I was reading a Star Tribune article this Sunday lamenting the plight of Twin Cities’ booksellers in the onslaught of competition from e-books. I’m a recent convert to the Kindle and iBooks, and I’ve been surprised at how quickly I’ve come to prefer my books in a digital form, I could only nod in agreement as I read the article.
In the back of my head, though, I kept thinking that I’d much prefer books with lots of diagrams and photos in a paper form. I wouldn’t want to read a complex textbook, for example, on the Kindle. The Kindle is black-and-white, after all, and iBooks doesn’t do a good job with photos. So I could see surviving bookstores evolving into niche stores dealing in complex printed material or children’s books. Eventually, however, I thought that both the Kindle and iBooks would adapt to a color medium, but I thought it would take time.
Little did I realize it would take so little time. Today, Apple updated iBooks to include illustrations and photos. MacRumors has details, and the New York Times has a more detailed article. This is a significant step forward for e-books, and yet another tool for schools and districts to reduce expensive textbook purchases and increase the use of Creative Commons resources and open source content.