With colleges re-opening, Apple sees 350,000 downloads of its new iBook e-textbooks

If you’re wondering if Apple’s new iBooks education initiative, only a few days old, will prove disruptive to the market yet, the answer is still unclear, but what is clear is that 350,000 e-textbooks have been downloaded through Apple’s iBookstore in just the first three days since the program was announced.

The “statistics” come via Global Equities Research, which monitors Apple’s iBook sales with a proprietary tracking system. The company has not revealed how that system works.

In addition to iBooks textbook download statistics, Global Equities Research added that 90,000 copies of iBooks Author, Apple’s free Mac-only e-book authoring tool, were downloaded during that same time span.

Last week, Apple unveiled e-textbooks for its iPad under the umbrella of its iBooks 2 app. The books are coming through McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which produce about 90 percent of the textbooks published.

As they are digital, these textbooks can be interactive, with video, 3D images, easy searching, and the ability to add notes and highlight text. Apple is charging $14.99 or less for the high school textbooks available so far, making them more affordable than their traditional counterparts, but since they are non-transferable, that means they must be repurchased annually.

As a standard print textbook has an estimated lifespan of 5 years for a $75 price, the outlay for districts and parents would seem about the same, but it’s unclear how much Apple is taking for each purchase. A good guess would probably be the 30 percent it takes for purchases from the App Store.

Apple hasn’t divulged its own download figures.