Apple 'education' announcement: GarageBand for textbooks?

Apple 'education' announcement: GarageBand for textbooks?

Summary: Details of Apple's education announcement on Thursday are beginning to leak. A digital textbook model is likely to be unveiled, but how Apple deals with European issues is still unclear.


Apple, as per usual, is keeping its cards close to its chest. It is becoming increasingly clear that the education sector will be at the forefront of Apple's announcement, but what specifically is still under close guard.

The announcement on Thursday could "upend" the textbook distribution model, according to ZDNet's Larry Dignan, perhaps making way for an iTextbooks feature. It could expand out the existing iBooks digital publishing model to a wider circle of markets.

Sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal claim that Apple has been working with publisher McGraw-Hill since June on the upcoming announcement.

The choice of McGraw-Hill seems to be a carefully crafted one. Whether or not the publisher has something Apple wants or needs, it is not on the list of companies being investigated for "cartel" behaviour as described by the European Commission's antitrust authority.

While Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is thought to be one of the "most affected" by an Apple textbook announcement, Pearson was also named as one of the potential casualties to an interactive textbook market. Penguin, a publisher owned by UK-based Pearson Group was also named by the Commission as part of the antitrust suit. It could be seen that by reaching out to other publishers mitigates the damage somewhat.

The Commission is investigating five major publishers, and whether they were "helped" by Apple as part of its iBooks service for iOS devices, and pushed competitors out as a result.

ZDNet's Jason D. O'Grady puts it simply: "Publishers will use the iPad [presumably also other iOS devices] as the delivery vehicle and the Apple Store as the cash register". But if Apple were to take a 30 percent cut of all sales, publishers would "barely bat an eyelash" as textbook publishers are eager to hit the digital market hard.

Meanwhile, sources told Ars Technica that Apple will unveil a new "platform" to allow others and self-publishers to create digital textbooks, effectively "destroying" the current model. It was likened to "making the process as easy as creating a song in GarageBand", hinting that it will allow anyone and everyone to participate in the market.

In Walter Isaccson's biography of the late Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs had "set his sights on textbooks", believing that the $8 billion a year business was "ripe for destruction", as sister site CNET highlights.

There are yet no substantive rumours surrounding the eagerly anticipated "one more thing", or whether there will even be one. That, unfortunately, we have no idea about. But rule out an iPad 3 or an iPhone 5 announcement. It would be in bad form to announce a product that outshines the main focus of the event itself.

Image source: ZDNet.


Topics: Enterprise Software, Apple, Security

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  • RE: Apple 'education' announcement: GarageBand for textbooks?

    Only the richest areas would have an iPad for school.
    • RE: Apple 'education' announcement: GarageBand for textbooks?

      @Peter Perry
      Do the poorest areas have a desktop or laptop per child?
    • RE: Apple 'education' announcement: GarageBand for textbooks?

      @Peter Perry Interesting theory. From what I understand this seems to be aimed more at a college and university level than at a primary or secondary school level. Although if this winds up going to a primary or secondary school I'm sure there are school systems that would have iPads available for students like Henrico Co VA did for Macs - and later Dell laptops.
  • RE: Apple 'education' announcement: GarageBand for textbooks?

    What exactly does this mean? Can each instructor or professor create their own "textbook" specifically for the class they are teaching? That would be great for the faculty. I'm guessing Apple would provide a set of tools to help in the creation. Homework assignments and "homework help" could become part of the digital book as well as audio, video, etc.. Over a period of time, a pretty good textbook could be created and updated.
    Prime Detailer
  • RE: Apple 'education' announcement: GarageBand for textbooks?

    Sounds like the perfect time to introduce a one more thing annoucement for an "iBook" device. A smaller lighter and cheaper iPad device (or larger iPod) with retina display and Siri, that's more suited for eBooks and consumption. It will be a new category in the iOS family of devices for publishers and developers to target and could sell like hotcakes.
    • Textbooks on a small screen is DOA

      especially in math and the sciences where you need the larger area to properly show off charts, equations and diagrams.
      • RE: Apple 'education' announcement: GarageBand for textbooks?


        Math textbooks are often smaller than iPads, at least the extensive collection we have here.

        So an iPad would be an improvement over many traditional textbooks.

        iPhone size screens are now hard for me to read sometimes, but then I am not college age any more.
    • Textbooks require a larger screen, not smaller. Look at the Kindle.

      @dave95. It's far more likely that they will keep the current iPad format and increase the resolution for textbooks, which they're planning to do anyway. There are far too many diagrams, formulas, and footnotes for them to try to go smaller. The constant pinch&zoom would be disruptive to the flow of using it. When Amazon embraced electronic textbooks, they created a larger version of the Kindle to accommodate these issues.
  • So buy a iPad and then buy books?

    So other then making Apple richer and the educational book publishers richer because they can save on physical book costs . Who is going to benefit? many schools face budget cuts and so they are not even buying books let alone iPads and e Books. So far eBooks have not saved a lot of money for the buyer. Even though costs have to be saved because of the lack of material costs. Maybe Apple will have a deal, but what's the deal for the $500 iPad? That can buy a lot of books?
    • RE: Apple 'education' announcement: GarageBand for textbooks?

      @jscott418 $500 for the iPad then maybe $30-40 for the books? Sounds like a good deal to me.
      • RE: Apple 'education' announcement: GarageBand for textbooks?


        Really? Spend $500 to read a $40 book? Uhhh, I'll go with the $40 book thanks.

