Physical Books are the New Vinyl

First, there’s this publishing industry insider describing in an email to Pando Daily’s Sarah Lacy how Amazon.com has impacted the industry:

Long-term there’s no future in printed books. They’ll be like vinyl: pricey and for collectors only. 95% of people will read digitally. Everybody in publishing knows this but most are in denial about it because moving to becoming a digital company means laying off like 40% of our staffs. And the barriers to entry fall, too. We simply don’t want to think about it.

Then, there’s Apple’s interactive textbook announcement ( iBooks 2, iBooks Author) for the iPad, which after reading about makes physical textbooks look antiquated.

“It’s not just about engaging students. It’s about engaging everyone in the education and publishing industries. If Apple can win their hearts and minds, it will win their business, too: Macs, iPads and iBooks,” writes Tim Carmody.

As a young student, I remember how important Apple was. It was nothing but Apple computers in the classroom. That all changed in the mid-nineties, obviously, with the ascendancy of Windows 95.

What Apple is doing here is fairly important. They’re attempting to hook people into the Apple environment at the school level. If that happens, it might not even matter what Microsoft or Google does going forward.

I generally have no problem with the notion of physical books becoming the equivalent of vinyl records. Sure, people lament the end of the physical, but no one’s had a problem with digital music, movies and television.

And, as someone who thinks the textbook market is a rip-off for students, it’s exciting to see Apple and publishers offering textbooks for $15 (not sure if that’s a one-time fee or yearly thing, etc.).

Imagine never having to worry about which textbook edition you purchased because they are always up-to-date? For students imagine how great it will be to carry a single device instead of lugging around a backpack full of books.

Perhaps even more exciting than that is the announcement of the textbook authoring tools. Educators can write their own material and distribute it free to students. Exciting times are ahead for educators.

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