Apple is set to dive headfirst into the education marketplace with Thursday's introduction of iBooks 2 for the iPad, which textbook manufacturers say will result in the "reinvention of the textbook."
Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said the iPad already has more than 20,000 education apps and more than 1.5 million iPads are in use by schools nationwide. The iBooks 2 app update is available now on the iTunes App Store.
The computing giant teamed with major textbook publishers such as McGraw Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, who make up more than 90 percent of the American textbook market.
New e-textbooks will feature movies, integration with databases such as LexisNexis and interactive problems. Students will also be able to take digital, in-line notes and create "study cards" using book text.
"These are beautiful books. Interactive, gorgeous, fun, engaging," Schiller said at the announcement event.
Bethlam Forsa, executive vice president of product development at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt says the company has many of its hardcopy textbooks in development for iPad release before the beginning of next school year. The company already has released some of its high school math books for the iPad, but Forsa says the new iBooks will increase the level of interactivity of e-textbooks.
"iBooks have been fairly unengaging products," she says. With the new iBooks, companies are "able to take advantage of the interactivity of the device. It's a reinvention of the textbook."
Apple also announced iBooks Author, a publishing app that will allow users to create their own books on the iPad using built-in templates, along with a series of new online courses created by universities such as Duke, Yale and Stanford. Students will be able to stream lecture videos, complete assignments and communicate with professors.