The first metrics for Apple’s new textbook sales initiative are beginning to roll in, and it already looks like Apple has a success on its hands. According to independent third party Global Equities Research (GER), users have downloaded over 350,000 textbooks in just three days, making the launch of iBooks 2 a signal flare to the industry that consumers are ready to make the move away from traditional, printed books.
Announced just four days ago at Apple’s Winter press event held at the Guggenheim in New York City, the new iBooks package lived up to the hype by not only making textbooks available on an iPad but also giving you the power to create your own publications via the free iBooks Author software. As with any release from Cupertino, there were both advocates and critics of the announcement, with most of the negative comments coming about the cost of putting iPad hardware in the hands of school children. With the economic recession causing several cash-strapped school districts to cut back on teachers and other necessities, critics pointed out that buying thousands of high-priced iPad devices for kids to carry around may not make the most sense.
While Apple has opened the “walled-garden” up to K-12 schools (formerly iTunes U was only available at the university level), I don’t think that is the primary target for the technology giant. The numbers listed above bear this out in the idea that most likely it was college students who rushed to their iPads to download cheaper versions of their texts. Looking at the demographics of iPad users pictured below, 48% are people of college age. While it costs Apple nothing to open the gates to elementary and high school educators, it knows that the majority of revenue is going to come from higher-education, where people already buy texts and spend considerably to do so. Cupertino is obviously on to something if the numbers that were released by GER hold up as being accurate.