Macmillan's DynamicBooks demo: Textbooks to the 'Wii era'?

Macmillan, a prominent book publisher, launched DynamicBooks, interactive textbooks that are one part book and one part Wikipedia.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Macmillan, a prominent book publisher, on Monday launched DynamicBooks, interactive textbooks that are one part book and one part Wikipedia.

DynamicBooks, a new subsidiary of Macmillan, is designed to make textbooks more interactive for platforms such as Apple's iPhone and upcoming iPad.

In a nutshell (statement, Techmeme):

  • Instructors will be able to add text or media content to existing content in the textbook;
  • Profs will be able to customize and modify textbook chapters;
  • Books will get podcasts, video clips, graphing tools and other supplements;
  • The technology that enables the DynamicBooks is based on the VitalSource Bookshelf platform from Ingram Content Group;
  • And students can purchase the customized book or get a printed version.

Macmillan said that its DynamicBooks effort is aimed at lowering book prices. DynamicBooks are expected to be 40 percent to 50 percent lower.

On a conference call, Clancy Marshall, general manager of DynamicBooks demonstrated the newfangled books. Her main points:

  • DynamicBooks are an advance over traditional e-books;
  • The interactive books have been piloted in about 30 universities;
  • Publishers will set the pricing for DynamicBooks, but will be encouraged to create a lower price point for students;
  • The books are available Aug. 1.

Marshall said the DynamicBooks is just a start. She said that more independent authors will join the program and be able to cut the time to market. For instance, it takes 8 years to do an edition of a science book. The goal is to cut that time in half.

DynamicBooks will make its platform available to all authors and publishers without license fees.

"We see textbooks moving from the Charlie Chaplin era to the Wii era," said Marshall.

Here's a look at DynamicBooks:

The book's editing tool for publishers and profs...

The field to change text...


Student version of the bookshelf of the text...

Related: Apple iPad e-book pricing: Publishers can't get too cocky

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