3 min read

Apple Sets its Sights on the eTextbook Market

On January 19th, Apple set off shockwaves in the educational publishing world when it unveiled its new iBooks 2 software platform. The latest version of iBooks made headlines because it represents Apple’s initial foray into the world of eTextbooks.

Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, made the company’s ambitions crystal clear during his remarks at the Guggenheim Museum in New York: “We want to reinvent the textbook,” said Schiller. He explained that all eTextbooks sold through the new iPad app are priced at $14.99 or less, a huge contrast to the high-priced paper books that currently fill college bookstores.

Apple’s announcement of their entry into the eTextbook market – in which they are initially partnering with leading publishers Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin – has created a wave of speculation as to what it means for everyone involved in the textbook market. What is clear is that it will create a surge in the adoption of the iPad, which will put it further ahead of its rivals in the tablet space. More importantly, Apple’s move has raised the bar by addressing users directly with the creation of a highly rich and interactive reading experience at a low price point.

Just as the emergence of the Kindle accelerated the adoption of eBooks for the trade publishing market, we see this initiative as having a massive positive impact on the adoption of eTextbooks within the student community. Publishers now have a huge opportunity to enhance their content and optimize their delivery to the iPad, thereby tapping into the fastest growing market in 2012.

We anticipate that there will be a surge in demand by publishers to create rich textbooks in the iBookstore and to scale production cost-effectively. We also believe that publishers who create iBooks 2 will want the same functionality across all other mobile devices. Moreover, Apple’s announcement will create another significant channel for eBook sales. Publishers should look to be present in all possible sales channels and continue to build direct relationships with their end users by delivering their eBooks through their own platforms – ideally, platforms that are mobile device agnostic.

In response to this rapidly emerging growth opportunity for publishers, we will soon be announcing a comprehensive service offering for publishers who are seeking to leverage this additional channel on the iBookstore. We believe that our 10 years of experience building eTextbooks and related multimedia applications for book publishers ideally position Impelsys to support iBooks authors and publishers so they can realize the full potential of this new software.

This is an extremely significant initiative by Apple and represents a tremendous opportunity for publishers globally. For more information on our thoughts regarding iBooks 2, our services and how we can help you, please email me at sshariff@impelsys.com.