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Traditional Textbooks: Are they on the Brink of Extinction?

Guest post written by Mariana Ashley.

For years, the knowledge that resides within the bound pages of paper textbooks has helped students grow into successful doctors, lawyers and fellow educators. But if Apple has anything to say about it, tangible textbooks will get the boot indefinitely --and in the wings waiting to take its place? It's digital counterpart, electronic textbooks.

While a small selection of e-textbooks have been available since the invention of the iPad and competing tablets, Apple recently teamed up with textbook giants McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to release iBooks 2 --an updated iPhone and iPad app introduced in late January that not only offers an extended selection of textbooks, but also boasts features that can help stimulate the learning and teaching experience even further. Students and professors can view interactive images, embedded video, and have access to additional study aid tools. While the app mostly targets students enrolled in K-12, college students will have a large selection of e-textbooks to choose from as well, most of which are $14.99 or less. And since according to the College Board the average college student attending a 4-year public university spent $1,168 on books and supplies in 2011-12 school year alone, this price may seem pretty appealing.

The tech company also announced the launch of iBooks Author, a new app designed to give educators the power to do much more than just create lectures available for download --they can actually create their own e-textbooks with video and imported text included.

Collectively these two apps are a huge game changer in the way students learn and how educators instruct --maybe that's why Apple sold 350,000 textbooks within just the first three days of the app's release, according to analysts.

While totally switching over to e-textbooks won't happen overnight --after all schools need to equip students with iPads first-- it could be a very promising investment if schools do in fact choose to adopt vast amounts of iPads for the classroom. Why? For starters, the average lifespan of a grade school textbook for example is only about 3 years. And according to the most recent statistics, it costs about $6.4 billion to publish textbooks each year. But if there is one slight mistake found in a textbook, schools are typically required to purchase new editions spend more money. But with the app, mistakes wouldn’t cost as much—there are not printing prices to consider and students could download updated versions for hardly anything at all.

To watch a promotional video of what the app can do on how it's "reinventing" the textbook, click here.

Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031[at]gmail[dot]com.

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