Monday, December 5, 2011

Inkling 2

Reprinted from the MacWord "Eddy" awards:
An Inkling textbook on an iPad.
Reading books on the iPad is nothing new. We’ve got iBooks, the Kindle app, and who-knows-how-many PDF readers. But one app shows you what reading on the iPad should be like. Inkling licenses textbooks from traditional publishers then adapts the content for the iPad. But those adaptations aren’t just replicas of the print original. Rather, the texts are completely revamped to take advantage of what the tablet can do. For example, there are no pages as such. Chapters are broken down into “cards,” which scroll continuously up and down the screen. Within those cards, static illustrations are augmented by interactive multimedia—full audio and video, of course, but also animated diagrams and rotating wireframes you can examine from every angle. 
Version 2.0, which came out in August 2011, adds social tools: You can now share notes and annotations with classmates and others using the same text. Inkling has adapted more than fifty undergraduate and graduate textbooks so far, and that’s only the start: The company plans to apply its technology to cookbooks and other reference materials, too. The future of publishing on the iPad? It could well be.—DAN MILLER

Friday, August 26, 2011

Booktrack: Soundtracks that match what you are reading.

This just in from Business Insider ... "like movies have soundtracks, now books can have soundtracks." ... "In the coming weeks and months, Booktrack will also create editions of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Peter Pan, The Three Musketeers, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Romeo and Juliet and more."

Read the full story:

Try it out here ... Download the iPad version of Sherlock Holmes
Unlike traditional audio books, Booktrack is a soundtrack that will match what you are reading, AS YOU READ (Note: no one is reading the story to you). You can now truly hear what it’s like to be back in Holmes time with the suspense of Dr. Watson helping Holmes solve a case, horse’s hooves beating against the pavement while the tension rises in the air, and when they sit before a fire you will hear the wood crinkling in the background as Holmes and Watson solve another mystery. The personalized sound effects and composition makes the story more powerful and immersive than it has ever been heard before!
View a trailer for Sherlock Holmes Speckled Band Booktrack:


So basically, it enhances your reading experience, by providing sound effects, and a "score" as you would be hearing if you were watching the movie instead of reading. Interesting idea, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Push Pop Press = no more ebooks

Today's article, "Why we'll never have innovative e-books" from Tim Carmody at WIRED (published on CNN Tech) reports that Facebook is acquiring Push Pop Press -- the e-publishing startup company that created Al Gore's iPad ebook "The Choice." Carmody is bummed and so am I. He writes,
We sorely need independent innovation in digital publishing. We need talented people who are willing to try things. Meanwhile, all of the money, attention and technological skill is marching in the opposite direction. 
Most big media companies with plenty of capital and deep technical talent see few if any reasons to innovate or invest in books.
I'm especially disappointed since co-creator Mike Matas, who spoke at a recent TED Talk, imagined building a tool for publishers (see my post on 5/5/11) to create similar interactive books. If books are to become electronic, we need to be sure that they are not just "digitized text" and will take full advantage of the power of personal learning, made possible by devices like the iPad.

Monday, August 1, 2011

EPUB3 -- a game changer?

Back in January 2011 O' reported that EPUB3 (the newest revision of the EPUB standard) was soon to be released, ( and offered predictions of the changes this could bring to digital publishing:
Bob Kasher: There are three key areas EPUB3 is focused around: language support, greater accessibility, and increased multimedia support. Language support will allow EPUB3 to save and search non-Roman scripts — such as Japanese, Chinese and Arabic — as font characters rather than JPEGs, as in current EPUB support. This will make a much broader range of literature available to current and future reading devices from base EPUB files. It will truly internationalize EPUB.
EPUB3 will also be better at integrating the current DAISY accessibility standards, to help make reading devices of greater usefulness to visually impaired readers.
EPUB3 will be much more adept at supporting multimedia capabilities for both HTML5-based devices and the coming generation of tablets supporting both Flash and HTML5. It is hoped that in doing so, EPUB3 will help develop an enhanced ebook standard that can be used across a variety of media and content.
Other developments include enhanced metadata support for discoverability, better facilitation support for touchscreen devices, and support for MathML, which we hope will open up greater opportunities for textbook publishers. EPUB3 will be a quantum leap forward in capabilities for future device support, but still backward compatible with current devices on the market.
O'Reilly followed up on this recently: and noted that EPUB3 could "yield enhanced books" that will work on a variety of devices. Up until now, the iPad has been the only device that supports embedded media files.

