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ScrollMotion tapped by publishers to develop textbook apps for iPad

post #1 of 59
Thread Starter 
App developer ScrollMotion has inked deals with major textbook publishers to adapt textbooks for the transition to a digital classroom.

Scrollmotion, developer of the Iceberg reader app for the iPhone OS, has been in talks with major textbook companies to develop digital versions of their textbooks for use on devices such as the iPad. The Wall Street Journal reports that the publishers involved in the project include: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt K-12, which is a unit of Education Media & Publishing Group Ltd.; Pearson PLC's Pearson Education, and Washington Post Co.'s Kaplan Inc., known for its test-prep and study guides.

Maureen McMahon, president of Kaplan Publishing was reported as saying, "Nobody knows what device will take off, or which 'killer app' will drive student adaptations. Today they aren't reading e-textbooks on their laptops. But ahead we see all kinds of new instruction materials."

According to the article, ScrollMotion would take files provided by publishers and adapt them to fit on the iPad platform - adding enhancements such as search, dictionaries, glossaries, interactive quizzes, and page numbers.

Expanded features could include video, highlightable text, lecture recording, and note taking.

"People have been talking about the impact of technology on education for 25 years. It feels like it is really going to happen in 2010," reportedly said Rik Kranenburg, group president of higher education for the education unit of McGraw-Hill.

While Apple's intentions for the education market were not made clear during the iPad's unveiling last week, the WSJ piece states that according to those familiar with the iPad's development the device's role in education was a major point of discussion at Apple.

Apple is not a stranger to the education sector, its popular iTunes U service offers both audio and video content from colleges and universities from around the world.

Apple's iBook application and iBookstore, introduced alongside the iPad last week, allows users to purchase and download books from a variety of publishers. Highlighted in the presentation were HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hachette Book Group.
post #2 of 59
I would think that being able to take notes and highlight text are one of the most important things for a text book. It can't simply be a big pdf file. There needs to be some kind of overlay with a student notes and highlighted sections of the book.
post #3 of 59
Publishers will be unnecessary when they open up the ibookstore to independent authors with the same 70/30 split as the app store. The ipad is gonna be massive!
post #4 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoss View Post

Publishers will be unnecessary when they open up the ibookstore to independent authors with the same 70/30 split as the app store. The ipad is gonna be massive!

I think you grossly underestimate the amount of value added the publishers provide to their authors. I've just spent 10 months working with the editors on the *second edition* of my book. The amount of work they put into the book was phenomenal. Very few authors have the publishing, graphic arts, English (or other natural language), and marketing expertise to do everything themselves. Anyone who has looked over several "self-published" books knows what I'm talking about.

A good analogy is to compare quality-controlled commercial software against the many "freeware" or "shareware" offerings. Yes, you can find some horrible "quality-controlled" commercial software and you can find some great freeware offerings. But by and large, the commercial stuff is better.

This is particularly true for technical and other non-fiction texts.

I'm not saying you won't see a lot of self-published e-books. However, when they do start appearing, we're going to hear about how the glut of such books is akin to the glut of "fart" apps and other low-grade applications we see on the iPhone today.

I, for one, will continue to take my 15% from the publisher and let them invest heavily in the quality of the text.
post #5 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoss View Post

Publishers will be unnecessary when they open up the ibookstore to independent authors with the same 70/30 split as the app store. The ipad is gonna be massive!

So schools, universities etc., will just go with some random 'dudes' attempt at a textbook rather then a major publishing house? Well shit I better start writing a chemistry book!
post #6 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoss View Post

Publishers will be unnecessary ...

There's a difference between "publishers" and "printers." Publishers do the intellectual heavy lifting. Printers do the grunt work. Printers probably will decline as producers of a physical print/product and adapt (or die) as producers of digital print. This part of producing a readable product will just continue the man-hour decline from a physical press / type-setting to word processing type-setting to automated type-setting. The efficiency (price/time benefits) will be seen mostly here.
post #7 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamIIGS View Post

Well sh*t I better start writing a chemistry book!

Got your title already..


