Only a few days after it’s launch, Apple’s plan to reinvent the way people read, view, and most importantly, purchase textbooks is off to a very good start. Global Equities Research, who tracks the sales of Apple Downloads, reports that over 350,000 textbooks were downloaded within the first three days of the new initiative, which are sold as part of Apple’s iBooks online store. That’s also great news for Apple’s partners Pearson and McGraw-Hill .
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Though strategically released this past week to capitalize on both post-holiday electronics sales, among which tablets such as Apple’s iPad were one of the hot sellers of the season, and the beginning of many college students’ winter semester, the numbers are still very impressive. Global Equities also announced that Apple’s new iBooks Author, which can be used to essentially create textbooks, also did very well, with 90,000 downloads over the same period.
While it may send mixed signals for the remaining brick and mortar book stores, and especially centerpiece campus book stores, if this becomes a trend, downloading will prove incredibly lucrative for almost everyone involved. Of course, Apple stands to do well, and tech savvy students, who are of course using tablets and smartphones as much as if not more than most demographics, will find it easier and more cost effective to get all of their reading done. Perhaps most significantly, however, this is an excellent arrangement for publishers, who will make out the best in the arrangement, since they are now able to cut out the middle men – in essence, the distributors and wholesalers – and send their product directly to retail.
In simplest terms, this will allow publishers to cut down on both the high mark prices up that generally discourages the sale of new text books, the initial physical production costs, and increase their own individual mark-up percentage as the send it directly to the retailer: Apple’s iBooks. The second is actually something of an important point; one of the reasons text books are so notoriously expensive is that they they are often printed in smaller quantities than other retail books and thus have to be more expensive to justify their limited printing. This new arrangement may eventually render that a moot point, and may even increase the readership of text books now that they are price pointed to be readily more available.
If Apple can maintain a strong presence in textbook sales past this auspicious start, and given their track record, there’s every reason to think they can, than once again the tech giant may have found another way to not only increase profits, but dramatically alter the cultural, and especially academic, landscape.
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