This morning, Apple announced iBooks 2, a textbook platform for the iPad. According to Engadget, they've partnered with "Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt," which "are responsible for 90 percent of all textbooks sold," along with DK and the E.O. Wilson Foundation. The Verge has some hands-on video of these e-textbooks at work. Apple promises that these textbooks will cost $14.99 or less. They eat up a lot of storage—one of the seven books in the iBooks 2 store right now is 3 GB—which to me suggests that the upcoming iPad 3 is probably going to start at a higher base than 16 GB. In addition, Apple is blowing out iTunes U from its current role as a storehouse of lectures into what Engadget calls "full course materials," including integration with the e-textbooks.
And a free app called iBooks Author was announced today, too. It's a little less impressive than the "GarageBand for E-books" that people were anticipating—The Verge says "there's no WYSIWYG to build 3D objects from scratch or code HTML5 elements, you'll have to do that externally"—but the basic tools are there for anyone to create and publish a textbook-like e-book with Apple.
So, we have more affordable (after the initial $499 minimum outlay for an iPad) textbooks, an alliance with the major textbook publishers, a platform for distributing course materials, and a way to easily create and sell textbooks. What do you think?