It keeps getting better and better!

Monday, July 4, 2011

College students views on eBooks vs. Paper

A recent "Inside Higher Ed" survey shows that although digital textbooks are ready for college, students are not quite ready to give up their "dead trees:"
Only 5 percent of the survey respondents said they purchased access to an e-textbook this spring. Two percent bought e-textbooks for more than one class. The most common reason for going electronic? “My professor required me to.”
Although, more than half of the 1200 students surveyed expressed an interest in "e-readers," noting the iPad as a popular choice.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Does Digital Text Create a Cognitive Gap?

This article highlights studies regarding digital text and learning:
Ereaders are changing the face of reading across the board, and experiments in creating more economic-friendly textbooks for students are increasing. The results, however, are not all positive.
As students attempt to incorporate electronic text into their studies, issues with e-textbooks are starting to emerge — and the problems go beyond poor annotation and sharing tools.
A study at the University of Washington and six other universities in the US involving the use of the larger-format Kindle DX indicated a disconnect between digital text and the way students learn.
Read more:

Early Results of the HMH Fuse Algebra App Pilot

This report from "The Unofficial Apple Weblog" details the progress of the California schools pilot of the HMH Fuse Algebra curriculum. The app is a digital version of the new Houghton Mifflin Algebra 1 book, and includes interactive components such as a scratch pad (for sketches, text and audio notes) and graphing calculator, as well as a number of annotated videos that can address multiple learning styles. You can freely download the "preview" app....  which includes a video on "how to use this book" when you launch the app. The free app provides access to the graphing tool, scratchpad, and a few pdf worksheets, but to actually learn algebra, it's $59.99 to download the chapter contents (compared to $71 for the paper textbook).

This may be among the first efforts of any textbook publishers specifically targeting the high school level. Also available now is a sneak peak to HMH Fuse Geometry, which includes the a free sample chapter of content.

Read more at:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a major publisher of textbooks with an abiding interest in technology, embarked upon a large scale pilot project in digital education.
As soon as their new Holt McDougal Algebra 1 textbook was finished, it was decided to re-imagine it as an iPad app named HMH Fuse Algebra 1. The app would include exactly the same content as the 950-page book, but it would also contain over 400 videos, animations, a graphing calculator, multiple presentation methods and numerous other features. John Sipe, the general sales manager of HMH, blueprinted what he wanted the app to be and worked with developers to bring it to fruition.
The free app, which weighs in at 141 MB, only gives you a taste of how it all works, but it doesn't include any course content. Seeing that requires a US$59.95 in-app purchase. Loading all the content takes up a whopping 4-6 GB of space, but chapters and videos can be downloaded, erased and reloaded at any time.
HMH took this quite seriously and poured some major money into a full-year pilot project; four California school districts were chosen, and teachers were asked to volunteer to teach a number of classes using the textbook and other classes using the app for the entire school year. HMH wanted to measure if students tested better using the app over the textbook and explore attitudinal changes in both teachers and students. ... Sipe and HMH wanted to see if delivery methods affected learning, and if so, how?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

More about "Our Choice"

I am a huge fan of TED Talks! Matas stated that Push Pop Press engineers are building a tool to make it easy for publishers to create similar "apps." Let's hope it's one that educators can use too!  Learn more about Mike Matas at:

Join the conversation at TED... what is this "ebook" missing? What do you want in this future book?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Adaptable... "Our Choice" eBook "App" from Push Pop Press

This App from "Push Pop Press" is more than just digitized text.

Amy Lee from the Huffington Post reports:
The Our Choice app is a digital reading experience that matches a book for ease and outdoes it in ways that Gutenberg surely never imagined. With just your fingers, and the screen, the 400-page book becomes a portal to video, photo, and infographic content that demonstrates just how powerful an aid technology can be to the cause of knowledge.

