Apple's Textbook Initiative to Feature Strong K-12 Focus, Aid Publishers Large and Small

Bits and pieces of Apple's announcement plans for its education-focused media event to be held tomorrow are continuing to flow in, and Bloomberg now weighs in with its sources indicating that the company's new publishing tools will have a strong focus on shaking up the kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) textbook market.

At an event in New York tomorrow, Apple will announce a set of tools that make it easier to publish interactive textbooks and other digital educational content, said two people with knowledge of the announcement, who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

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.

Echoing some of what was covered in an Ars Technica report earlier this week, Bloomberg's sources claim that Apple's announcements will include support for a new ePub standard and tools to make it easier for both large publishers and self-publishers to bring their content to the iPad.

Apple’s new software is designed for a broad range of authors to be able to publish the content in a digital format, similar to what Amazon.com Inc. does with its direct publishing tools, said the people. Large publishers will be able to create digital versions of textbooks, with embedded graphics and video.

Apple also wants to empower “self-publishers” to create new kinds of teaching tools, said the people. Teachers could use it to design materials for that week’s lesson. Scientists, historians and other authors could publish professional-looking content without a deal with a publisher.

Apple's media event is scheduled to kick off at 10:00 AM Eastern / 7:00 AM Pacific tomorrow, with Eddy Cue and Roger Rosner expected to play prominent roles in the presentation.

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113 months ago

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.


Yeah, except ebooks usually cost exactly the same as printed books to buy, yet have zero resale value.

Time for greedy publishers to pass some of the savings they make through electronic distribution on to their customers.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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113 months ago
Don't school boards choose text books, and isn't it all based on lobbying and sweetheart deals?

How is Apple going to be able to penetrate this market?
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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113 months ago
You guys are missing one aspect of what goes on in the K-12 side of the textbook industry. Only a few states, mainly California and Texas, have large enough markets for publishers to specifically target books towards. They get whatever they want out of their curriculum, and other states are often forced to adapt their curriculums so they are able to make use of the books designed for the large states. Eliminating the need to print millions of copies of a textbook in order to turn a profit will give the other 48 states the freedom to determine their own curriculum. States like Colorado won't have to accept science texts that omit evolution just because some evangelical committee member in Texas was able to throw his weight around and get it eliminated from the curriculum in his state. This is where the revolution is. Finally providing every state, and even individual school districts, the ability to determine what to teach kids in THEIR schools, instead of having non-elected officials in another state ram it down their throats.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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113 months ago
Death to the 40-Pound Backpack!
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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113 months ago

Um, this won't be a problem in the long run. For advanced topics, graduate courses, maybe.

But even so. k-12 should all be open source. There is very little standing in the way of this. It would only take minimal organization.

The fact that school systems pay anything for these textbooks is a crime.


That's not a crime. Knowledge isn't free, and writing a good textbook is hard and should be rewarded.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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113 months ago

Yeah, except ebooks usually cost exactly the same as printed books to buy, yet have zero resale value.

Time for greedy publishers to pass some of the savings they make through electronic distribution on to their customers.


Oh. For some reason I thought this had something to do with creating an independent textbook industry, part of Steve Jobs' dream of changing public education or something.

If it's just a way to eliminate backpacks, yawn, I guess.

Isn't the resale value issue more about college text books? What happens to public school text books? I remember them just getting older and older, I used to enjoy looking in the front cover and seeing a log of students who had the book going back to the early 1970s.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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