Last week Apple announced that textbooks could be purchased at their iBooks store and downloaded on the iPad. According to Global Equities Research via All Things D, 350,000 books were downloaded in the first three days. Considering that just seven titles were available, that’s a pretty awesome stat.
Factor in that not a whole lot of kids actually have iPads of their own, and it’s even more impressive.
We realize eBooks are changing the publishing industry. And now they’re going to change the textbook industry. But they’re also changing a fundamental way in which kids read.
Having an iPad has definitely affected my own reading habits. I can change the type size to fit my eyesight. I can read in the middle of the night without turning on a lamp and disturbing my husband. I can carry dozens of books on vacation without taking up luggage space. I don’t lose my place when I “close” the cover. The New Yorker app is awesome. The reasons go on and on. But for kids, most of these features are minor. What tablets do for them is give reading a whole new dimension. Tech features, including animation, videos, 3D graphics, and audio create an interactive experience. The new iBooks Author software, also released last week, lets users create their own books. Although reading has always been about “ideas,” i.e., content, tablet stories (when done well) push users to think and do and interact with the words and ideas on the screen. They teach critical thinking softly, rather than forcibly. They invite experimentation, imagination, and personalization. They make reading an action that elicits a reaction. Tablets make reading fun. And anything that’s fun, encourages kids to do more of it.
Granted, the day of every kid being able to read on a tablet is still far off, but for authors, developers, and publishers, it’s certainly the next chapter. And it’s never too soon to start reading ahead.
Let me know what you think about interactive reading…or anything else at firstname.lastname@example.org