According to Global Equities Research (via AllThingsD), the new inexpensive digital textbooks Apple launched last Thursday at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City was downloaded over 350,000 times in just three days. iBooks Author, a new free of charge Mac tool to author iBooks Textbooks, saw 90,000 downloads in the same period. This data is not official and is derived from the investment firm’s proprietary tracking system that monitors Apple’s iBook sales.

Global Equities Research’s Trip Chowdhry said the numbers could be deciphered as “a recipe for Apple’s success in the textbook industry.” Apple’s new digital textbooks are priced at $14.99 or less and are available from several launch partners, including Pearson, McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and DK Publishing.

The digital textbooks available on iBookstore include “Biology” and “Environmental Science” from Pearson and “Algebra 1” and “Chemistry” from McGraw-Hill. Key benefits include smooth and consistent user interface, automatic portrait layout for easier navigation, image galleries, videos, interactive elements and more. Global Equities Research estimated the cost of iBook Textbook production to be 80 percent less compared to its dead-tree counterpart. Print textbooks traditionally cost several times Apple’s asking price, sometimes going all the way up to $100 per textbook. Whether or not Apple’s entrance into textbook publishing only helps boost iPad sales or helps spark a renaissance of sorts in the country’s education system, as some commentators have mentioned, remains to be seen.

According to his biographer Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs wanted to reinvent the world of textbooks. Following last week’s introduction of the new iBooks Textbooks, McGraw-Hill CEO publicly credited Jobs for the vision. Apple’s cofounder, who died after a long battle with cancer last October, famously told News Corp., chairperson Rupert Murdoch at a dinner in early 2011 that his company’s tablet computer could obsolete the paper textbooks. Apple originally wanted to hire great writers directly that would create textbooks made available free on iPad prior to Jobs eventually sitting down with publishers, such as Pearson Education, to discuss partnerships. Jobs thought the process by which American states certify textbooks was “corrupt.” He argued in his authorized biography: “If we can make textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, they don’t have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money.”


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