Big Surprise – Paper Textbooks Likely To Be Cheaper Than IPads For a Long Time [Infographic]

Big Surprise – Paper Textbooks Likely To Be Cheaper Than IPads For a Long Time [Infographic]

Earlier this year Apple announced their plan to help revitalize the American Education System by putting digital textbooks on iPads into the hands of high school students. Apple’s belief is that learning on an iPad is a far superior experience to lugging around printed books that aren’t interactive. We compappletely agree that interactive learning is the road America needs to take, but getting there is going to be a huge problem. A recent study shows that using paper textbooks in schools is a lot cheaper than iPads, and that’s not likely to change unless Apple takes some drastic steps to reduce cost.

Using paper textbooks in the average high school class currently costs about $180,000 but switching to iPads would cost $430,000. Many proponents of using the iPad in the classroom say that the iPad is more cost effective in the long run because the tablet doesn’t need to be replaced as often. But with the average lifespan of a textbook being about 5 years, it looks like schools may need to replace iPads just as often as they replace their paper books.

What if schools stopped spending money on computers and just bought iPads, wouldn’t that work? Nope, not even close. Schools spent $2 billion on computers last year, which is only enough to supply 10% of students with iPads. Combine the problems of our nation’s massive deficit, the current price of the iPad, and the rate of school spending on technology, and we see that it might take 10 years for schools across the country to adopt iPads if spending stays the same. That’s if they decide to go with the expensive route in the first place.

Here’s a handy infographic on why using paper textbooks are so much cheaper than using iPads.

Big Surprise – Paper Textbooks Likely To Be Cheaper Than IPads For a Long Time [Infographic]

Big Surprise – Paper Textbooks Likely To Be Cheaper Than IPads For a Long Time [Infographic]

[Online Teaching Degree via FastCoDesign]

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  • Dan kamp

    You don’t account for infrastructure in terms of computer labs that will not be needed. Copying that will not be needed. Plus you don’t account for the fact that the iPad will be returned by each student and used again. They in no way would be given them to keep.

  • Jordan Dunn

    Of course this is all in the assumption that highschools will be early adopters which is never the case, most highschool books are severely outdated already. Colleges would be early adopters therefore decreasing cost down the road.

  • Buster

    actually the graphic does. Schools spend 2 billion a year on computers. So let’s say they stop building computer labs and buy iPads, it will still take 10 years at their current rate of spending for all students to have an iPad. Read the article before commenting.

  • Alan Roberts

    Total agree that in mainstream schools the iPad will take along time to
    become the new text book. It could be different in special schools. I
    work in a school in the UK which teachers children with learning difficulties. We us the iPad to teach them and its actually cheaper than buying individual pieces of equipment. The pupil can have all the programs on one device which they can take with them to each class. 

  • Wade Dansby

    A major issue in the textbook industry today is that the biggest textbook publishers are dumbing down and inserting quasi-science and quasi-history into books at the request of the texas market. One advantage of iPads is that the Texas market can have their truthy textbooks and the rest of us can learn from actual science and history texts..

  • FriarNurgle

    You get what you pay for. I’m more than happy to buy a few things throughout the year at a few bake sales to support my kid’s school district switching to iPads. 

  • mn2k2shox

    My prediction which probably will happen is that Apple will re-release iPad 1 just like they did with iPhone 3Gs and imagine iPad 3 16Gb comes out and being sold for the same price as the iPad 2 16Gb now which is $499 and iPad 2 prices will drop to $399.. It would only make sense for the iPad 1 to go down to $299 and if it is aim at schools with the new textbooks, they could easily drop the 16Gb memory to maybe 8Gb and that would bring the prices down to even lower.. Who knows… $199

    THINK ABOUT IT… you hear it here first @mn2k2shox

  • jordan pauly

    I work for one of the top 3 publishers in the world and I will be the first to say that these numbers are 100% wrong. Textbooks net price may be $75.00 a pop but that’s not including the 35% markup that bookstores put on texts. Students easily pay over $125 a book…easy! Now take $125 x 6 books per year = $750.00. You could get an entry lvl iPad for around 400.00… hmm you do the math??

  • Buster

    you’re saying “students easily pay over $125.” Are you talking about college students? because high school students don’t buy textbooks, and these stats are about high school adoption, NOT college

  • Dan kamp

    Except for the fact that one text book made iBooks Author is about 4-5 gigs alone.

