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Analysts: 90,000 have downloaded iBooks Author since Thursday

Apple plans higher education revolution

Screenshot of iBooks Author from Apple

Steve Jobs’ plans to take on the textbook market appear to be working. In the three days after the Thursday launch of Apple iBooks Author software for iPads, more than 90,000 users downloaded it.

On top of that, more than 350,000 textbooks were downloaded from its new textbook category in iBooks, which started selling textbooks from major publishers priced at $14.99 or less.

Apple hasn’t revealed any official numbers yet, so Mashable warns that the figures, from Global Equities Research, are unconfirmed.

Still, the iBooks Author software represents the biggest opportunity for a shakeup in the textbook market long dominated by expensive publishers.

E-textbooks have saved students some money in recent years, but not as much as anticipated. Publishers argue that’s because much of the expense is in paying authors for content, rather than costs for printing or distribution, which can be nearly eliminated with e-texts.

But iBooks Author makes it easy for educators to create and share their own electronic content, for free or for low prices. Professors, anyone really, can build textbooks using templates that include multimedia content. They can publish their creations in iBookstore or export them using PDFs.

iBooks Author isn’t the first example of how professors are embraced iPads in the classroom. There are more than 20,000 education-related applications already available for the iPad.

LectureTools is one such application that is already being used in dozens of classrooms at the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.

LectureTools allows professors to present slides that show up on every student’s iPad or laptop, while students can annotate the slides, collaborate on visual problems and ask a questions anonymously as they go. It also allows students to participate in their classes remotely.

The $519 starting price of the iPad 2 could be viewed as an obstacle to any textbook revolution. But at $14.99 or less for new e-textbooks, students could end up saving money if they no longer need any paper texts. Paper texts can cost students more than $100 apiece or $1,000 per year.

Before his death on Oct. 5, 2011, Apple founder Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he believed he could disrupt the $8-billion-a-year textbook industry, reports the Los Angeles Times.

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