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Apple Storms the Textbook Market

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At an invitation-only press event at The Guggenheim Museum in New York City, Apple unveiled a three-pronged assault on the textbook market that some suggest could leave competitors out in the cold

The event, the first since the death of Apple’s visionary co-founder Steve Jobs, highlighted the company’s foray into the world of textbooks. Through iBooks 2, a new version of Apple’s digital bookstore, schools and students will be able to purchase textbooks that take full advantage of the firm’s revolutionary iPad and iPhone devices. Additionally, educators and experts will be able to create their own textbooks for the platform through a new app.

While not actual Apple employees, these Marines represent the tech firm's assault
on the textbook market.

By revealing exclusive partnerships with several heavyweights in the textbook publishing industry, Apple ensured that iBooks 2 will be stocked with titles that meet educational standards. Pearson, McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt, and DK have all signed on and have already produced several textbooks for the platform. Current estimates show that these publishers are responsible for 90 percent of the textbooks available.

Educational Tech expert and VP of Product Planing for Luidia, Jody Forehand said Apple's move is reflective of the educational market as a whole.

“Apple’s move today signals a larger trend in the education technology market," Foreland said.  "Apple’s  approach roots new tools in the technology consumers are already comfortable using.  Rather than create an added learning curve for educators by pushing them into a specific workflow, we technology providers must look at the tools that are already an integral part of the teacher’s life and enable educators to use those available resources and knowledge to be effective.”

In typical Apple fashion, the event wrapped up with “one more thing,” an expansion of the iTunes U service to include not only professorial lectures, but also syllabi and all classroom materials.

According to NBC, Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller, who led the event, said the goal is to reinvent the textbook. “Textbooks aren't the most ideal learning tool. They can be cumbersome, they get dog-eared, they suffer from wear, they're not interactive, and they're certainly not easily searchable. The iPad, on the other hand, is pretty darn portable, durable and searchable.”

While making textbooks available on the iPad seems a logical next step for Apple, the firm is taking the concept further by incorporating into textbooks features including movies, multi-touch gestures, links, lightning-quick searches, photo galleries, Q&A sections, manipulable 3-D models and other interactive elements. Schiller stunned those in attendance when he said that the cost of textbooks available via iBooks 2 will not exceed $14.99.

Even better than the fact that the books are relatively cheap: The apps to create, publish and purchase them are free.

 


Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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