        The day universities start mandating ANY kind of tech to participate in their over priced, and over rated educational system is a bad day for the future. Yes, schools should be equipped with technology since it is so integrated into our daily lives, but this is a solution looking for a problem. It is Apple leveraging an iTunes monopoly to get into yet another market (I'll bet iTunes is required to sync your books to your device!)
      • RE: Apple 'education' announcement: GarageBand for textbooks?

        @cartman00000001 $30-40 for the books, plural? That's far less than cost, but- for how many books per class times how many different subjects? Publishers charge a fee for every e-book copy sold plus Apple will add a fee on top of cost-from-publisher for providing it. The final cost would be far more than $30-40 PER book. I suppose Apple could ptovide the texts at publisher cost; they can certainly afford that, off ipad sales alone. Then again, I've never known Apple to provide something they pay to you for free out of the goodness of its cold corporate heart.
        And ipads for textbook storage? Really? Will Apple replace all your lost textbooks when your fragile, nearly delicate ipad is dropped, crushed in a backpack, sat on, stepped on, or damaged in any of the many, many ways that young people can destroy things?
    • RE: Apple 'education' announcement: GarageBand for textbooks?


      So much material on iTunes is free.

      It will be up to the publishers to decide what to charge, a University/College/School could easily decide not to charge for any book it publishes itself.

      Look at the material on iTunesU already - so much free courseware.

      Of course the price of iPads will come down over time, it already has.
    • RE: Apple 'education' announcement: GarageBand for textbooks?

      @jscott418 When I was in grad school, I spent $1800 in one semester on books. So yes, the iPad plus ebooks sounds like a great way to save some money. The big question is whether the books will be a lot less expensive. If they charge the same as regular textbooks, then there needs to be a public outcry of epic proportions. I have a feeling this is why Apple is creating easy to use authoring tools. Currently, there is little or no competition and widespread price fixing. Letting indies or professors easily self-publish will mean true competition. It's going to be the app store for textbooks.
      • RE: Apple 'education' announcement: GarageBand for textbooks?

        @BillDem If I understand you BillDem, you believe that people will self-publish electronic textbooks that will compete wil current texts in use. First, that isn't going to happen, at least no time soon (as in this decade or the next). Second, anything written for commercial use with can only be sold if you get a signed contract with Apple and the final determination of whether or not you can even sell your own work is Apple's decision. If they decide not to buy it first, or they could simply refuse to allow you to sell any portion of to anyone else ever. Any work of any nature created with Apple's ePub software belongs to Apple, not you. So, I wouldn't hold my breath for a major breakthrough on book costs, but the books in use now will admittedly, cost less. Unless, of course, you break, lose, or have stolen from you your ipad...
  • RE: Apple 'education' announcement: GarageBand for textbooks?

    JSCOTT418 - " but what's the deal for the $500 iPad? That can buy a lot of books? "

    Last time I bought them for engineering classes, $500 bought about 4 books.
    • RE: Apple 'education' announcement: GarageBand for textbooks?

      @rogersma@... Yeah, and some classes made you buy 4 books for just one class. People who haven't been to college any time recently (or ever) just can't grasp how expensive textbooks really are these days. The cost of an iPad is a relatively trivial one-time expense. The textbook industry has been bending us over for so long that I'm hoping Apple takes them down with the self-publishing aspect.
  • behold (har har har)

    the carbon iPad! Carbon fiber/plastic for a warmer fuzzier feel. And cheaper too. A bit. And able to be beavered together by robots so no more contraprofit suicides. Prima facie it looks great - a way of smashing the evil textbook cartels - the price of which and the restricted provenance of is a racket worthy of FBI investigation. But they won't since they and other TLA's will do anything to furriners to further American business. If you think about it there is no reason why texts should not be free (or very cheap) All the knowledge is freely available. The 'pedagogy' is universally 'suss and so it is too. There is nothing stopping the establishment of rigorously standardised texts to any level in wikis for example. There is nothing stopping the establishment of rigorously standardised courses based on those texts. Except greed. The big publishing houses will do anything to preserve their rackets, and sadly I think that if Apple pushes into this arena it will only be done to preserve the monopoly (but *nicely*) and the profits, and to further enhance American interests to the detriment of everyone else. And it raises the spectre of specially tailored streams to those deemed not worthy, aka, not American, and even not the right kind of American... The right knowledge only goes to the right people kind of thing... And don't tell me this doesn't already happen. Welcome to the new dark ages boys and girls, welcome...
  • RE: Apple 'education' announcement: GarageBand for textbooks?

    Creating eBooks (that includes textbooks) has never been costly or difficult. The problem so far has been the lack of standardization on the presentation device. With the iPad so popular, and the universal iOS experience I can see why Apple is pushing this.

    They may even create special version of the iPad, with color electronic ink screen and call it iBook (or just use electronic paper for next iDevices). The books might be free, Apple can support that -- it is hardware what they sell, after all.

    An competitor in that area might be the Amazon Kindle, but with the iPad the benefit will be that you can do a lot more with the same device.
    • Computers ARE universal, iPads are just a small part of that

      I know that the pseudo-technical press like ZD-Net are still swooning over the iPad and so might give the impression that computing is only had by something 'magical', but it is only a small part of the computing numbers.

      Apple is really trying to get into the hearts and minds of the maleable student population here. Hook them while they are young!

      Let's face it, eBooks have dropped the item price of books. I used to buy books for AU$5 from the cheap bins at local bookshops. Now they are AU$1 from Amazon for the Kindle.

      I would expect textbooks to go the same radical price overhaul. At least we won't have to trip over students' overloaded bags on public transport any more. Though, come to think of it, since the NSW education department handed out laptops to all schoolkids, I haven't noticed the bulky bags as much. Now that is a silent revolution!