Al Gore explains:

Read the full article:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

10 ways digital books are changing our literary lives

From the Denver Post (dated 4/18/11):

The Hermitage Bookshop in Cherry Creek North, decidedly old-school with its oak furniture and elaborate Persian rug, isn't where you'd expect to find a fan of e-books, but listen to owner Bob Topp: "E-books have increased the purchase of print books," he says.
"It's easy for people to read the Sunday paper, look at a book review, and 10 minutes later, they've got that e-book on their Kindle. More people reading is good. I think it's way too early to say that the e-book will kill the hardback."
Topp doesn't use an e-reader, but his wife does. She praises its ability to store hundreds of novels in a slim, mobile device that weighs less than most of the venerable collectible books on the Hermitage shelves.
Certainly, digital publishing is changing the way people consume books — how and where they acquire books, and how and where they read. Here are 10 examples, old school versus new.

Jesse Jackson Jr. views iPads as responsible for jobless Americans

From "the Telegraph"
‘This device … is now probably responsible for eliminating thousands of American jobs,’ said Rep Jesse Jackson Jr to the House of Representatives last Friday. Here he is, decrying the loss of jobs such as those in ‘libraries, bookstores. Jobs that depend on paper. In the not-too-distant future, such jobs will not exist.’

He also shares that students at Chicago State University are being issued iPads instead of textbooks, and states that the university president is hoping to have a "textbookless" campus in four years.

Monday, April 18, 2011

E-Books Rank as #1 Format among All Trade Categories for the Month

From the Association of American Publishers:
This one-month surge is primarily attributed to a high level of strong post-holiday e-Book buying, or “loading,” by consumers who received e-Reader devices as gifts. Experts note that the expanded selection of e-Readers introduced for the holidays and the broader availability of titles are factors.
And also reported on Engadget:
US sales of e-books generated about $90.3 million in revenue in February -- roughly triple the sales reported in the same month last year. To boot, they were the dominant format for trade titles, a category that includes adult and children's works. Meanwhile, printed books declined 34 percent and 16 percent in those respective areas, with gentler, single-digit drops for education and religious titles. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Conversation Continues....

Abilene Christian University hosted the Connected Summit 2011 in February. Steve Wozniak, Karen Cator and Adrian Sannier were featured keynote speakers. The sessions from the summit have been posted to ACU's iTunes U channel, and are now available for your viewing pleasure!

Be sure to tune into Track 3: The Future of Books, facilitated by Bill Rankin, Ph.D., Director of Educational Innovation, Abilene Christian University.

Presentations include: "Moving from Digital Books (PDFs) to eTextbooks: What a True eTextbook Should Look Like," "iPad or iFad: The Reality of a Paperless Classroom," "Chapter 0: How 20 Freshmen Created Their Own Electronic Text" and "Building for the Next Information Age: Envisioning the Future of Books"... just to name a few.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

e-Book Sales up 116% from last year

A recent report from the Association of American Publishers states:
Figures for the first month of the new year show that E-book net sales increased by 115.8% vs January 2010 (from $32.4 Million to $69.9M). Sales of Downloadable Audio Books also rose by 8.8% vs the previous year ($6.0M to $6.5M). As AAP reported last month in its December 2010 monthly report and full 2010 analysis, E-book sales have increased annually and significantly in all nine years of tracking the category.
Read the full report at

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Inkling Lands Funding for eTextbooks

According to BusinessWire, both McGraw-Hill and Pearson have committed to building interactive editions of their top titles for the Inkling platform, after securing significant minority investments from these "two largest educational content providers in the world."

From the article:
Textbooks on Inkling’s platform are built from the ground up for multi-touch devices like iPad, bringing a level of engagement and learning that’s impossible with flat reproductions of print books. Students love the rich interactivity, self quizzes, easy search and annotation tools, and the ability to buy by the chapter, saving them money. Professors like that Inkling textbooks drive better student engagement and achievement without requiring any change in instruction. Plus, social collaboration among students and between professor and student opens doors to entirely new ways to learn.
Today, Inkling is partnering with top publishers to produce their most popular textbooks spanning business school, medical school, and undergraduate curricula for 2011. Content commitments now include:
  • The top 100 undergraduate titles from McGraw-Hill Higher Education
  • A comprehensive MBA curriculum, featuring 24 of the most popular business titles, from Pearson Education
  • A full line of medical textbooks, featuring Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, an imprint of Wolters Kluwer Health
  • Top undergraduate arts and sciences titles from Pearson Education
  • Top medical education and reference content from McGraw-Hill Professional

