Collins Education joins iBooks Author

Collins Education is joining the growing roster of publishers making interactive versions of their textbooks available through iBooks Author software.

The publisher has four newly launched maths and science GCSE titles—including revision guide Collins Essentials: AQA GCSE Science A and New GCSE Maths AQA Linear Higher 1 and Higher 2 Student Books—with a further five books in the same fields set to follow in December.

Andrew Freeman, general manager of Collins Home Learning and Revision, said the launch titles were new versions of established texts “significantly” enhanced with interactive content such as quizzes and graded questions, plus videos and animations.

He expects schools to use both physical and digital editions. “I would expect schools will buy print and iBook versions—it makes sense to me to use the same content in different ways,” he said. “We also provide content that can be used online. The idea is that you make content available in every way schools want to use it.”

Freeman called tablets “a fantastic learning tool”, but said the picture of use in schools was still unclear. “The use of iPads in schools is definitely expanding although what the market will look like in a year or two is very difficult to predict. The majority of schools will have one device and some will have one for every pupil. Schools are in a transition period and some will make the transition more quickly than others. But digital is a one-way street.”

The penetration of tablets in the home is also an important factor for schoolchildren wanting to do their revision, Freeman added. “It’s very high. What’s happened with smartphones is usage by age has dropped down and down, and the same is likely to happen with tablets.”

But iBooks Author has some technical issues. Freeman said: “The challenge is the size of the screen versus the size of the book. You can get more information on the page than on the screen unless you use their [Apple’s] widgets. [But to do that] is quite a big task.”
Discoverability, however, is not the same issue as it can be for trade houses. “The issue of how you stand out in a crowd . . . to an extent it’s the challenge we face elsewhere and we do run direct-to-schools [sales],” Freeman said.

Meanwhile, Freeman said Collins Education was “keeping a close eye” on the other tablet devices being launched. “It’s not clear what schools will do. Some will choose to go with a different tablet,” he said. Other publishers creating textbooks via iBooks Author include Pearson Education, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.