Apple Brings Major Publishers Into iBooks Fold
Traditional publishers will also have a role in this "active" textbook market. Apple announced that three major publishers-Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill and Pearson-will support creating and distributing iBooks textbooks through the iBookstore. Publishers already have relationships with most of the authors. Publishers will most likely become the primary users of iBooks Author to help textbook authors prepare the final product that will be distributed through the iBookstore.iBooks textbooks provide students with highlighting, note-taking, searching, definitions, lesson reviews and study cards. Apple also announced an iTunesU app that supports teachers in creating courses using iBookstore and the Apple App Store. This enables Apple to have a role in the creation of textbooks through iBooks Author, to distribute them through partnerships with publishers, and to integrate them into courses supporting the teachers and educational administrators who are responsible for delivering education to their students. Online resources such as Khan Academy's video lectures will still provide assistance to the overall education process. Google and Microsoft will likely follow suit at some point, creating an ecosystem for education based on their platforms. Apple has focused on education for decades, but this could give the company a significant lead in the mobile education market. What will be really exciting is to see what extent Apple's introduction of its mobile educational ecosystem (iBooks Author, iBookstore, relationship with publishers and iTunes U app) will have on the educational process. I commend Apple for creating this exciting environment for education. I can't wait to see some of the great interactive iBooks textbooks that educational textbook authors and publishers create using these new tools. I suspect that we'll see the definition of "learning" altered over the coming years to be more about being able to ask good questions and finding answers and less about remembering facts and figures. Students used to have to do the math by hand in tests and memorize dates in history, but now they are allowed to use calculators. Before too long, tests will be given on tablets like the iPad, and students will have the ability to find the answers without having to pick up a pencil.
If the publisher puts the title in the iBookstore, then the publisher is the one that receives the distribution of net revenue from Apple. Thus, the publishers will get to share in the revenue created through the iBooks textbook market through their contracts with authors splitting negotiated revenue from Apple. Individual authors can also use iBooks Author to develop and publish their own books, but they will then be in charge of marketing the title to the target audience.