Textbooks For iPhone, iPods

As interest grows in the digital-textbook arena, one of the providers of e-textbook subscriptions has announced plans to make over 7,000 titles accessible via Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch. The new applications that enable the eBook access will be free to subscribers of CourseSmart LLC. The apps let students access full electronic textbooks, read digital notes, and search for specific words and phrases.

This isn’t the first instance we’ve heard of eBooks and eBook readers targeting college students—not long ago, Amazon announced its $489 large-screen Kindle DX e-reader. In combination with the announcement, Amazon is launching a trial program at seven colleges this fall that will experiment with hundreds of students reading textbooks digitally on the readers. In addition, McGraw-Hill Education has announced plans to make about 100 college textbooks available for use on Amazon's Kindle and Kindle DX.

The CourseSmart titles that will be available for the iPhone and iPod Touch are not currently available on Amazon’s Kindle devices. CourseSmart was created in 2007as a joint venture of six higher-education publishers including McGraw-Hill Education and Pearson PLC's Pearson Education. The company typically operates on a subscription model where students rent a book for 180 days. The company offers its digital books at about 50% of the retail price of the corresponding textbook.

"Textbooks are the missing link in the e-reader content base," said Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst with Forrester Research, Inc. "The problem so far is that college students haven't really been interested in reading on their laptops. The iPhone will help create excitement and generate awareness of e-textbooks."