Books 2.0: iPad App brings a Textbook Publisher’s digital book

“What is your Vision for the Future of Books?”

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has developed an iPad app with content that closely mirrors the Holt McDougal Larson Algebra I textbook, but is enhanced to offer interactive features. It is meant to provide a virtual full year algebra course. The app will be piloted in California school districts this year.

The video below shows some pretty powerful features built into the new app. I really like the idea of interactive mobile textbooks, and would love to know your opinions. Workable? A viable possibility for future books? Personally, I don’t want to give up my pleasure reading “Books 1.0-style books”, but this seems a smart innovation for textbooks. Weigh in below!

What is your vision for the future of the book?

Unquestionably, the book changed everything when it burst on the scene, democratizing knowledge in a way that brought political and religious institutions to their knees, and provoked people to think in new ways about the nature of life. In 1997, Timeā€“Life magazine picked Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press as the most important invention of the second millennium, and in 1999, the A&E Network voted Gutenberg “Man of the Millennium”.

Now in the 21st century, the book is changing. The availability of information online, and the ability to deliver content cheaply and more quickly than ever before means the digital book is an inevitability. But what will “Books 2.0” look like?

IDEO, a design and innovation consulting firm, is one company with an idea for Books 2.0. Their vision of books democratizes knowledge even further by linking information and people instantly, and by allowing readers to interact with stories in ways only once possible in their imagination.

IDEO sees the Book 2.0 experience as interactive, non-linear, and collaborative. They ask us to consider what new experiences might be created by linking diverse discussions, what additional value could be created by connecting readers to one another, and what innovative ways we might all use to tell our favorite stories and build community around books.

For the last few years I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of textbooks, hoping someone will find a way to link essential content to information from around the web, and perhaps “Nelson” is a good model. I also like the mobility factor, and as yet I haven’t found a quality eBook that can follow me where I go as easily as IDEO’s Nelson. (Yes, I want something more than an enhanced PDF from my ebooks.)

What is your vision for the future of the book? What do you want it to be? Your comments are welcomed!

UPDATE: Paul Simbeck Hampson ‘amplify’d’ this blog post, and there’s a few interesting comments there. Check them out, and/or leave a comment here.