Could Apple's New ITextbooks Really Save You Money?

Textbooks are one of the major costs (besides tuition) for college students. Within the last decade textbooks rental companies have sprung up, alleviating some of the dependence on college bookstores and their expensive wares. Now that Apple has announced their new iTextbook app, will it add to student savings or make them take a financial hit?

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Spock Might Be Jealous

Okay, we've all seen Star Trek or another futuristic movie where the characters carry around technologically advanced tablets that contain everything about everything. Whether it's scanning a body for infection or acting as a remote spaceship starter, we're slowly coming closer to making that fantasy future a reality. With new technology booming, it was only a matter of time before someone connected textbooks to the digital age.

What are iTextbooks?

Yes, Apple has introduced us to another iProduct, as synonymous to Apple as Mc is to McDonalds. In the very beginning of 2012, Apple announced that they would be releasing their new iBooks2 app, which includes iTextbooks capabilities. These textbooks will be similar to other e-books but will be interactive and used in the classroom.

The Benefits

Minimal Cost

You'll first need to acquire the iBooks2 app, which is free in the app store. From there you'll buy each textbook as you would an e-book or a song on iTunes. While most textbooks will have a price, the majority of them will never be above $15. That's quite a drop from bookstore costs, where many technical texts cost over $100 each. Also, every time an author updates a book, you can download the update for free - meaning there's no need to buy a new edition because a few sentences were changed.

Free Author Program

To make textbooks available quickly to students, Apple is including the iBooks Author program for free so that anyone can create books for the iPad. This means that your professors can put textbook notes and learning plans into iTextbooks. They can also put their own books into the iBooks store, which means you won't have to buy their published works. Professors can also insert additional visual aids or anything else they think is important.

It's Interactive

Possibly one of the most unique features for iTextbooks is that they are interactive. Authors can insert visual aids, exercises and 3D diagrams into the pages of the book. Students will also be able to take notes by highlighting a section and then typing in a reminder or thought for themselves. These can then be organized and are easy to retrieve. This can save on additional notebook, note card and computer costs.

The Negatives

Cost

The number one problem with this new idea is that you'll need an iPad. Like any other Apple gadget (or computer for that matter), the iPad updates constantly. If you buy one for your future student now, it may not even be up-to-snuff in just a few years. That's how this all began - this will be a part of the newly updated iBooks app. Plus, iPads are as expensive as a laptop (as of January 2012, the iPad 2 started at $499).

Lack of College Textbooks

You read it right; there may be a lack of books. Although large publishing companies like Houghton Mifflin are trying to speed the digitization process up, it could be years before iTextbooks can offer a good selection. In fact, Apple seems to be focusing their efforts on primary and secondary school books, not college texts. Over time the selection will grow, but guinea pig students in higher ed may find this system lacking.

Too New To Evaluate

This app is still in the infant stage of creation, so it's very difficult to decide how much money you'll really save. Will teachers be more likely to use the author program or only large publishing companies? Will costs rise over time? Will colleges endorse this program and consequently offer large discounts on iPads (which will then become classroom necessities)? Will teachers be more likely to use textbooks available here or ignore this opportunity? Only time will tell.

Now that you know how to save money on textbooks, find other ways to get books from the open library.

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