Preview at WWDC likely in June, followed by September launch.
Hands-On Video With Apple's Digital Textbooks
Interacting with the books is a generally intuitive combination of tapping, swiping and pinching. You can pinch from any page to get out to the heading of that chapter, then drag along a bar on the bottom to quickly go from one chapter to the next. When you're looking at any page, you can get a closer view of any of the media there by simply pinching it. Tiny picture of an ant? Give it a nudge and it's full-screen. You can then swipe through galleries, play movies and interact with various other widgets that authors can drop in place.
As always with an Apple product announcement, the company has produced a promotional video complete with interviews of Apple executives and regular customers using their products. The video for the digital textbook includes teachers talking about how textbooks are out of date as soon as they are printed and how digital-savvy students expect more out of their learning materials.
Apple has also posted a gallery of the various elements that can be built-into interactive iBooks with the iBooks Author app, including HTML Modules, Keynote Presentations, 3D Images, and more.
Apple's initial focus for its textbook effort is on high school textbooks, with books priced at $14.99 or less. Authors can continually update their content, and the students get to keep their copies indefinitely. Books are available via the iBooks app, available as a free download from the App Store. [Direct Link]