  • cpmorris0

    Wouldn’t a school district get some sort of discount for buying that many iPads at one time?  It would change the numbers a little bit in the favor of iPads.  Also, what this graphic does not talk about is the physical size of textbooks, the possible learning opportunities with multimedia, and experience for students using new technology.  On the other hand, what a distraction an iPad is in the classroom…

  • cpmorris0

    Huh?

  • Jerry_O

    Buster,

    Your analysis is fatally flawed.  Research the case of the Mooresville, NC school district that gave each student not an iPad, but a MacBook Air.  Staggering improvements in student performance in just one year! 

  • jordan pauly

    BusterH that’s what I get for jumping the gun and not reading the whole article :)
    One day soon this argument will be good for the Higher Ed sector, but until then I will bite my tongue. 

  • Jerry_O

    Absolutely.  And, the district can lease them at even lower cost.  See my comment regarding the Moorseville, NC school district.

  • Danny

    Why does a text book have a lifespan of 6 years, but an ebook only one?

    Seriously fuzzy math: you have to upgrade your ebook every year, but not your text book? Can you recalculate the textbooks with 6 books per student per year

  • Buster

    Performance has absolutely nothing to do with my analysis. This is a post about the COST of ebooks vs textbooks. Not the educational benefits of either system. I even said that an interactive experience is better for education, but the costs of implementing that system are going to be a big hurdle for schools.

  • jsaligoe

    Why the assumption students don’t currently pay for textbooks in high school? Every year K-12 we pay textbook rental fees (and they are hefty). These fees reimburse the school districts for the costs of textbooks – thus it is the student/families that pay. As you mention, your analysis doesn’t look into other costs/benefits – fair enough. The topic is certainly worth evaluating, but it seems some key assumptions are flawed.

  • Tom Sextro

    In time, there will be some free textbooks available that are of high quality.  What if schools paid zero for textbooks?

  • FriarNurgle

    oops. edited
    Thanks

  • Pic Trader

    How can you even compare ” The Textbook” an outdated source of information upon delivery to an “iPad” or any device that offers an instant and updated source of information. Does quality of education have any value?  

    For example your story is an example of how a poor education can impact the quality of  information being offered. People with a better quality education would not have written such a ridiculous article. 

  • robsafuto

    The assumption that schools will have to outright purchase iPads at full retail price is a weak one at best. See the following story on MacRumors. 
    http://www.macrumors.com/2012/… 

    In short, a school district in North Carolina is paying Apple $215 per year to lease MacBook Airs. That being the case I could certainly see Apple doing the same lease on iPads for half of that since the iPad costs roughly half of what the bottom line Macbook Air costs. I imagine this is the approach that Apple will take rather than selling to schools at the full retail price. 

  • FriarNurgle

    Agreed. I still believe Apple could release an education only iPad. No camera and last gen processor could really put it in competition against paper books.

  • crateish

    The weight savings between a stack of textbooks and a single iPad would be worth just about any expense. Always have All your study materials, everywhere you go.

    Wish I would have had that option.

  • liuping

    Our kids have to buy their textbooks. You can sell some of them back, depending on condition, at the end of the year, but at a substantially lower cost.

  • 5imo

    They should, in the way they do it with the polycarbonate MacBook.

  • 5imo

    I strongly doubt they will reintroduce the first iPad with the 3Gs they just kept it around and downgraded it. unless that is what you meant to say?

  • Morialkar

    AND WHAT DOES IT CHANGE? when they buy a physical text book, they reuse it for at least 8-15 year, depending of the place and willing to give quality education. They can easily buy a set of iPad per Classroom, put the right book into it, and when students go up in levels, they leave the iPad behind, just as Dan said. They then go into the higher class to find, SURPRISE, an iPad with all the correct book necessary for his class! Isn’t it amazing?

  • lowtolerance

    $75 per textbook? I’d love to know which ass this number was pulled from. The state of California pegs the average cost of high school textbooks at $120 per book per pupil. Are the numbers in this infographic based on new textbooks, or bargain bin, outdated textbooks?

