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Macmillan intros editable e-textbooks, plans iPad versions

updated 09:45 am EST, Mon February 22, 2010

Macmillan DynamicBooks allow for 'live' edits

Macmillan today unveiled a new format for digital textbooks that it hopes will become the mainstream. DynamicBooks aim to give control over a textbook to college and university professors by giving them Wiki-style editing: they can shuffle the order of material as well as edit it themselves. Professors will also have the option of grafting their own course outlines, notes and media to potentially provide entire course details through the single book.

The changes won't require permission from either the author or Macmillan, although the latter says it may take action if it receives a lot of complaints about a particular textbook.

About 100 titles should be available in the DynamicBooks format in August and will often have much lower prices. A psychology textbook, for example, costs just $49, or less than half the $134 print version. Physical copies of customized books will be an option but will reach prices closer to the master version.

Most reading will be intended for the computer but should support the iPhone. Macmillan adds that it will talk with Apple about producing iPad-sized versions to take advantage of its seemingly ideal screen. As the iBookstore only allows ePub books so far, however, the publisher will likely have to turn to a custom DynamicBooks app instead. [via NYT]

By Electronista Staff
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  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Nov 2008


    The iPad seems to be getting every

    opportunity to become a successful product. I sure hope consumers take to it because it could likely be a very strong tool for education.

  1. macbarry

    Junior Member

    Joined: Aug 2002


    iPad = ipod for books

    Just like the iPod reshaped the music business it seems the iPad could do the same for books.

  1. MisterMe

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2007


    This sounds suspiciously like...

    ... MacMillan wants to market half-fast books that professors will then have to supplement without compensation.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    Re: iPod for books

    Nope, it is nothing like that, since Apple would be stupid to market their device in any way that implies it is merely an ebook reader.

    The Kindle is an iPod for books. The iPad is an iPod, AppleTV, and iPod Touch, rolled into one and then enhanced.

  1. keithmaniac

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2008


    Are editable textbooks a good idea?

    I'm not sure I like this idea. While it is hoped that edits would be done with the best of intentions, it is easy to see how personal ideas and prejudices could be introduced without the student knowing their origins, unless the student could always see the "untouched" version of the text. In a worst case scenario, I could envision religious groups altering the text to suit their agendas for example, or political pressure leading to a rewriting or censoring of information.

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