Apple’s multimedia iBooks textbooks fascinates me in terms of its development (Apple iBooks Author for Mac OS X) and the books themselves. One thing is clear, developing these multimedia textbooks is going to be an expensive proposition. Textbooks tend to be much more complicated publications that, for example, novels because of the the number of page components. Novels tend to be a stream of text in, for the most part, a single typeface and font size. Textbooks have sidebars, indexes, charts, photos, maps, and even objects requiring different ink colors. Adding audio, video, and interactive learning tools ups the ante for textbook development even more.
The E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth project estimates that the production and maintenance (updates) will cost millions of dollars: Initial development of Life on Earth will cost $8.5 million. Continuing costs will be approximately $1.5 million per year, including continuing development, maintenance, and bandwidth expenses. In all, we will require continuing annual support equivalent to the budget of a very small municipal museum, yet we expect to deliver value on another scale altogether