    And what about other school supplies, many of which could easily be supplanted by iPads? The state of Kentucky did a study in 2007 where they determined that the nationwide average cost of textbook and school supplies — considered together — was over $900 per student PER YEAR, up nearly 20% from 2003. I doubt the situation has improved much in the five years since.

  • CharliK

    Yep they are forgetting other supplies as well as workbooks etc.

    Not to mention the value of each kid having a fresh copy, possible updates etc.

  • CharliK

    The idea behind the math is that they will have to buy the ebooks for every student whereas one paper book as passed around 4-6 kids.

    But if the cost is 1/4 to 1/6 of that paper book then it’s a wash

  • vistarox

    I’m hoping that schools will announce some kind of iPad support even if they can’t buy one for every student. My son is starting to see lots of kids carrying around iPads in school with the intention of using them for learning. The problem is the school boards are refusing to support the devices. 

    And incase you’re wondering, the school is a public school in a fairly middle class neighbourhood.

  • vistarox

    Some if the history books in schools haven’t been updated since the mid 1990s. I would gladly pay 50% more so our students could have more accurate and relevant information. 

  • Fake Howard Kurtz

    This info graphic fails Math 101. School 1 only seems to have one grade or students only go through one year. School 2 has four grades or students go through four years. It’s not a like-for-like comparison.

  • PedroCaria

    Actually the graphic say they spend 2 billion last year on computer SOFTWARE, I find it very strange that HARDWARE is not mentioned, feels to me a bit like manipulation. 

  • AdamC

    Ok books are cheaper but they are dead end.

    But the iPad is shall we say magical. You can engage the students better with it thus getting them more interested with the learning process.

    Can it be done with a book, if possible then why the standard of education is going to the dogs.

    So give the iPad a chance.

  • AdamC

    Ok books are cheaper but they are dead end.

    But the iPad is shall we say magical. You can engage the students better with it thus getting them more interested with the learning process.

    Can it be done with a book, if possible then why the standard of education is going to the dogs.

    So give the iPad a chance.

  • Robert Daniels

    This comparison does not take in any of the future cost of technology. Technology is getting more advanced but cheaper also! Not to mention the reduced carbon footprint of reliance of trees (if that is what we are still using for paper) Then again after watching the Corning vision it seems that glass will be the new converging technology that can reduce much of the need of plastics/ trees etc.. Its time to embrace the future for what it is and know that we are on the cusp of CHANGE. Apple is just one part of the universal puzzle. Way to go Apple. I just hope many other companies take your lead. And to the investors out there who have their money locked in older technology and practices, you will only be misssing more opportunities. Shareholders  need to be more confident in their corporate partners and not pressuring  them to meeet the bottom line demands. As I would say …” F the shareholders… they will eventually get their invested monies, but it just may take a little longer…but the “Runs will COME”- 2012 Robert Daniels

  • CharliK

    Because most students don’t. Well not directly. The payment is via tax money. 

    Only those that go to private schools or are home schooled generally pay for their books. There are only a few schools that make students pay rental fees or even replacement fees for lost or damaged books. 

  • CharliK

    You raise an interesting point. For many courses textbooks would have to be updated every year to have accurate and up to date information. Perhaps even more than once a year. History and Social Studies books come to mind. So with paper that would be perhaps $100 a year per student. But an e-textbook could be half that price and students could continue to get updates well after that class was over. 

  • CharliK

    yep there is some dogs and cats games going on there. They look at just the text books in school one without other materials like notebooks, workbooks, lab sheets etc. And yet they look at iPads which are ‘other materials’ for school two. Also they make the possibly erroneous assumption that schools are buying and not leasing iPads or even that Apple charges them the full $500 cost. 

    Not to mention that there are many many grants out there for funding increased use of technology in schools but not many for paper based books. So who is to say that schools would be funding the iPads out of the tax payers money fully or even just in part. Between grants and perhaps making the students pay part of the cost just as they buy their own pencils, crayons, trapper keepers (or whatever is hip with kids today) already 

  • jsaligoe

    Perhaps this true in your area but it isn’t country-wide. We are in public schools and pay rental fees directly at the beginning of each school year. It is a statewide policy, and maximum textbook rental fees are set by our legislature.

About the author

Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Social Media Editor. Hailing from Roswell, New Mexico, but now spending his days in Phoenix, Arizona, he wastes most of his time eating burritos and reading Spanish romance novels. Twitter: @bst3r.

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