It’s important to understand the distinction between apps and eBooks, as it’s something that often confuses both publishers and consumers. It basically comes down to formats; apps are mostly native iOS or Android software, whereas eBooks are documents of a particular format, such as the open standard EPUB. And eBooks can be further distinguished from “enhanced eBooks,” which use formats such as ePUB3 and Kindle Format 8 (KF8) for Kindle Fire (Amazon).
eBooks were the first to appear on devices like the Kindle, and as you all may know, have very limited interactivity. You are mainly able to flip the pages, search for content, or highlight words to see a dictionary definition. These devices also allowed font size to be increased to enable visually impaired readers enjoy books more easily. They also provided text to speech on some devices.
Enhanced eBooks (ePUB3) was a new digital publication standard that allows easy integration of video, audio, and interactivity. I expect this format to advance the future of textbooks and other educational material. Future textbooks might be able to “read themselves” with audio narration, perhaps preventing students from actually reading. But the benefits outweigh the downsides; for example, the new text books might also offer the ability to make and share annotations without destroying the book, interactive self-tests throughout the chapters, and generally a much more enjoyable learning experience.
I am fortunate to work with Apple to help bring a new platform to Australia, called iBooks. Apple have created software called iBooks Author, a free eBook creation software that lets anyone with a Macintosh computer to create iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books, etc. iBooks Author generates a proprietary format for books that will only be available for sale on Apple devices.
Adobe, normally the leader in everything digital, has also made available a Digital Publishing Suite via InDesign for the iPad, Android, and Blackberry platforms which also creates a great looking result but no way the power of iBooks.
Feel free to come and have a chat with me to explore the true re-invention of reading and publishing.