Cooking with Cheech and Chong: Second Edition

(cause the first edition went up in smoke)


If the publishers don't rent their books, they can kiss my...
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post #8 of 59
With out a doubt either Apple or a developer needs to come up way that a ipad user can markup a book. I'm going to order a couple of the new ipads (one for me and one for the wife) and I will definitely need this type of feature. I've been looking what's available with stylus and nothing yet seems like a winner. I also believe that students will need a good note taking application (along with the great stylus) for class. I have high hopes that Apple will solve these issues in the next few months.
post #9 of 59
Check out the rage [sic] reviews for Iceberg Reader in iTunes.
post #10 of 59
Marking-up and highlighting was already shown. Expect it to be there when textbooks appear on the iPad, along with probably everything else the average student needs for their textbooks.

A simple addition of a feature or two that most students need can make the difference between selling very few and quite a few textbooks.
post #11 of 59
Iceberg is great. Should be awsomer on the iPad
post #12 of 59
Such a complicated process to get textbooks into kids hands in the public sector. Board of education has to approve books, districts have to budget for them. With all the states that can't even offer laptops for their kids, I seriously doubt they're gonna have the money for iPads.

Lots of kids count on used book sales or getting books from older siblings, not sure how publishers are going to deal with that (especially with that comment I heard saying the books "expire" after a year). All-in-all seems like a huge cash-in for publishers who will probably cater to those wealthy enough to afford the iPad and kids who don't count on buying or selling used books. No way these publishers are going to take anything less than what they currently take in per book, so I'm not holding out much hope that prices go down if at all.
post #13 of 59
The iPad will initially come with OS 3.2 installed. How much will the upgrade to 4.0 cost?
post #14 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurt View Post

I would think that being able to take notes and highlight text are one of the most important things for a text book. It can't simply be a big pdf file. There needs to be some kind of overlay with a student notes and highlighted sections of the book.

"Expanded features could include video, highlightable text, lecture recording, and note taking."

what's the big deal? Apple's Preview Mac app already does all this and more!

*
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post #15 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoss View Post

Publishers will be unnecessary when they open up the ibookstore to independent authors with the same 70/30 split as the app store. The ipad is gonna be massive!

Publishers will be required, as always.

It takes a lot of money to publish a textbook, aside from printing costs. Often, a publisher commissions a text. Fact checking, proofing and so on are very important. Also, there must be artists to do graphics for charts and drawings. There must be photos, who's copyrights are gotten.

This isn't that simple.
post #16 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

Check out the rage [sic] reviews for Iceberg Reader in iTunes.

The Iceberg readers are just fine on the iPhone. There are always some who like to complain.
post #17 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by pixelcruncher View Post

Such a complicated process to get textbooks into kids hands in the public sector. Board of education has to approve books, districts have to budget for them. With all the states that can't even offer laptops for their kids, I seriously doubt they're gonna have the money for iPads.

Lots of kids count on used book sales or getting books from older siblings, not sure how publishers are going to deal with that (especially with that comment I heard saying the books "expire" after a year). All-in-all seems like a huge cash-in for publishers who will probably cater to those wealthy enough to afford the iPad and kids who don't count on buying or selling used books. No way these publishers are going to take anything less than what they currently take in per book, so I'm not holding out much hope that prices go down if at all.

Kids don't get textbooks from older siblings. Didn't you go to school? When did you take your book home at the end of the semester? Those books belong to the school, and must be returned.

This will be great for school systems. They have the bargaining power individuals don't have. They will get good deals for the books. Not only will students from K-6 be getting iPads instead of laptops, they'll be getting their books in there too. This will save school systems millions of dollars.

These are smaller, lighter, have better battery life, and include 801.n WiFi, which just about every school in the nation has.

Then when they come into school, they can plug them into the keyboard dock at their desk. No more need for a computer lab, because these are so small, and cheap.
post #18 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

The iPad will initially come with OS 3.2 installed. How much will the upgrade to 4.0 cost?

It should be zero. Remember, they changed the accounting for this.
post #19 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

The Iceberg readers are just fine on the iPhone. There are always some who like to complain.

Some => a very large fraction gave it 1 star.
post #20 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

It should be zero. Remember, they changed the accounting for this.

It should be non-zero, just as upgrades cost for the iPod touch. Just as for the iPod touch and unlike the iPhone, there is no subscription revenue stream for the iPad.
post #21 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

The iPad will initially come with OS 3.2 installed. How much will the upgrade to 4.0 cost?

