It seems fairly often that
Steve Jobs Apple brings out something that changes the face of the world – or at least what its face is pointed at – inexorably. They’re infrequently the first to do whatever it is that now has a lower-case letter “i” slapped on the front of the name, but they are typically the first ones to get it done the right way. For example: the tablet is finally done right with the iPad, after Microsoft tried to get manufacturers to figure out how to do it for most of the ’90s and ‘the noughties’; personal music players worked fine as cassette machines like the Walkman™, but it took the iPod to get the digital file format taking off; and the smartphone was clunky, awkward, and difficult to use for the acquisition of basic information until the introduction of the iPhone.
Thus, the iBook 2 (not to be confused with the PowerBook, which is an old Apple laptop model) now presents textbooks in a far better, cheaper, and easier distribution model. HOORAY! say I. This is one of the best applications of the eBook format, as it drops the cost of the most expensive part of the production cycle for text-books: printing. Most text books have, at the very least, graphs and charts as illustrations. Anything used for science and artistic pursuits have colour illustrations or photographs required to properly explain matters of any complexity, be they medical matters of the body, or painted representations of the body. This need for acceptable colour reproduction – while both less expensive and less complicated than even two decades ago – still requires a hefty increase in costs than if there were nary a graphic included. The fact that a text book typically requires up-dating two years after its release only adds to the necessity of developing a way to reduce costs as much as is possible. Thankfully, the eBook is the answer.
No doubt the tales I could tell of the cost of my Geography text books in the mid-1980s would be enthusiastically laughed at by today’s students, and I don’t wish to consider what the cost of them are today. But, given the charges for typical education at any level are increasingly beggaring those who administer the provision of learning today, at any level, the method of providing texts at a fraction of the cost to the student is welcome indeed.
This is not without some valid considerations, however. Is the so-called “walled garden of Apple” too limiting for the freedom-loving world of academia? Will university and college lecturers and Deans of study find they are no longer able to regulate themselves or exercise their creativity within the technological constraints placed upon them by DRM and geographic distribution agreements? Will the publishers find increased revenue from their titles, rather than what trickles of cash they get from the photocopying licenses for ‘course packs’ used in a majority of higher learning institutions?
Do publishers even have the balls to make the sea-change of their entire business-model to this new platform? Are they just in time to make it, or are they merely trying to sort out how to rearrange the deck chairs on a rapidly sinking ship? Do we even care?
Lastly, what of the printed book – whether a textbook or simply a novel – being released with an electronic copy as a bonus? When buying a DVD or Blu-Ray disc, one often gets a “Free Digital Copy” for use on one’s smartphone or tablet, so why not extend this to books also?
Would Atomic Fez readers wish to receive an eBook copy of the book they just purchased in paper format? I’ve often seen it as an either/or situation, mostly because I’ve seen eBooks as mostly a new reader market. Perhaps I’m wrong, though, and you want the option of having increased access to the book, as this means you can start reading on your iPhone the novel you left at home this morning. Let me know! Atomic Fez is here to help you enjoy reading more, as well as helping you enjoy more reading!
- “Apple Launches K-12 iPad Textbooks, New ‘iTunes U’ & Self-Publishing Platform”, PaidContent.org | CLICK HERE
- “Pearson Made $3 Billion From Digital Content Last Year”, PaidContent.org | CLICK HERE
- “Apple Move Will Spark Flurry off New Companies, Content in Education Market”, PaidContent.org | CLICK HERE
- “New Stats: 2011 Libraries’ Digital Check-Outs Up 133% Over 2010″, PaidContent.org | CLICK HERE
- “Do we want textbooks to live in Apple’s walled garden?”, GigaOM | CLICK HERE
- Confessions of a Publisher: “We’re in Amazon’s Sights and They’re Going to Kill Us”, PandoDaily.com | CLICK HERE
- “ECW Press Experiments with Free eBbooks for Print Customers”, Publishers Weekly | CLICK HERE
“This Week’s Fish Wrap” is an on-going series of posts summing up the news of the previous seven days in the publishing industry, and/or announce the latest news Atomic Fez has about the publishing house, and appears here each Monday. It’s also quite possible that the posts merely serve as a dumping ground of links so that Atomic Fez Proprietor Ian Alexander Martin can find articles later to include in his occasional rants about how ‘EVERYONE ELSE IS ENTIRELY WRONG’ about various things.