Kindle vs iBook in College Classrooms

The generation and utilization of educational content has long been a personal interest. We have been lucky enough to have a book available since the mid-90s. We split with our publisher a couple of years ago because we wanted to explore a smaller and less expensive book in combination with more online content.  We were able to implement our plan by securing our copyright and updating our material as a Kindle ebook and online content.

We selected Kindle because it was cross platform with the iBook being limited to the iPad at that time. However, the flexibility of the iBook is attractive and iBook Author appears to be a great platform for generating content.

While I really like the iBook author platform, I do not get the Apple ibook plan. It does not seem suited to those of us who write for higher education courses because while you can expect students to have some type of device, you cannot really assume it will be an Apple product (now iPad or a system running Mavericks).

There is also the matter of price to the reader. I did a quick comparison of Kindle and iBook prices for the books I have finished within the last two months and the Kindle version is always a little lower. While I do most of my reading on an iPad, I read none of these books as an iBook.

Making thinking visible – 18.96, 19.99
Invent to learn – 9.99, NA
Reign of error – 11.99, 14.99
Teaching minds – 14.55, NA
One Click – 7.99, 9.99
The everything store – 10.99, 10.99
The mushroom hunters – 11.84, 11.99
The circle –    6.50 6.99

Higher cost and fewer hardware options for experiencing the content seems a bad combination to me.

A book that goes beyond text must be where Apple sees this going. Clearly, the present Kindle books are far more limited as far as this potential goes. However, none of the books I just listed here would have benefited from a more flexible format.

The kind of product that would really take advantage of the iBook format would be very expensive to generate for the college market. Multimedia content requires more sophistication involving multiple experts and typically requires a careful approach to the acquisition of permissions. It was the issue of permissions in combination with our desire to generate a far less expensive book that let to our break with our publisher. Even if an individual could generate a more complex product there are always those issues that require lawyers in a commercial venture. An approach that primarily relies on text is just easier to generate. Professional help such as a good editor can greatly improve the work of any author, but that is about all you need with a Kindle book.

Our plan is to revise our present book this summer for both platforms. If you tell yourself this is about exploring and not about money or time, it is sufficient to enjoy the creative process. The plan is to offer a Kindle plus online content version and an iBook version that incorporates more of the content we presently provide online. We will see how it goes.

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