Apple Launches Digital Textbooks, but Amazon May Enjoy the Boost
Last week Apple announced a new version of its digital bookstore that will sell textbooks through its iBooks digital bookstore for use on the iPad. These aren’t just textbooks either; but they’re chopped full of other offerings such as quizzes, study cards, and other interactive features. This was reported in the January 20th Wall Street Journal article “Apple Jumps Into Textbooks.”
The digital textbooks would sell through iBooks for $15; which is considerably cheaper than the average textbook price of $75. Why would the publishers agree to this much-reduced price? The reason is textbooks, on average, have about a five year life. A student buys it new for $75, and then resells it back to bookstores or other students; where they use it and resell it – and so it goes. Publishers only make money on the first sale of the textbook when it’s “new.” All the sales after that are pocketed by students or bookstores – whoever sells the book.
Under the Apple textbook sales model, each student would buy the textbook from the publisher and load it on their iPad. Since it’s on the iPad and not a book, there’s no sharing, no reselling, no giving it away to the next student. Each student needs to buy the textbook for each class, so the textbook publishers figure they’ll make about the same amount of money since every single student will now need to buy from the publisher every single time they need a book.
This is an interesting development that everyone who’s gone to college and bought that “Biology 101” textbook for the “bargain purchase price of $125” welcomes. What’s really interesting is the second story on this topic.
The same day the Wall Street Journal reported on Apple’s textbook launch, there was another story: “Apple Kindles Textbook War.”Continued on the next page