Apple has premiered iBooks 2 for the iPad, featuring iBooks textbooks, an entirely new kind of interactive textbook. It’s available now at the Apple App Store.

iBooks textbooks offer iPad users fullscreen textbooks with interactive animations, diagrams, photos, videos, navigation and more. They can be kept up to date, don’t weigh down a backpack and never have to be returned.

Education services companies including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill and Pearson will deliver educational titles on the iBookstore with most priced at US$14.99 or less. With the new iBooks Author, a free authoring tool available starting today, anyone with a Mac can create iBooks textbooks.

“Education is deep in Apple’s DNA and iPad may be our most exciting education product yet,” says Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With 1.5 million iPads already in use in education institutions, including over 1,000 one-to-one deployments, iPad is rapidly being adopted by schools across the US and around the world. Now with iBooks 2 for iPad, students have a more dynamic, engaging and truly interactive way to read and learn, using the device they already love.”

With iBooks Author authors and publishers of any size can start creating with Apple-designed templates that feature a wide variety of page layouts. iBooks Author lets you add your own text and images by dragging and dropping, and with the Multi-Touch widgets you can add interactive photo galleries, movies, Keynote presentations and 3D objects.