I like my iPad but a major hurdle to the wide spread adoption of tablets in schools is the availability of e-textbooks. I know there are some cool text books apps out there and I’m very curious to see what Inkling,CourseSmart, and even Amazon are going to do in this space. But nice apps are useless without content: when I search for Algebra I in your course catalog I want three or four choices, just like I have with text books made out of dead trees.
Which of the major text book companies is going to be first to pony up and offer their entire catalog as e-textbooks? Why haven’t any of them done this yet?
Hey I know, maybe it’s so complex a process that it’s too expensive to do. We’re not just talking about the text of a book, we also want pictures, videos and other interactive content after all. Well I set out to try a little experiment, how hard would it be for me, using consumer grade technology, to create a chapter of an e-textbook that included text, chapters, photos, and video? Here you go:
As it turns out it’s not difficult at all, I worked for about a half an hour and produced a passable chapter from an e-textbook. Actually the hardest part was taking out the footnotes from Wikipedia. I wouldn’t want to sell it or anything, I don’t like how the photos wrapped and I didn’t get the captions to work well, but here you can even download it and see for yourself what you think.
So why aren’t the major publishers creating e-textbooks? What do you think? Let us know in the comments.