The iPad currently has iPhone OS 3.2 installed, not OS 3.2. Who knows which version of the OS it will ship with. Many including I believe that it will ship with iPhone OS 4.0. So far, every upgrade and update of the iPhone OS from iPhone OS 1.0 to iPhone OS 3.1.3 has been free. I do not expect this to change.
post #22 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Kids don't get textbooks from older siblings. Didn't you go to school? When did you take your book home at the end of the semester? Those books belong to the school, and must be returned.

....

This is exactly right. The purchase and maintenance of textbooks are major expenses for school systems. Children who live in poor neighborhoods are often disadvantaged because their districts cannot afford to replace worn-out books. The iPad [and other ebook readers] will eliminate this expense. Schools will be able to issue ebook readers to each child with the child's textbooks preloaded. Would we also like to replace traditional desktop or laaptop computers with iPads?

There are certainly some issues to be worked out, but the iPad and its competitors can be a vanguard of educational equality enhancement at reduced cost.
post #23 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post

The iPad currently has iPhone OS 3.2 installed, not OS 3.2. Who knows which version of the OS it will ship with. Many including I believe that it will ship with iPhone OS 4.0.

I don't. Regardless, the question still exists of what major upgrades will cost for the iPad.

Quote:
So far, every upgrade and update of the iPhone OS from iPhone OS 1.0 to iPhone OS 3.1.3 has been free. I do not expect this to change.

I don't expect it to change for iPhone upgrades either. The iPod touch now has iPhone OS 3.1.3. Every major upgrade for the iPod touch, from 1.0 to 2.0 to 3.0, has cost $$ (unless hacked). Major upgrades for the iPad should be treated similarly to the iPod touch by Apple.
post #24 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post

I don't. Regardless, the question still exists of what major upgrades will cost for the iPad.



I don't expect it to change for iPhone upgrades either. The iPod touch now has iPhone OS 3.1.3. Every major upgrade for the iPod touch, from 1.0 to 2.0 to 3.0, has cost $$ (unless hacked). Major upgrades for the iPad should be treated similarly to the iPod touch by Apple.

Upgrades should cost nothing. You might remember, it was the accounting that caused Touch upgrades to cost $10. That's not longer the case with the new non-GAAP accounting rules in place.
post #25 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhyde View Post

..............
I'm not saying you won't see a lot of self-published e-books. However, when they do start appearing, we're going to hear about how the glut of such books is akin to the glut of "fart" apps and other low-grade applications we see on the iPhone today.

I, for one, will continue to take my 15% from the publisher and let them invest heavily in the quality of the text.

Yeah, I guess a lot of publishers are great. Like with music, a great producer can help making your music even better.
A big question though: what's the approval process gonna be like?
Is someone at iBookStore gonna be reading the whole book before deciding if it's fit or not for the store? Like if Al Qaida released a book on "how to effectively bring down the US in 50 years", would it be published?
Or regular weekly magazines that clearly infridges the privacy of a lot of people, like actors, musicians, politicians etc.
Or just a news paper that has to be produced one day, then submitted for distribution by midnight, and out for sale at 4 a.m. Not ALL news papers have the means to make their own news apps with in-app-purchases.
There has to be _NO_ approval process once you are an "approved publisher".
post #26 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Upgrades should cost nothing. You might remember, it was the accounting that caused Touch upgrades to cost $10. That's not longer the case with the new non-GAAP accounting rules in place.

That accounting rule only applied in the US, why did they charge for the iPod Touch upgrades internationally?
post #27 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by palegolas View Post

Yeah, I guess a lot of publishers are great. Like with music, a great producer can help making your music even better.
A big question though: what's the approval process gonna be like?
Is someone at iBookStore gonna be reading the whole book before deciding if it's fit or not for the store? Like if Al Qaida released a book on "how to effectively bring down the US in 50 years", would it be published?
Or regular weekly magazines that clearly infridges the privacy of a lot of people, like actors, musicians, politicians etc.
Or just a news paper that has to be produced one day, then submitted for distribution by midnight, and out for sale at 4 a.m. Not ALL news papers have the means to make their own news apps with in-app-purchases.
There has to be _NO_ approval process once you are an "approved publisher".

Likely the same way they do with the thousands of books on the site now. They haven't done much with them.

Publishers have control over what they publish.

