From Printed Textbooks To iPads

Posted on 1/24/2012 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

In an effort to go after a share of the $15 billion educational textbook market Apple Inc. has launched iBooks2 software with an aim to quicken the adoption of the iPad in the educational market. The company has been working with Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to produce digital textbooks that can be delivered on the iPad. Currently, these three companies are responsible for 90% of the textbooks sold in the US.
The early plan is to enable students to buy their textbooks directly from Apple rather than receiving them from their school district. High school textbooks will be priced at $14.99 each in the pilot launch. This is significantly less than today’s price of most printed textbooks and offers the advantage of a range of interactive features in these educational materials. Publishers have agreed that Apple will receive a percentage (believed to be 30%) of each sale.

This system may benefit school districts suffering from budget deficits. Now it may be easier to transfer the cost of educational materials from the school district (supported by taxes) directly to the parents. One of the questions still unresolved is whether a cheaper version of the iPad will be introduced or how iBooks software will be made available to poorer students.

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller says there are already 1.5 million iPads in use in education. "You'll see textbooks for every subject for every level," he added.
Apple has also released iBooks Author, a new free application available on the Mac App Store which enables anyone to create a book. Apple also re-introduced its iTunes U service as a standalone app, with up to 100 complete university online courses from colleges including Yale and Duke.

"Now with iBooks 2 for iPad, students have a more dynamic, engaging, and truly interactive way to read and learn, using the device they already love," said Schiller.

iBooks Author may also be widely used for professional books.

Things For Photographers To Consider

The goal of converting completely from print books to electronic will not be simple. Getting all stake holders to buy into this change will be very difficult, but image content suppliers should take note and begin adapting to what could be the new reality in educational publishing.

1 – The three major publishers are likely to continue to dominate this new environment.

2 – Titles will be constantly modified and updated. Determining when an image has been removed from a title, or actual circulation of any image, will be very difficult.

3 – Because circulation will be harder to track using it as a basis for establishing usage may become unworkable. Over the last decade we have discovered that publishers have been unwilling to abide by contracts or pay based on actual usage.

4 – Charging less for electronic usage must be stopped immediately. In the not too distant future electronic will be the primary use with print being secondary.

5 – Term limits for electronic use must be shortened. Licensing for unlimited electronic use with no understanding of how long the image might be used gives away massive rights for a minimal fee. Already, significant use of many images that will still be widely used a decade or more in the future has been given away.

6 – In the electronic environment there will be a transition toward using more audio visual material and fewer still images. If a picture is one of 30 in a 60 second audio visual presentation does it have the same value or importance as a picture that is the lead illustration of an electronic chapter?

7 – The industry may need a two tier system with one price for major publishers whose content is widely adopted, and another for minor, niche publishers that publish narrowly focused specialized products.
8 – Authors will find it easier to publish specialized educational material aimed at niche markets, but will be frustrated when it comes to licensing rights to content because there is no established pricing system that will deal with their issues.

9 – Students will be given easy access to a database of images to use in reports. Encyclopaedia Britannica has developed one system. Other systems will certainly follow.

These issues are not theoretical problems. They requires immediate attention if image sellers expect to receive reasonable compensation for their work in the future.

Copyright © 2012 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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