University recommends them or not because prior to this announcement if I wanted to learn University Level Physics I had to spend $250 bucks on the textbook, now I can buy a comparable textbook from iBooks for $15.00 and receive information updates for the life of that edition.

    Whether its a big deal in schools or not, though I really have a feeling this will be huge in the K-12 market, my desire to learn something isn't tied to expensive textbooks anymore. This is a good thing.

  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:30PM (#38798717)

    I'll happily give Apple their book lock-in all day long if it saves me a few grand on textbooks. Wouldn't you?

    No, I'm not so foolish as to dive head first into brand lock-in. I like having my books exist independent of one company's platform. Platform dependent books, who would have thought such nonsense would ever actually happen?

    This is a problem that needs to be solved, but doing it by being stuck forever on one company's platform because they're severely anti-competitive is just stupid.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:06PM (#38799069)

    But don't the colleges already have you locked in? "Buy this and this and this for the courses you've signed up for this semester".

    Now it's "Buy this and this and this, but you'll also need an ipad and those 'books' are tied to it and can't be used on any other platform." It's not like Apple has invented the ebook here, they're just trying to popularize the platform-specific ebook. Don't want an ipad? Too bad. They could have done it with an open format, or published their format, but of course that wouldn't allow them the lock-in they get with a closed format to which only their software can read and write...oh and for that software you need to buy their hardware.

  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:12PM (#38799139) Homepage

    Perhaps this is why text books are updated. English is a fluid language and changes over time, [], 2,070,000 results, quite significant for a non-word.

    Just straight shifting text books to computers is pretty pointless. The real idea is to create interactive tutorials and simulations backed up with reference material, typically reports covering specific subjects within a body of work that covers the topic. This more readily allows far broader input into the topic and avoids having thousands of text books covering the exact same material, in pretty much the same manner, with the only difference being the prejudices of the instructors.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:14PM (#38799165) Homepage

    "As an aside, I would like to note that reselling your books is a scam anyway."

    not really, I get a buttload of money from my wifes books every semester on, many times selling instantly for 80% of the purchase price, only a complete fool turns them into the bookstore.

  • by twotacocombo ( 1529393 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:32PM (#38799435)

    What do I tell people when asked what I do for a living? "Work with computers" or "IT department". Nobody really gives a crap about my "Computer Network Systems Engineering" degree. {------"IT Degree" is short for "I don't want to have to say that every time"

    Also, IT books from 6 years ago are still entirely relevant. A lot of my coursework was in Server 2003 and Cisco IOS environments, of which there are still thousands upon thousands of installs out in the field. We still use a system written in BBX that was just recently moved off of a SCO Unix machine. Just because technology marches on doesn't mean knowledge becomes irrelevant. On the contrary, the older and more scarce a technology becomes, the more valuable that knowledge becomes. I hear California was looking for some COBOL programmers recently :)

  • by MartinSchou ( 1360093 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:51PM (#38799619)

    Where can you buy other things distributed digitally (like music, movies and games), that you are allowed to resell later?

    This isn't an Apple issue. Well, it is an issue that includes Apple, but to put it forward as if only Apple only does this is disingenuous.

    Can you resell your Kindle ebooks?
    Can you resell your Steam games?
    Your Amazon music?
    Apps you've bought on Android store?

  • by Khashishi ( 775369 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:59PM (#38799689) Journal

    Your professor could probably publish the damn thing himself with today's software tools, thereby kicking the textbook industry in the nuts.

  • by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @10:19PM (#38800289) Homepage Journal

    That's because [ain't]'s also a word.

    It's an especially fun example of the futility of this sort of "peevery", since the peevers' campaign against "ain't" has had the effect of increasing its use.

    The original use of "ain't" many centuries ago was as the contraction for "am not". Now, you might wonder how "am"+"not" gives "ain't", and one answer is that it's the same process that turned "will"+"not" into "won't", which is every bit as silly. Human languages do silly things like that all the time. But the peevers don't seem to rant about "won't"; they only declared a pogrom against "ain't". And the result has been that the common speech in many dialects now also use "ain't" as the contraction for "is"+"not" and "are"+"not". It has become the general negative for all present tense forms of "be".

