The annual back-to-school textbook run, which leaves students hundreds (or thousands) of dollars poorer and stooped beneath lead-weight backpacks, may be a thing of the past. Earlier today, Apple released the free iBooks 2 app for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Unlike the original iBooks app, which sold fiction, nonfiction, and poetry titles, iBooks 2 will also offer textbooks, which will all be priced at $14.99 or less.
Apple hopes that the affordability of the textbooks will only be part of their appeal, stating that the iBooks textbook allows for increased user engagement with enhanced searchability, highlighting, note-taking, 3-D diagrams, and interactive galleries. Some of the e-textbooks will also provide questionnaires and instant flashcards of key terms.
Pearson, McGraw Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt — who, combined, are responsible for 90% of textbooks sold in the U.S. — are already slated to sell their educational products through iBooks 2. Apple estimates that 1.5 million iPads are currently used in schools.