OK, so Apple launched its new authoring platform for iBooks which is supposed to revolutionize eTextBooks. I’m not sure the revolution is fully realized yet, but this would appear to move us in the right direction. We might be at or near step two of three in the near-term evolution of eTextBooks, which I see as:
- Textbooks transliterated for reading in eReaders. Basically, the benefit here is that students can stop carrying around those insanely heavy backpacks. Downsides include lack of ability to notate or highlight, or clumsy ways of doing these things.
- eTexts have rich media, ability to notate, some social/sharing component, and include a mechanism for backing up texts and associated meta-data.
- All of the above, but platform independent.
From the demo in link above, it looks like rich media and notating are fairly well developed, but I’m waiting to see what social components there are, if any, and how easily they back up meta-data. I’m also a bit turned off by Apple’s continued monopolism (see a discussion here about the controls on content development for the iBook).
MBS Direct has supposedly finally ironed out their web-based reader, and I will report back here after I have been able to test that (in the next couple of weeks). My problem with web-based readers is that, although they are platform independent, they require an internet connection when you want to access content (barring an “offline” mode which they may have or might develop).
Please comment below with thoughts on where eTexts are heading, what you are using, what you would like to see…