Textbooks Available On IPhone And IPod Touch

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
August 11, 2009

A company that provides e-textbook subscriptions for college students will make over 7,000 of its titles available on Apple Inc.'s iPhone and iPod Touch.

The new applications will be free to subscribers of CourseSmart LLC, a provider of e-textbooks, reports The Wall Street Journal. Students will be able to access their full electronic textbooks, read their digital notes and search for words and phrases.

Frank Lyman, CourseSmart's executive vice president, explained the benefits of making textbooks so readily available. "Nobody is going to use their iPhone to do their homework," he told the Journal, "but this does provide real mobile learning. If you're in a study group and you have a question, you can immediately access your text."

The applications will likely compete with Amazon's newly-released Kindle DX, an electronic textbook reader aimed at college and university students. This fall, several colleges will participate in a pilot program led by Amazon which will allow students to try out the new electronic reader. In addition, last week McGraw-Hill Education announced that it would make about 100 of its college textbooks available on the Kindle DX.

The announcement also comes as more colleges and universities are attempting make textbooks more affordable for students through initiatives such as textbook rental programs. CourseSmart operates by subscription, with most students renting books for 180 days, after which they lose access to the title. The digital books are about half the price of printed textbooks.

Wired.com notes that having textbooks accessible on an iPhone may very well be more practical than buying a Kindle DX. "Kindle is nice," noted Ed Freeman, who commented on the product, "but it makes a ton of sense to put books on a platform [iPhone] already in the hands of millions of people."

Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst with Forrester Research, Inc., agreed. "Textbooks are the missing link in the e-reader content base," she told the Journal. "The problem so far is that college students haven't really been interested in reading on their laptops. The iPhone will help create excitement and generate awareness of e-textbooks."

But others expressed skepticism about the long-term effects of utilizing e-books. "I worry whether electronic textbooks will be as enduring and create as many opportunities to share," opines Lewis W. Diuguid in The Kansas City Star [from an article originally located at http://www.kansascity.com/278/story/1373112.html]. "My doubt comes partly because of the ever-changing digital technology."

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