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Revolutionizing textbooks: the iPad and e-textbooks

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By Margaret Adolphus


The textbook has traditionally been the purveyor of academic course content, and one of the most interesting applications of the iPad is its ability to display digital textbooks with an ease and clarity never before achieved.

For the last 20 or so years, publishers have given digital a cautious nod by providing a CD stuck to the inside back cover of the textbook.  But text still predominates, and a digital age demands equal use of other media, hence the birth of the born digital text.

However, to fully exploit the capabilities of born digital, a device needs to display both text and multimedia.  A computer can display the latter, but reading the former is difficult, whereas most Kindles cannot display colour, let alone video.

The iPad, combining as it does the features of an e-book reader with those of a laptop, can do both, and is therefore well placed to transform the world of textbook publishing.

This article will look at some of the ways in which the e-textbook (also referred to as the digital, interactive, or multi-touch, textbook), is finally coming of age.