As far as public personna goes, they know what that's all about. It's not nearly as much as an invasion as you think. Often the publicity person tells people where they'll be so that the "surprised" photo's can be taken.

Every company won't have to make their own apps. There are companies that specialize in that.
post #28 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by jfanning View Post

That accounting rule only applied in the US, why did they charge for the iPod Touch upgrades internationally?

It's a US company, subject to US accounting rules no matter where their products are sold.
post #29 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

It's a US company, subject to US accounting rules no matter where their products are sold.

No, I think you will find they have subsideries around the world that are subject to local accounting laws.
post #30 of 59
[QUOTE=Mr. Me;1565311]This is exactly right. The purchase and maintenance of textbooks are major expenses for school systems. Children who live in poor neighborhoods are often disadvantaged because their districts cannot afford to replace worn-out books. The iPad [and other ebook readers] will eliminate this expense. Schools will be able to issue ebook readers to each child with the child's textbooks preloaded. Would we also like to replace traditional desktop or laaptop computers with iPads?

The districts, that cannot afford to replace worn-out books, can afford to send iPads home with all their students. Ya right.
post #31 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Kids don't get textbooks from older siblings. Didn't you go to school? When did you take your book home at the end of the semester? Those books belong to the school, and must be returned.

This will be great for school systems. They have the bargaining power individuals don't have. They will get good deals for the books. Not only will students from K-6 be getting iPads instead of laptops, they'll be getting their books in there too. This will save school systems millions of dollars.

These are smaller, lighter, have better battery life, and include 801.n WiFi, which just about every school in the nation has.

Then when they come into school, they can plug them into the keyboard dock at their desk. No more need for a computer lab, because these are so small, and cheap.

This is so right on... on so many levels!

My grandkids (10, 11 1/2, 14) in grammer and middle schools have backpacks weighing 10-26 lbs. Seriously, some middle school students use those luggage caddys with wheels to drag their backpacks around campus

The first high school computer lab was installed in June 1980 at Saratoga HS, Saratoga CA -- 7 Apple ][ computers networked to a single 5 MB hard disk that stored all the apps and data.

It is amazing how little HS computer labs have changed in 30 years.

The iPad changes everything for this audience.

The Public school systems should get enough savings with electronic texts that they could make it worth the students (and their parents) while to have an iPad. Special financial needs could be addressed on an individual basis (at a savings over cost of physical media).

The districts could solicit bids for n copies of m electronic texts based on the district population.

There would be no issuing, returning, warehousing, replacing lost books.

The benefits to the students are many-- convenience, portability, availability, relevance (up to date material)...

Gone are the days, of:

--I forgot/lost my book (or left it at grandmas)
--I didn't get the assignment

to be replaced with: "The dog ate my iPad".

No worry-- here's an iPad you can use until you replace yours-- take a moment to download all your texts, homework, notes, etc... There, wasn't that simple?

Oh, BTW, that physical computer lab has been replaced with several electronic alternatives that are always with you, at your fingertips. You want to learn CS? Easy! just connect to the Lab of choice or any of the iTunes universities.

...the mind boggles with the potential!

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post #32 of 59
i think textbooks are vital to the success of the ipad, im a student and sometimes i delay my work just so i dont have to turn back to the last place i left my books, heck yesterday didnt do my english hw because my textbook and binder were locked in the class room , this would never happen if i had an ipad with all my texts and novels saved on it. also it would boost sales for apple i mean new people have to make an apple account to buy new books right? after the account is made it is really tempting to buy apps and music, its litterally a tap away. maybe there doesnt have to be an ability to pass on but at least a lower price vs print to promote them, beacause if they cost the same the only real benefit of the ipad is size and weight, something most students arent willing to pay 500+book prices vs just book prices and carring them

almost forgot, they are vital because it would put more units in the hands of consumers, more people with ipads means more money for apple to make better second generation ipads , then when a second generation ipad comes out a person can just sell their ipad to a younger person with all the books loaded already, use the money + some saving for a new ipad, the same way some people buy used books every year and some people buy new books every year
post #33 of 59
Wonder if there will be an education discount on the iPad.

Would also be great if local school boards did not have to fund the purchases themselves, the over all savings to the states could still be enormous in the long run.

