Major textbook publishers ink e-textbook deals for Apple iPad, iBookstore

“Major textbook publishers have struck deals with software company ScrollMotion Inc. to adapt their textbooks for the electronic page, as the industry embraces a hope that digital devices such as Apple Inc.’s iPad will transform the classroom,” Jeffrey A, Trachtenberg and Yukari Iwatani Kane report for The Wall Street Journal.

“The publishers are tapping the know-how of ScrollMotion Inc. to develop textbook applications and test-prep and study guides for the iPad,” Trachtenberg and Kane report. “‘People have been talking about the impact of technology on education for 25 years. It feels like it is really going to happen in 2010,’ said Rik Kranenburg, group president of higher education for the education unit of McGraw-Hill Cos. and one of the publishers involved in the project. Other publishers include Houghton Mifflin Harcourt K-12, which is a unit of Education Media & Publishing Group Ltd.; Pearson PLC’s Pearson Education, and Washington Post Co.’s Kaplan Inc., known for its test-prep and study guides.”

“Though Apple didn’t outline its strategy to target the educational sector with its iPad last week, people familiar with Apple’s thinking have said that the iPad’s use in schools was one of the focal points of discussions in developing the product,” Trachtenberg and Kane report. “In its exploration of electronic book technology, it thought particularly about how it could re-invent textbooks, these people said. Apple declined to comment on the role of textbooks on the iPad. Apple has an edge in the educational sector becauseits Macintosh computers have always enjoyed a strong following in the academic sphere, and it already offers educational audio and video content through its iTunes U service.”

“A closely held New York-based firm, ScrollMotion has already developed applications for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch. ScrollMotion takes digital files provided by publishers for the iPad, adapts them to fit on the device, and then adds enhancements such as a search function, dictionaries, glossaries, interactive quizzes and page numbers,” Trachtenberg and Kane report. “The features of its iPad deal with publishers include applications to let students play video, highlight text, record lectures, take printed notes, search the text, and participate in interactive quizzes to test how much they’ve learned and where they may need more work.”

Full article here.

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  1. @Predrag – I think the textbook worlds fantasy is leasing, not purchase. You would buy the rights to the book for six months or so, then it would self-destruct like a Mission Impossible mission assignment tape.

    I see a different model. The book publishing threshold just got lower than even a music publishers. Textbooks are dead. The idea of textbook publishing as a separate business died with them. Think of the emergence of iTunes University.

  2. I’m really looking foward to the iPad. . . but for students, it’s a non-starter until multitasking comes around.

    Think about it: how can a student be expected to take notes in class if they can’t also be Skypeing and surfing Facebook at the same time?? It’s just not reasonable.

  3. Cute, Grigoryi, but ya got it wrong. Not the part about multi-tasking being important, the part about what they’ll NEED to be doing all-at-the-same-time. “Class … please open your text to ‘Page 123’ …”, and then the teacher starts to talk and the students to take notes. Except for the losers who are texting or the “rebels” who are listening to “t00nz”. How very “grown up” and “independent” they are. <snicker>
    You need to be able to read the text and type notes almost simultaneously. Else it doesn’t work very well.

  4. Billy Bob, yeah … you can certainly buy all your kids’ books for the price of one iPad. What was he thinking?
    And … what about all those people who will pay for it even if they don’t have kids in school? Where’s the savings there? And, by the way, how will the teacher know the student is reading the text, not a “graphic novel”?
    I guess they’ll just have to chalk some of the expense up to the convenience of it all. And having fart apps available. And Solitaire.

  5. Note taking will not become obsolete as the physical act of writing information down uses a different part of the brain for information retention & easy access – essentially a “save file and remember where it is” function.
    Simply listening to a recording or a live lecture and not taking notes is far less effective and reliable at holding and then retrieving the information from memory.

  6. @Billy Bob Gaits

    Yea, those new hard cover books are always available for $9.99.

    I don’t know what planet you live on, but go to the bookstore and look at new release hard cover books. They are more like $25 to $35.

    Online they are $12.23 to $28.46. Apple is looking at $15.99 doesn’t seem out of line to me.

  7. its the RIAA all over again
    pirate books are free or pay 14.99
    hmmm….i want 2000 books almost $30000
    geez i think piracy is fairest way to buy books ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  8. @Think: And textbooks run about $40 to $50 minimum; used not that much less as the bookstore and buyback services take their cuts. Even if the ebook versions cost about $25 or $30, would still be a significant savings not to mention easier transport. And if the instructor wants he can plug his own iPad in a projector and display relevant passages…or just use Keynote for his lectures.

  9. @lurker: Perhaps a two-tier pricing policy; lower price to “lease” book for the term (school would specify term ending date, probably a week after finals) and higher price for people who want to keep the book (especially books that might be a good reference later, like some math books or programming texts).

  10. I can see a good market for scientific textbooks. Most books, when they come out, have chapters that have already been made obsolete by recent discoveries. With a dead tree book, you have to wait for five years for the next edition that will hopefully address the problem. With a PadBook, you just get an update whenever a revised chapter is ready. Say, sixty bucks for the book, and five bucks for the annual update.
    Same for scientific journals. Online subscriptions are not very popular with many scholars, as they miss the browsing experience they have when the hold the physical issue. Also, the landscape mode of laptops does not make for a good reading. Enter the iPad. You just get your subscription as email attachment and you can once again enjoy the reading of a journal. Or many journals. At least 15 GB of them.

  11. I hope Apple will develop a good note-taking utility that runs in parallel with the reader. When studying, you need to be able to set multiple bookmarks, highlight text and make your own notes – then view these in a single stream with links back to the original book.

    Then it would be cool to be able to escalate those notes to a document ( essay or just own notes ) and even turn highlighted text into formal references.

    Just a reader is a bit lame for study, but this kind of workflow optimization adds a lot of value and is, unfortunately, where Apple often fall down.

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