(Image credit:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

BlueFire Reader for Adobe DRM eBooks

Today I borrowed an e-book from my local public library. Our library uses "My Media Mall" to manage e-borrowing. Library patrons can reserve a book, and when it's available, receive an email stating the book will be available for download for 3 days. Once downloaded, it is accessible for 14-days (Adobe Digital Editions is needed to read the DRM-protected book). Books can not be renewed, but patrons can request the title again, and get in the queue for the next available copy.

After downloading the book to my computer, I was not sure how to transfer it to my iPad. A bit of online research revealed "BlueFire Reader" which authenticates with an Adobe ID.  eBooks can then be "side-loaded" onto the iPad BlueFire Reader using iTunes.

From the website

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Interactive Books from Kiwa

The conversation continues..

Kiwa has a collection of interactive "Qbooks" available for the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. These interactive books have features such as "Swipe to Read," "Touch to Hear," "Touch to Spell" and a "My Narration" function to read and record in your own voice. Some have narration built-in. You will find the ability to "paint" story pages with custom brushes, as well. The books are moderately priced (.99 cents for the iPod Touch versions up to $7.99 for the iPad HD versions). Many titles are also multi-lingual, which might be suitable for foreign language teaching. The Kiwa website reports that "support for other platforms coming soon."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

ICE 2011 Presentation: "ePub and the Future of the Book"

Today and tomorrow I will be presenting the work of the ADE team's Summer Institute project and ideas around the use of ePub, digital text and specifically the iPad for delivering instruction. Calling all educators!! Here is your chance to add your voice to the discussion. Visit the back-channel "chat board" at and post your ideas about what books mean to you, and what you think is important when we look at what books of the future should be, do, or have. No sign-up is required.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Florida sets timeline for digital textbooks by 2015

Dateline: February 17, 2011 in the St. Petersburg Times:
State education officials rolled out a five-year proposal this week that calls for all students in K-12 to use only "electronic materials" delivered by Kindles, iPads and other similar technology by 2015.
Read the full article

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What is the Future of the Book? Discussion continues at Educon

Christine DiPaulo and Chris Penny lead a discussion during Educon 2.3 (Jan 28-31, 2011 in Philadelphia titled Future Of The Book. ( It was an extension of the work started at the Apple Distinguished Educators Summer 2010 Institute. Bill Rankin was kind enough to allow them to repurpose some of his outstanding work. Dr. Penny reports, "The session was very well received."

Watch live streaming video from educon14 at

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Vooks... connected, but not very adaptable.

I recently learned about "Vooks," which, according to the website, a Vook is an enhanced digital book blending video and Internet links. Well, it's not really a book...

A vook is a new innovation in reading that blends a well-written book, high-quality video and the power of the Internet into a single, complete story. You can read your book, watch videos that enhance the story and connect with authors and your friends through social media all on one screen, without switching between platforms.
Vooks are available in two formats: As a web-based application you can read on your computer and an application for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad for reading on the go. With the web-based application you don't have to download programs or install software. Just open your favorite browser and start reading and watching in an exciting new way. You can also download and install the mobile applications through the Apple iTunes store and sync them with your Apple mobile device.
It's not an "ebook" as one would expect an ebook to be (based on similar offering from vendors such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble).  And, although users can read a selection on either a personal device or the web, and "connect" with other readers using a variety of social networking tools, unfortunately, readers cannot sync content between the web and their personal device. From the FAQs:
Unfortunately, at this time we are unable to offer multi-platform access. If you want to access a particular title on both your computer and your mobile device, you will have to purchase both versions. This is due to the separate checkout carts used on our site and the mobile provider's site. 
There is a small amount of free "lite" content available (Buddha, 3 Little Pigs), that does not require you to create an account. The lite versions include a few chapters (with videos) and a link to purchase the full version.

Connected? ... Socially, yes. 
Adaptable or Customizable?...  Somewhat.
Fonts (three sizes), and lightness/darkness can be adjusted, however it would appear that bookmarks and highlighting are not an option.