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

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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.

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

WestonHarvey1

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Jan 9, 2007
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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?
 

firestarter

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Dec 31, 2002
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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.
 

WestonHarvey1

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Jan 9, 2007
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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.
 

MacAddict1978

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Jun 21, 2006
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"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."


That would be a great idea/strategy, except K-12 kids don't buy their text books. Nice if an entire school district jumps on board.

I really think they should be going after the college text book market, where students students have total control in how they purchase and use their text books. That would be the most logical first step... so it makes me wonder if the majority of publishers of college texts won't play ball.

For K-12 though, this could be a game changer in the long run. States generally dictate a mandatory curriculum. If assembling texts were easy, school districts might be able to join together and do it themselves and save tons of money. Oh wait.... there's the bureaucracy thing that always screws that up...
 

Tinyluph

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Dec 27, 2011
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I originally thought this would be very college oriented. As much as I would have loved to carry around an iPad when I was in high school instead of a bunch of textbooks I can't see how any of my teachers would have let that happen. How are they supposed to control whether I'm looking at my textbook or playing Angry Birds?
 

samcraig

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re: Costs.

The books might be cheaper. That saves the school money. But if the school doesn't provide an iPad - it's definitely not a cheaper solution for the student who doesn't pay for books (pre-College) to begin with.
 

alent1234

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Jun 19, 2009
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"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."


That would be a great idea/strategy, except K-12 kids don't buy their text books. Nice if an entire school district jumps on board.

I really think they should be going after the college text book market, where students students have total control in how they purchase and use their text books. That would be the most logical first step... so it makes me wonder if the majority of publishers of college texts won't play ball.

For K-12 though, this could be a game changer in the long run. States generally dictate a mandatory curriculum. If assembling texts were easy, school districts might be able to join together and do it themselves and save tons of money. Oh wait.... there's the bureaucracy thing that always screws that up...
unless they make the books a lot cheaper no student is going to buy an ipad just to buy college books

going k-12 they can keep the prices close to the current level but no physical books means the school districts can save money on not having to keep thousands of books
 

samcraig

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Jun 22, 2009
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I originally thought this would be very college oriented. As much as I would have loved to carry around an iPad when I was in high school instead of a bunch of textbooks I can't see how any of my teachers would have let that happen. How are they supposed to control whether I'm looking at my textbook or playing Angry Birds?
The same way now they can't see if you're tweeting/facebooking or taking notes in their class with your laptop I imagine
 

guzhogi

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Aug 31, 2003
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Wherever my feet take me…
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.

That would be a great idea/strategy, except K-12 kids don't buy their text books. Nice if an entire school district jumps on board.

I really think they should be going after the college text book market, where students students have total control in how they purchase and use their text books. That would be the most logical first step... so it makes me wonder if the majority of publishers of college texts won't play ball.

For K-12 though, this could be a game changer in the long run. States generally dictate a mandatory curriculum. If assembling texts were easy, school districts might be able to join together and do it themselves and save tons of money. Oh wait.... there's the bureaucracy thing that always screws that up...
As far as the updating goes, I wonder how they will "be updated anywhere via the Web." Two questions about that:

1) How will this be done? Can a school buy a bunch of iPads & push the updates to them?

2) How much will this cost? In a school that has several hundred kids & several hundred iPads & book, that could get expensive quickly.


unless they make the books a lot cheaper no student is going to buy an ipad just to buy college books

going k-12 they can keep the prices close to the current level but no physical books means the school districts can save money on not having to keep thousands of books
Don't forget it's not all about money saving, but also weight & space saving. When I was in high school, I didn't have time to go to my locker between every class. I just went before school, lunch and after school so I had to carry a bunch of books in my backpack, making it pretty heavy. Plus, in classrooms, think how many books a literature teacher might have in his/her room. A lot of space could be saved if they were all put on a single iPad.
 
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JGowan

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I think that it's a crying to shame that education has been this way (buy book, take class, sell book back) -- If the book wouldn't have been so expensive, many books should be kept, especially in your field, to refer back throughout your life. A wealth of knowledge forgotten and with no access to simply because the person needed to recoup costs.

Of course, many or most books would be sold back even for a couple of dollars. Most wouldnt consider keeping the books anyway. I suppose it doesn't matter.

However -- if books can be kept now digitally, think of the effect. You can now continue to learn from a book that, let's face it, probably was only minimally used during that semester. I think people could be a lot smarter because of this whole iPad/eTextbook thing.

Excited to see how far it will come by the time my 8 year old heads for high school and college.
 

