You may not be able to afford it, but Apple's textbook transformation is pretty neat. Its hands-on time, class. Find a cosy seat, use your indoor voices and read along with Gizmodo. Today's lesson: science!
We haven't found the iBooks 2 experience to be dramatically different from the usual iPad magazine feel — animations, videos, nifty transitions. But being able to use your finger as an instant highlighter, and seeing your iPad feed you instant study cards on the fly is pretty great. If you've got the cash for the iPad student lifestyle, you'll be a studying machine.
Among the textbooks we checked out, performance was decent on first generation iPad. Books didn't load instantly, but gliding from page to page and loading graphics was as smooth as you'd expect on any iPad. Annoyingly, touching one book doesn't do the same thing as when you touch another. Sometimes you tap to expand, sometimes you need to finger spread. It's uneven, but once you're settled with a textbook — presumably one you'll be using for a semester, at least — there's very little learning curve at all.
These textbooks are pretty, graceful, and have all the same learnin' as their paper predecessors. Now we just need to wait until they're an actual mainstream option, because every kid deserves a textbook like this.