iBooks Textbooks: Apple's New Billion-Dollar Business
NEWS ANALYSIS: Apple is making a calculated, and possibly very lucrative, move into the education market with iBooks 2, iBooks Author, iBooks textbooks and iTunes U app. Will Google and Microsoft follow suit?In the United States, there are 55.5 million kids in K-12 and another 11.5 million students in two-year or four-year colleges, according to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. With an average of four textbooks per student, that's close to 67 million textbooks sold a year. At an average of $25 per book, that's a nice $2 billion a year market. For more than 100 years, textbooks have all been printed on paper and have all been "static"-what you see is what you get. No animation. No embedded video. No way to interactively test and check your answers. Then, in 2009, Apple launched the iPad. The company has sold more than 30 million of them, with about 1.5 million of these tablets finding their way into the education market. The first textbooks that came out on the iPad were simply digital versions of same "static" textbooks. The only real advantage was that the digital textbooks weighed less than printed ones.
To become more valuable in the education system, digital textbooks have to migrate from "static" to "active," in which authors embed animation to show, for example, factoring in algebra or a video to explain the solar system.