Textbook publishers heading to iPad

Major publishers sign deal with ScrollMotion to adapt their textbooks and study guides for Apple's iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

Lance Whitney
Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
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Publishers aren't wasting any time getting their books onto the new iPad.


Publishers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Kaplan Publishing, McGraw-Hill Education, and Pearson have signed deals to be among the first to port their textbooks over to Apple's new tablet. Heading to the iPad as well as the iPhone and iPod Touch will be their textbooks, study guides, and test prep manuals.

Announced on Wednesday, the agreements were made with ScrollMotion, a company that develops the iPhone e-reader app Iceberg Reader and works with publishers to digitize their books for the mobile market.

The digital textbooks promise a slew of options to take advantage of the medium, according to ScrollMotion. Students can mark text in any of six different colors to visually categorize each highlight. They can write notes or use the microphone built into the iPad and iPhone to record audio notes.

Students can also search for text by subject, topic, and other criteria. The digital books are even capable of playing quick videos to accompany the content. Finally, students can take interactive quizzes and track their right and wrong answers on the device.

Even before Apple chief Steve Jobs touted the iPad as the ultimate e-book reader, publishers were eager to hop on board.

At an earnings conference call the day before the iPad launch last week, McGraw Hill CEO Terry McGraw dangled remarks about his company's college textbooks potentially running on an Apple tablet. The publisher's CourseSmart textbook line is already available as an iPhone and iPod Touch app. McGraw seemed confident that the same content now on the iPhone could run out of the box on a tablet device.

Debate has surfaced as to whether the iPad could push other e-book readers out of the marketplace or at least make a dent in their sales. The iPad has a couple of potential drawbacks. Its LCD screen is seen as less friendly on the eyes than the e-ink used in dedicated readers like the Kindle. And for consumers only interested in reading books, the iPad's starting price of $499 could be hard to swallow compared to the lower cost of most standalone e-book readers.