iBookstore is a game changer for textbooks

After writing about how iPads and YourTeacher helped raise math scores by 49%, I decided to speak with YourTeacher CEO Charlie Hermes to find out more about his company, and what it’s like to publish textbooks on the iBookstore.

“iBookstore is a game changer,” Hermes told The Loop. “We have a depth of high-quality content and the iBookstore allows us to be on a level playing field with the big publishers. No other platform would allow us to have our textbooks on that level and give users a choice.”

YourTeacher has been around for a decade, specializing in helping students learn math, but it wasn’t until Apple released iBooks Author that they entered the digital publication market. Using their existing content, Hermes said they put together textbooks they thought would help kids learn in a better way.

While it would have been difficult, or nearly impossible, for a small company like YourTecacher to compete with the big textbook manufacturers, iBookstore has opened the door for companies of all sizes.

With a company tagline of “Your Personal Math Teacher” Hermes and business partner Mike Maggart took the idea of an interactive textbook and added a teacher. Using video in the textbooks, students can get help whenever they have a problem, and practice widgets let them know how they are doing as they make their way through the book.

“We don’t dwell on how interactive or how cool it is,” said Hermes. “We’ve just taken the teacher and built it into the textbook. It’s not about this incredible layer of interactivity, it’s about having a teacher there to help you if you need it.”

Of course, using technology in the classroom is not new. School districts have been buying laptops for students for over a decade, but they never lived up to the promise based on the feedback Hermes received.

“I think the whole iPad thing is different for kids and schools,” said Hermes. “The response has been so overwhelming and different from what we got with laptops. This is really changing things.”

With the iPad and iBookstore leading the way, Hermes believes we’ll see even more small publishers entering the market over the next 3 or 4 years.

“Apple took a sledgehammer to the old model,” said Hermes. “Now the consumer or school can test a free chapter from iBookstore and decide for themselves what they want to buy.”