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]