McGraw-Hill CEO Credits Steve Jobs' Digital Textbook Vision Amid Evidence of Pre-iPad Interest

AllThingsD share some thoughts from McGraw-Hill CEO Terry McGraw, who during a Q&A session following yesterday's iBooks Textbooks media event described how the development was part of Steve Jobs' vision for what textbooks should be like.

Sitting and listening to all of this, I wish Steve Jobs was here. I was with him in June this past year, and we were talking about some of the benchmarks, and some of the things that we were trying to do together. He should be here. He probably is [gesturing up and around]. This was his vision, this was his idea, and it all had to do with the iPad.

Jobs' interest in textbooks is of course now well-known, with Jobs himself being quoted in Walter Isaacson's authorized biography as wanting to revolutionize the textbook industry and as having had conversations with publishers such as Pearson about the possibilities.

itunes textbooks
Part of Peters' 2008 iContest presentation on digital textbooks

One other interesting tidbit on the history of digital textbooks at Apple was shared yesterday by a former Apple intern. As related to The Wirecutter, former intern Joseph Peters proposed the idea of digital textbooks back in 2008 as part of an "iContest" in which Apple interns gathered to pitch ideas to mid-level executives for feedback. The textbook ideas suggested by Peters and his group were well-received by Apple's judges, with the team being awarded a free MacBook Air and a meeting with higher-level management to discuss the ideas.

Anyway, we presented and answered the Q&A pretty flawlessly. I mean they said they really liked it and every other presentation received mostly sarcastic remarks.

I remember answering a handful of questions and getting the impression that the exec's were totally on board. It was a pretty awesome feeling. [...]

At the end, they announced that we won, they gave us all a MacBook Air and it was great (for interns anyway). I was more excited about the opportunity to talk to more people about the idea. They scheduled a meeting with John Couch, head of Education a few days later. We met John and a few the people on his team in a small board room and we just gave the same pitch as before.

Peters does not suggest that his group's idea was the genesis of Apple's textbook plans, but it does provide interesting insight into a bit of the intern experience at Apple and reveals that Apple was indeed interested in the textbook idea as far back as 2008, more than a year before the debut of the iPad.

Top Rated Comments

Small White Car Avatar
137 months ago
That's one of the reasons Jobs was so successful. You can tell that he spent years thinking about things like digital textbooks before he started thinking about the iPad.

Most of us weren't sure what an iPad was for when we first saw it. But Steve had already been dreaming up answers to that for many, many years.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nwcs Avatar
137 months ago
Yep, it's part of what has made Apple successful over the last decade. They understood the purpose of a device and the content before the device. A lot of the "me too" device manufacturers only create/copy a device without regard or concern about what happens after the sale. I don't think it's as simple as Apple's ecosystem vs everyone else but Apple's focus on usage and content rather than specs and customization. In other words, Apple has a purpose in mind for the devices they create. Many of the other companies out there have no purpose in mind for the devices they make other than to sell them.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ajcadoo Avatar
137 months ago
iTextbooks. The happiest winner: trees.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
basesloaded190 Avatar
137 months ago
I really think we are just beginning to see the actual capabilities of the ipad or any tablet for the matter.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
unlimitedx Avatar
137 months ago
Sorry - but I disagree. The idea of digital books and interactive media are no brainers. And well before the iPad came out or was even thought of - such ideas were written about in books, shown in movies and on TV.

I'm happy to give credit where credit is due - but not to your extent on this matter.
Lots of people have great ideas, but not everyone has what it takes to follow through and execute on those ideas.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kid A Avatar
137 months ago
iTextbooks. The happiest winner: trees.

yeah, but those iTrees in the iForest are screwed. ;)
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

airpods pro 2 1

AirPods Pro 2 No Longer Expected to Feature Built-In Heart Rate or Body Temperature Sensor

Sunday July 3, 2022 8:07 pm PDT by
While past rumors have indicated the upcoming second-generation AirPods Pro will feature a built-in heart rate and body temperature sensor, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has cast doubt on those rumors turning out to be true, saying instead such a feature is unlikely to come anytime soon. "Over the past few months, there have been rumors about this year's model gaining the ability to determine a...
top stories 2jul2022

Top Stories: M2 MacBook Air Release Date, New HomePod Rumor, and More

Saturday July 2, 2022 6:00 am PDT by
The M2 MacBook Pro has started making its way into customers' hands and we're learning more about how it performs in a variety of situations, but all eyes are really on the upcoming M2 MacBook Air which has seen a complete redesign and should be arriving in a couple of weeks. Other top stories this week included a host of product rumors including additional M2 and even M3 Macs, an updated...
Apple Watch 8 Unreleased Feature Thumb

Apple Watch Series 8 Model Rumored to Feature 5% Larger Display

Monday July 4, 2022 5:50 am PDT by
Apple is working on an Apple Watch Series 8 model with a larger display, according to DSCC's Ross Young and Haitong International Securities's Jeff Pu. In October last year, Young suggested that the Apple Watch Series 8 could come in three display sizes. Now, responding to a query about the rumor on Twitter, Young claims that the additional display size joining the Apple Watch lineup will be ...
intel go pc justin long

Windows Laptop Makers 'Worried' About New MacBook Air Impacting Sales

Tuesday July 5, 2022 6:57 am PDT by
The upcoming launch of Apple's redesigned MacBook Air with the M2 chip has some Windows laptop manufacturers "worried" that sales of Intel-based laptops will be negatively affected, according to industry sources cited by DigiTimes. "A Wintel brand vendor pointed out that at a price point of US$1,000-$1,500, the MacBook Air will crowd out other high-end notebooks," the report claims, with...
Apple Watch Series 8 What We Know Feature

Apple Watch Series 8 Might Be Able to Tell If You Have a Fever

Sunday July 3, 2022 6:36 am PDT by
The upcoming Apple Watch Series 8 will be able to tell a wearer if it believes they have a fever due to a higher than normal body temperature thanks to a new built-in sensor, according to Bloomberg's reliable Mark Gurman. Writing in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman says that the Apple Watch Series 8 will feature a new body temperature sensor, given that the sensor passes ...
macbook air m2

Exclusive: Apple Plans to Launch MacBook Air With M2 Chip on July 15

Wednesday June 29, 2022 5:23 pm PDT by
The redesigned MacBook Air with the all-new M2 Apple silicon chip will be available for customers starting Friday, July 15, MacRumors has learned from a retail source. The new MacBook Air was announced and previewed during WWDC earlier this month, with Apple stating availability will begin in July. The MacBook Air features a redesigned body that is thinner and lighter than the previous...
European Commisssion

EU Approves Landmark Legislation to Regulate Apple and Other Big Tech Firms

Tuesday July 5, 2022 5:53 am PDT by
European Union lawmakers have approved landmark legislation to heavily regulate Apple, Google, Meta, and other big tech firms. The Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA) were proposed by the European Commission in December 2020. Now, collected in a "Digital Services Package," the legislation has been formally adopted by the European Parliament and seeks to address...