Apple starts selling interactive iPad textbooks

January 23, 2012

Isn’t it obvious? ebooks win … Heck have you lugged a half dozen of out of date textbooks for anytime … vs an iPad???

Apple Inc. on Thursday launched its attempt to make the iPad a replacement for a satchel full of textbooks by starting to sell electronic versions of a handful of standard high-school books.

The electronic textbooks, which include “Biology” and “Environmental Science” from Pearson and “Algebra 1” and “Chemistry” from McGraw-Hill, contain videos and other interactive elements.

But it’s far from clear that even a company with Apple’s clout will be able to reform the primary and high-school textbook market. The printed books are bought by schools, not students, and are reused year after year, which isn’t possible with the electronic versions. New books are subject to lengthy state approval processes, making the speed and ease with which ebooks can be published less of an advantage.

Major textbook publishers have been making electronic versions of their products for years, but until recently, there hasn’t been any hardware suitable to display them. PCs are too expensive and cumbersome to be good e-book machines for students. Dedicated e-book readers like the Kindle have small screens and can’t display color. IPads and other tablet computers work well, but iPads cost at least $499. Apple didn’t reveal any new program to defray the cost of getting the tablet computers into the hands of students.

All this means textbooks have lagged the general adoption of e-books, even when counting college-level works that students buy themselves. Forrester Research said e-books accounted for only 2.8 percent of the $8 billion U.S. textbook market in 2010.

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Tomorrow’s Apple event to focus on digital textbook publishing tools, says Bloomberg

January 18, 2012

As Apple Inc. prepares to unveil a new digital-textbook service on Thursday, the spotlight is falling on its vice president who is leading core aspects of the new service: Roger Rosner.

According to people familiar with the matter, Mr. Rosner—Apple’s vice president for productivity applications, in charge of its iWork document, spreadsheet and presentation software—is closely involved in developing the new digital-textbook service. Apple last week said it was holding an event in New York City on Thursday for an announcement, which people familiar with it say it’s about textbook e-books.

And selling more iPads … The plans, to be unveiled by Apple Internet software chief Eddy Cue, are aimed at broadening the educational materials available for the iPad, especially for students in kindergarten to 12th grade, the people said. By setting its sights on the $10 billion-a-year textbook industry, Apple is using the tablet to encourage students to shun costly tomes that weigh down backpacks in favor of less-expensive, interactive digital books that can be updated anywhere via the Web.

We’ve already seen some rumors about what Apple has in store for its education-minded announcementin New York City tomorrow, and now Bloomberg is out with a report of its own that backs up some of those earlier rumblings and offers a few new details. Citing two people with knowledge of the announcement, it says that the main focus of the event will be a set of tools that will “make it easier to publish interactive textbooks and other digital educational content.” That not only includes tools for the big textbook publishers, but self-publishers as well — Bloomberg gives the example of teachers preparing materials for that week’s lesson, or scientists and historians who could publish professional-looking content without a publishing deal. According to Bloomberg’s sources, Apple is expected to use a modified version of the ePub standard for the content, and that it’s main focus is on the K-12 market.

Publishers hardest hit …

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