    But really, we should probably let the language peevers have their fun. At least they're not rounding up the ain't-sayers and burning them at the stake. They're just posting peeves in discussions like this, because to them the war against their favorite banned contraction is more important than, say, massive increases in availability and decreases in price for educational textboooks.

    Some people just have different value scales than the rest of us.

    I wonder if any of the newly-available electronic textbooks include linguistically valid histories or grammars of the English language?

  • by whisper_jeff ( 680366 ) on Monday January 23, 2012 @10:41PM (#38800433)

    ...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.

    No. You're not. You're misunderstanding the license restriction. The .ibooks file that iBooks Author creates can only be distributed through Apple. The book can be distributed any way you want. If you make a .ibooks file and sell it through Apple and garner some interest for a print version or a Kindle version or whatever, all you need to do is transfer the information to the new format and you can sell it.

    The restriction applies to the _file_ that iBooks Author creates, not the book that you write. And, given that Apple is the only company to publish software that can (currently) read a .ibooks file, that is a reasonable restriction.

    The key reason for the restriction is so that, should someone (such as a Cydia developer) create a program that can read .ibooks files, you cannot sell the .ibooks files created with iBooks Author on that store.

  • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @04:26AM (#38802415)

    Physical textbooks lack portability, durability, accessibility, consistent quality, interactivity and searchability, and they're not environmentally friendly."


    Oh wait, their serious.

    I still have textbooks from 1997,
    My boss has a textbook from 1956 (borrowed from a university library, hate to imagine what 56 years of late fees look like).
    My texbook gets rained on, 95% chance I can use it again.
    I have a pile of broken Ipads out the back, they aren't even 3 years old yet.

    Ipads have about 6-7 hours of usable battery life (yes fanboys, this is what they get under real world conditions, especially after the battery has gone through a few charge (read: abuse) cycles).
    Books dont run out of batteries and become unusable.

    Not Enviromentally Friendly:
    Right, we all know paper can be recycled right. Then made into new paper.
    Sustainable forestry, try looking it up.
    Ipads make more pollution when being made, then they continue to produce pollution whilst being used (they use electricity, producing electricity creates pollution).

    The green angle has to be the most laughable out of all of these. Especially with Apples reputation.

  • by MrMickS ( 568778 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @06:03AM (#38802781) Homepage Journal

    All of the many complaints about the 30% that Apple take for selling through their store are indignation based on ignorance of retail practices, this includes Pete Townsend. The publisher love that Apple only charge 30% because its far less than a normal retail channel. The publishers get more per sale electronically than they would selling physical books.

    To answer your second point did you watch the announcement or are you just letting your predjudice define your opinions. One of the most interesting parts of the announcement was that these books would be updated, for free, meaning that you would always have the latest version. I'm still getting updates to app purchases I made on my iPhone 3 years ago. There is no reason why this wouldn't be the case for textbooks.

    On your final point, rather than getting all high and mighty about it, just think about it. Why do you sell back your expensive textbooks? Partly because they are expensive. If they are cheap enough that you don't have to sell them back wouldn't it make sense to keep the book? I guess it depends on your view of education and knowledge. I view it as a life skill, something that you add to from year to year.

    In general your post, and its rating, are why I've stopped look at Slashdot as a place to influence my opinion. It is filled with small minded opinion based on the status quo. I thought as geeks we were supposed to embrace change and look to the future. As with a lot in the world it seems that this happens less and less as the years go by.

  • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @06:38AM (#38802987) Homepage Journal

    Of course it's a word. You can add all sorts of prefixes and suffixes to existing words, and they will still be "real" words.

    The problem here is that the word actually means the opposite of what the guy wanted to say.

    It's the same as all those idiots who say "I could give a [thing]" instead of "I couldn't give a [thing]" when they are trying to imply they don't care.

    They're not actually thinking about the words they're saying - they're just repeating a bunch of syllables that they've heard (or misheard) from someone else.

    I saw a thread about "ain't" below. I have no problem with contractions, and don't see why anybody should. They're adding to the language in a logical manner, rather than watering it down by rendering standard prefixes and suffixes meaningless.

A quarrel is quickly settled when deserted by one party; there is no battle unless there be two. -- Seneca