In our CEO George Lossius’s Top 5 trends for academic publishing in 2013, he predicted a shake-up of the textbooks market. Less than a month into the new year and we’re already seeing some developments in the electronic textbook and learning materials space starting to take shape. In some cases trends in textbook publishing are already having a ripple effect on other parts of the publishing industry.
For example iBooks Author was launched by Apple in early 2012 as a bid to disrupt the textbooks market by democratising production. The idea floated at launch was that with a user-friendly tool like iBooks, teachers could start authoring their own textbooks. Fast forward a year and while there’s very little data to indicate a grassroots revolution in classroom learning materials, it seems the tool is being eagerly taken up by trade publishers. Just this week Random House Digital announced that it had used iBooks Author to develop Know The Score, a multi-touch accompaniment to a book by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.
Meanwhile textbook publishing giant McGraw Hill Education made its first major announcement after being acquired by a private equity group late last year with Smartbook. Launched at CES in Las Vegas Smartbook is positioned as an adaptive e-textbook that also acts as a virtual teacher, with coaching elements layered on top of textbook content in order to improve the learning experience. Smartbook programmes are slated to be available from Spring 2013 across several technology platforms with prices starting at $19.99.
Finally another leading textbook publisher SAGE Publications is also re-imagining the textbook as a cross-platform experience with its MobileStudy project, which will allow students to access revision materials via their smartphones using QR codes. While presenting on this innovation at Futurebook in London in December 2012, SAGE indicated that the mobile focus had been driven by research showing that 35% of US college students now own a smartphone, with a further 20% saying they intended to buy an iPhone in the next 12 months.
SAGE’s full presentation is now available on Slideshare and well worth viewing if you’d like to take a closer look at how one publisher is re-imagining the textbook in 2013.