Interesting: Apple and Digital Textbooks

Apple is making an education-related announcement this week. It might be big news. Or might not be. Sometimes, speculation can be fun (even for those of us that don’t do that sort of thing for a living).

The most intriguing bit of maybe/maybe-not news comes from Ars Technica (“Apple to announce tools, platform to ‘digitally destroy’ textbook publishing”), and the possibility of aGarageBand for e-books.”

Hmm. Digital textbook publishing — with perhaps few exceptions — is not where it could be. So, if no one else has already, why not Apple to come up with a new, revolutionary platform for content creation?

“At the same time, however, authoring standards-compliant e-books (despite some promises to the contrary) is not as simple as running a Word document of a manuscript through a filter. The current state of software tools continues to frustrate authors and publishers alike, with several authors telling Ars that they wish Apple or some other vendor would make a simple app that makes the process as easy as creating a song in GarageBand.”

The Wall Street Journal (“Apple to Give a Lesson About Textbooks”) has some additional guesswork, inferring that forging new ground in the digital textbook market was a personal project of the late, great Steve Jobs —

“Founder Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he wanted to transform the textbook industry by hiring writers to create digital versions and making them a feature of the iPad.

Mr. Jobs, who reportedly had been meeting with publishers such as Pearson PLC, believed all books should be “digital and interactive, tailored to each student and providing feedback in real time,” according to Mr. Isaacson’s book.”

On the other hand, people in at least some circles are speculating that this might be much ado about something (Fortune: “Apple’s Education Event is Getting Seriously Over-hyped”)

More news on this soon, I’m sure.


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I run the ThinkLab at the University of Cambridge, and research digital habits, productivity, and wellbeing.

tyler shores cambridge

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