For the first time in my PhD program, some of my textbooks  are available in e-versions.   This is somewhat shocking, considering that I’m in the ‘Instructional Technology’ field, so if any education field would have made the transition by now, you’d think it be us.  But I digress…

I’m glad to have my textbooks on my trusty iPad2, but I’m frustrated.  Allow me to explain (in a little detail – there is a shorter summary below these 6 notes):

  1. I use a high powered annotation software called iAnnotate for reading and annotating research articles (.pdf) files, and it works fantastic.  iAnnotate provides me all the tools (and more) that I would have access to if I were taking notes by hand, and it does so in a somewhat user-friendly environment.  I could go on and on about the other features (e.g. summaries of my notations, etc.), but you can read about those on their website.
  2. iAnnotate does not support ePub or Kindle’s AZW file formats.  I’ve contacted them about this, because I’d really like to continue to use it as my professional e-reader.
  3. The Amazon Kindle app has putrid annotation tools.  They are pretty much useless, because their interface is built more for reading (consuming) than for interacting with the texts.
  4. Being the computer savvy fellow I am, I decide that I will remove the DRM restrictions from the Kindle book files, and convert them to ePub and PDF formats.
  5. After quite some time researching on the interwebs how to accomplish this, I’ve downloaded the necessary freeware and successfully removed the DRM restrictions from the Kindle files, and successfully converted them into the ePub format.  However, although the ePub format is wonderful, because it adjusts to screen size, font size, image size, etc., there are no useful annotation softwares for interacting with them (at least that I’m aware of).  Kindle, Stanza, iBooks…they all are basically useless for academic/professional consumption/interaction with the reading material.
  6. So, I try to convert the ePub files into PDF files, so that I can annotate with iAnnotate…except converting from ePub -> PDF is futile.  The pages don’t fill up (despite numerous setting changes and attempts), there are too many blank pages, the images don’t transfer in full size, and overall, it’s an even worse reading experience than before.

If any of that made sense to you, fantastic.  But I’ll still summarize:

  • e-Books currently don’t have a e-reader software that is qualified for easy, thorough, in-text annotations.
  • Converting ePub and AZM files to PDF files does not seem like a viable solution.

Enter Apple’s new iBooks Textbooks and iBooks Author…

Upon first glance, it seems that Apple has taken a step forward, especially in regards to costs, multimedia, interface, and yes…interacting with texts via annotations (and making those annotations useful).  I intend to download and experiment with these new textbooks, as well as use the iBooks Author to create new content for courses that I teach.  I hope that the file format, which isn’t exactly ePub, plays well with PCs, Macs, netbooks, etc., and is not limited to the iPad…

iBooks Textbooks…gotta admit: I’m intrigued.

*Note: This post is featured in Danny Nicholson’s blog carnival, which can be found on his Whiteboard Blog: Supporting Technology in the Classroom: http://www.whiteboardblog.co.uk/2012/01/the-ed-tech-blog-carnival-2012/

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