Still I worry about how long such a device might last in the hands of a young child. Or a frat boy.
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post #34 of 59
Sounds great K- 12 iPad! Question is how tough are the iPad's and will they hold up to some kid tossing it in his back pad? And how many inner city kids would be allow to take one home? Let alone be able to get one in their schools? Great Utopian dream, but society just not that nice! Lastly Apple, Publisher, Educators and School boards... Talking about the 'The taming of the Shrew's.'

May be each child/family could paid $50 etc for insurance for the iPad! Which is another can of worms. \
post #35 of 59
After seeing all the publishers running to follow McMillen and increase their ebook prices, what makes us think that their textbooks will be any cheaper than the paper copies?
post #36 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheShepherd View Post

...

The districts, that cannot afford to replace worn-out books, can afford to send iPads home with all their students. Ya right.

So you are saying that you have no idea how much paper textbooks cost to purchase and to manage?

Look. There are reasons for not replacing traditional laptop and desktop computers with iPads, but doing so will create substantial savings. Yes, right.
post #37 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post

So you are saying that you have no idea how much paper textbooks cost to purchase and to manage?

Look. There are reasons for not replacing traditional laptop and desktop computers with iPads, but doing so will create substantial savings. Yes, right.

How many of these iPads will be broken or better yet stolen by others. Textbooks aren't too much in demand in the general public but young kids with iPads will be targets in many areas. Maybe in HS or college it makes sense.
post #38 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by palegolas View Post

Yeah, I guess a lot of publishers are great. Like with music, a great producer can help making your music even better.
A big question though: what's the approval process gonna be like?
Is someone at iBookStore gonna be reading the whole book before deciding if it's fit or not for the store? Like if Al Qaida released a book on "how to effectively bring down the US in 50 years", would it be published?
Or regular weekly magazines that clearly infridges the privacy of a lot of people, like actors, musicians, politicians etc.
Or just a news paper that has to be produced one day, then submitted for distribution by midnight, and out for sale at 4 a.m. Not ALL news papers have the means to make their own news apps with in-app-purchases.
There has to be _NO_ approval process once you are an "approved publisher".

You mean, like the "Anarchist's Cookbook?"
Though Apple could get away with refusing to publish porn, I suspect that other censorship with bring a hailstone of fire down upon them. Then again, it's not like they're too concerned about that, anyway.
post #39 of 59
[QUOTE=TheShepherd;1565355]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post

This is exactly right. The purchase and maintenance of textbooks are major expenses for school systems. Children who live in poor neighborhoods are often disadvantaged because their districts cannot afford to replace worn-out books. The iPad [and other ebook readers] will eliminate this expense. Schools will be able to issue ebook readers to each child with the child's textbooks preloaded. Would we also like to replace traditional desktop or laaptop computers with iPads?

The districts, that cannot afford to replace worn-out books, can afford to send iPads home with all their students. Ya right.

... and you might add that the abuse that leads to worn-out books will quickly destroy those iPads.
post #40 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheShepherd View Post

After seeing all the publishers running to follow McMillen and increase their ebook prices, what makes us think that their textbooks will be any cheaper than the paper copies?

Sad but true fact: the cost of textbooks usually has little to do with the printing costs. Most textbooks (and non-bestsellers) don't sell in the millions of copies to get economies of scale working for them. Publishers have to recoup some *very large* up front costs (editing, copy editing, technical reviewing, artwork, etc.) before the used book market (from which they receive nothing) eats them alive. Yes, if you've got a book that's used in all the classrooms in some particular state, you're doing really well. But keep in mind that such "hits" are just like the music industry -- you get one of those for every thousand failures. The sad fact is that the publishers *have* to cover the cost of the failures with the profits made by the "hits". Printing costs are the same for hits and failures, but amortized up-front costs are much greater for the failures.

The main issue that will force lower-priced ebooks is the fact that you'll be able to "rent" them (say for a term or a year) and there won't be a used book market killing sales of the text. Effectively, you'll be "selling the book back to the bookstore" when you rent the ebook, and that's where the savings will come in (still a good deal for the student). If publishers *can* eliminate used book sales, you *might* see a lowering of textbook prices**; but we'll have to see about that.


** For people who don't realize this, used book sales are the #1 reason why textbooks (at the college level, anyway) are so expensive. The publisher has to make all their profits in one or two terms because most of the sales will be used book sales after that.
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