As Pedro Aznar showed us in his article this week, after the presentation by Apple last Thursday, Cupertino’s company has given a hit on the table in terms of digital publications and education . We are not going to say that they have reinvented the wheel, since that would not be fair, but they have laid the foundations of what could be a major change as far as the publishing sector is concerned .
They did it ten years ago when it came to the music industry and time seems to have proved them right and only time will tell what will emerge from all that happened this week. Evidently they have not shown anything new, Amazon has been “giving war” for a long time when it comes to digital editions, but they have presented tools to try to democratize this . Obviously it is a closed ecosystem, since it is only based on its devices, but we are not going to get our hands on it now, we all know whose “scrategories” it is.
We can get lost here in discussions about “not everyone can afford an iPad” or “it’s not fair that Apple is forcing an iPad on you to access these new features”. But we also have to take into account other variables to this equation How much does a laptop, a Netbook cost? How much does a technical book of any subject of a university career cost nowadays? It’s been over fifteen years since I went through college and I still remember my father’s words when he saw the textbook bills “You better take advantage of this…”
The tools are there, it is now that their usefulness must be seen
If we stay with the “bohemian” of everything that happened last Thursday, we could say that Apple has presented something very juicy. Teachers creating content for their students with a totally free tool, but it is necessary to have a computer with Mac OS X (come on, go… we all know that it is not necessary to have a Mac, the Hackintosh scene is there). Students can access all that content for free too.
iTunes U, the universities attached to it , the university’s own content, perfectly updated, all at the click of a mouse, without the need to involve publishers, without having to print anything. Some universities, such as the University of Deusto in Bilbao, have (at least they did when I studied there) their own publishing house, perhaps not the usual one, but some lecturers took advantage of it to generate their own syllabus, their own teaching material. How much can a tool like iBooks Author make things easier?
We cannot stay here, we must demand that the publishers do their job well
Not long ago, reading Jose Luis Merino’s blog, I realized something very common… The laziness with which the new is sometimes treated. It already happened to us some years ago with the record or film industry. The CDs were there, the DVDs appeared… The record companies and film producers had the tools there, the tools to be able to amply justify the price of their products. They could create hybrid CD’s that apart from listening to the last album of our favorite group, we could later introduce it in our computer and see more exclusive content. We could watch our favorite movie on our player…
But they stayed with the simple things… They sold you the album and nothing else… They sold you the movie and nothing else… But little by little we saw how they added content , added videos of “Making of”, interviews with actors and directors, pieces of live concerts of the group… Things little by little became what they had to be… Do you want to justify prices? Okay, offer content for that .
But in the emerging digital publishing market, things are going wrong. Obviously this is not widespread, but there are cases that show that not all that glitters is gold. Apple’s tools are there, Amazon’s platform has been operating for years now. But even today publishers seem not to do their homework .
They still treat the e-book market as a secondary one, which obviously doesn’t have the importance that the traditional printed book has, but if you look around you more and more people you can see around you on public transport with an e-book. Even so, no matter how residual the sales may be, errors such as those commented by Jose Luis Merino in his blog, about layout or code errors are far from acceptable .
And if… the ball is now on the publishers’ roof .