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E-Textbooks and the iPad Learning Classroom

If your students use iPads in the classroom for collaboration and research, you may want to add e-textbooks. Like digital e-books, e-textbooks for iPads can offer interactivity and search capabilities that make them easier to use than their traditional paper cousins. But do e-textbooks exist? And if so, where can you find them?

Educators who have embraced technology in the classroom will be happy to hear that we've finally reached a period of transition where many traditional publishers are recognizing the need to publish and promote e-textbooks. In addition, smaller publishers and even individuals now have the technology to create and distribute their own textbooks — something that wasn't possible when textbooks had to be mass-produced and sold through traditional sales channels.

The dust is still settling, and a variety of e-textbook formats are on the market. In the case of the iPad, the iBookstore has an iBooks Textbooks category and the content in it has started growing rapidly.

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Apple has released a free software program for the Mac called iBooks Author, with the specific intent of allowing authors to create e-textbooks for the iPad and distribute them through the iBookstore.

Other publishers are releasing interactive textbooks as apps. That gives them more capability to add features such as monitoring and reporting on student progress. Sites such as Inkling focus solely on interactive textbooks and have apps for a variety of platforms, including iPads.

Amazon offers e-textbooks for iPad through its Kindle app. Other major sources for e-textbooks include CourseSmart, Kno and Chegg.

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