It’s no surprise that colleges make huge amounts of money selling textbooks. Textbook publishers keep changing editions to keep students from relying on used textbooks, which publishers can’t profit from. Of course, textbooks are getting too expensive and out of date, so now textbooks have to turn to the world of e-books for lower costs and more timely updates.
Right now there seem to be two approaches to textbooks. Apple’s iBooks Author is geared towards creating new textbooks from scratch that include interactivity with audio and video content. On the other hand, Amazon is targeting existing textbooks with their new Kindle Textbook Creator program.
The idea behind Kindle Textbook Creator is to take existing PDF files of existing textbooks and add limited amounts of interactivity to them such as allowing students to jot down notes, highlight text, and create flashcards from the textbook’s material.
Apple is betting on new interactive textbooks while Amazon is betting on turning existing textbooks into interactive e-books. Whether one or both approaches will succeed is still up in the air, but the fact that both Apple and Amazon are moving towards interactive e-books shows that both companies see that as the future. Heavy, expensive, and obsolete textbooks are definitely no longer the future.
Try downloading and using both iBooks Author and Kindle TextBook Creator since they’re both free. The iBooks Author program only runs on a Macintosh but Kindle Textbook Creator can run on a Macintosh or Windows.
The future is interactive e-books in one form or another. For fiction, there’s little need for interactivity, but for nonfiction, interactivity will separate e-books from traditional printed books.
Anyone remember when early movies were basically filmed versions of stage plays? Today’s e-books are basically digital versions of printed books. When movies started taking advantage of their freedom from a fixed stage, that’s when movies started demonstrating their versatility. E-books will follow that same trajectory so you can either latch on to a rising trend today or sink into obsolescence like used bookstores. The choice is yours.