Cougarcat

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WestonHarvey1 said:
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?
Good question. In the biography jobs talks about hiring their own textbook writers and offering free textbooks with every iPad purchase. This would allow them to bypass state certification of textbooks, and allow school boards to just buy iPads.

But if they are working with publishers as seems to be the case, this could not happen. It's an interesting question.

I hope these authoring tools let you create platform agnostic ebooks, and Apple introduces iBooks for OS X / windows. Most students don't own iPads. I'll be surprised if they do this, though.
 

Supermacguy

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Jan 3, 2008
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And what will happen to this "book" once it can't be opened by some newer or older technology?
Will school districts be charged MORE because every year new students must buy "new" e-books? The idea of updates sounds nice, but there are clearly some books that don't need many revisions.
I applaud the possibility of having animations or interaction in certain books (physics, geography). But I wonder about how easy they will be to read, as in physically read. If the pad's not charged up, no reading. Not to mention breakages of the 'Pad.
And will all the newly added interactivity really bolster learning and critical thinking? Not just memorizing facts, but learning as a process and way of thinking.
It's all rhetorical till we see what happens in a day I guess!
 

dashiel

macrumors 6502a
Nov 12, 2003
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How are they supposed to control whether I'm looking at my textbook or playing Angry Birds?
Parental controls

The iPads would almost certainly be issued by the school rather than privately owned. The iPads would be imaged at the beginning of each term with the required Apps/Books. I would guess the App Store, iTunes, Installing and Deleting Apps would all be disabled. Probably only one e-mail account tied to the schools domain would be allowed and would only be able to send/receive e-mail from the school’s domain in grades K-8. Pretty easy really.
 
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AppleInLVX

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Jan 12, 2010
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So... this is new software then? I'm wondering if this is an Apple answer to Adobe's discontinuation of Frame Maker for OSX a few years back. Or if it's a new Quark-type thing.

Obviously Apple doesn't think that Pages is up for this task. I guess I'm wondering exactly what this thing IS. Up to now, I figured it was a distribution thing, like iBooks for education. But now they're talking about actual software? I don't get it.
 

alent1234

macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2009
5,659
122
I think that it's a crying to shame that education has been this way (buy book, take class, sell book back) -- If the book wouldn't have been so expensive, many books should be kept, especially in your field, to refer back throughout your life. A wealth of knowledge forgotten and with no access to simply because the person needed to recoup costs.

Of course, many or most books would be sold back even for a couple of dollars. Most wouldnt consider keeping the books anyway. I suppose it doesn't matter.

However -- if books can be kept now digitally, think of the effect. You can now continue to learn from a book that, let's face it, probably was only minimally used during that semester. I think people could be a lot smarter because of this whole iPad/eTextbook thing.

Excited to see how far it will come by the time my 8 year old heads for high school and college.
there is so much free information on the internet there is no need to keep books around for years.
 

jaison13

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Jun 20, 2003
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pittsburgh
unless they announce at least one or two of the major book publishers being on board this won't do much. as far as k-12 goes if you had the book publishers on board i'd imagine it still wouldn't completely eliminate text books, but if you had an iPad and went to a school that used a certain text i would think it would be free or extremely cheap for a student with an iPad. since the school would still be buying textbooks for he rest of the students.
 

parseckadet

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Dec 13, 2010
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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.
 

Jaredly

macrumors member
Jan 28, 2010
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For all those wondering how a school can afford so many iPads, well apple gives schools and extremely heavy discount especially if they buy in bulk. My mom is a teacher and they jujst got 100 or so iMacs to make 3 computer labs and she said each iMac only cost her school about $500.00. So if apple can do the same discount with iPads I can definitely see a lot of schools getting on board.

The only problem I see is how are you going to do this in urban school districts. Take NYC for example. How is all of NYC public schools going to police the iPads. There would be just an enormous amount of iPads to keep track of. (according to wikipedia there are 1.1 million student that attend nyc public school).
 

WestonHarvey1

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Jan 9, 2007
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unless they make the books a lot cheaper no student is going to buy an ipad just to buy college books
Did you go to college? Do you remember how heavy those bastards are?

We still need a solution to the "flipping" problem. When you've spent enough time with a textbook, your fingers eventually know where things are and the binding seems to form a "memory" of most visited pages. You can flip to relevant sections easily, often without even having to add little flags or bookmarks.

It is a lot harder to navigate an eBook. You can search for text, hyperlink through an index, or set your own bookmarks, but none of these interactions are actually *faster*.