Apple set to upend textbook distribution?

Apple set to upend textbook distribution?

Summary: The textbook industry is begging to be disrupted more, but the Apple game plan is going to sound familiar. Blow up a market and sell more hardware.


Apple has set an "educational announcement" at the Guggenheim Museum on Jan. 19. The details are sparse, but there has been incessant chatter about Apple entering the textbook distribution game.

Such a move---highlighted by the Loop and a bunch of others---seems like a no-brainer in many respects. In fact, Apple would cement an already strong edu position with the iPad, iPhone and Mac. Many university campuses are already Apple heavy shops.

Also see: Apple announces special event, speculation begins

In a nutshell, it's likely that Apple would take iBooks twist it into iTextbooks with a text meets app approach. In fact, you can already find a ton of educational apps available.

The textbook industry is begging to be disrupted more, but the Apple game plan is going to sound familiar. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs had pegged the textbook market as one poised to be disrupted. The ecosystem is key, but in the end Apple wants to move the hardware. And that means more iPhones, iPads and Macs in an educational setting.

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Laptops, Mobility

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  • Naah.

    Real textooks are easier to read through, and I'd rather get a Sony eReader or Kindle or anything that isn't so harsh on the eyes. I even looked at a bunch of tablets yesterday and there are many brands that use screens far more conducive to reading, without getting eyestrain.
    • RE: Apple set to upend textbook distribution?

      @HypnoToad72 You mean like those darn computer screens people look at 8 hours a day - I'm telling you, how come there aren't any e-ink monitors??!!
      • RE: Apple set to upend textbook distribution?


        And that explains my dry eyes at the end of the day.
      • No e-ink monitors ....

        @Zfamily .... because e-ink is only good for STATIC displays. e-ink can't handle even handle updates at 2 Hz, much less at 60Hz as required by actual displays.
      • Uh.....


        Kind of similar to those "static" textbooks?
      • RE: Apple set to upend textbook distribution?


        There is already color high-speed "e-ink" technology available with few devices already in the market.

        One possible direction would be if Apple equips the next iPad with such display -- it will solve many problems, including power consumption etc.
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    • Depends... Now I don't own an iPad but I do an iPhone

      @HypnoToad72... When i read say a Zdnet article on my phone at Dunkin Donuts I often find myself expanding the text size so I can read it being I am old, diabetic and such. I would think with a larger screen doing so on an iPad would be SWEET. So I say an iPad and or other tablet has it's advantages over an actual book. Bulk, weight, flexibility, Adjustable text... etc. It's a personal opinion mind you but you shared yours so heres mine.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
    • Plus, how hard is it to repair a textbook

      @HypnoToad72 <br><br>vs an iPad?
      Kids are tough on things, just the way apple would like it.

      Imagine having to buy new iPads every year or two.
      John Zern
      • Go ahead try and find a book rebounder these days:)

        @John Zern ... As for iPads not known at least yet for repair problems, but carrying a backpack full of books has been known to do back damage even on the very young now that's not always easy to fix!

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • RE: Apple set to upend textbook distribution?

        @John Zern

        Probably a lot cheaper than the current cost of textbooks!
      • "Imagine having to buy new iPads every year or two."

        @John Zern Well...Apple really wants you to buy a new iPud EVERY year. What's the problem?

        However...I completely agree that kids are tough on things.

        Seems that if a kid drops an iPud on a concrete's probably toast. Drop a textbook on the floor...and the little urchin gets much needed exercise in having to bend over and pick it up...with no damage to the book.
      • In what arena?

        @John Zern
        College .... maybe
        High school or Middle school ..... no way.
        We had one High school try using an iPad and found the breakage rate was in excess if 20%. The cost far exceeded the cost of textbooks. It has not been expanded.
    • Yeah

      Although I agree with you in general about e-ink being easier to read, pictures are often <i>atrocious</i> in grayscale e-ink. I listened to the audio version of Steve Jobs' biography and it's pretty clear from that work that what he wanted to do for texts was to leverage multi-media in a way that isn't possible with paper, or for that matter e-ink. My ex-wife is a physical Therapist and part of her online coursework involved watching a full motion rendering of the human body being deconstructed in 'slices' via a CT scan. Just 3 years prior I had to sit in a lab to watch the same, very instructive, video because in 'my time' you couldn't do that on the web. Now you can do that <i>inside a textbook</i>. Not to mention footnotes that are actually hyper links to the author's resource material, interactive presentations and exercises, etc...

      Given the vast amount of my life that is spent in front of a backlit LCD (actually 2 of them) I have little doubt that an LCD textbook would be tolerable and for many who are used to it it's a non-issue. E-ink is great, but it is very limited in the functionality it can present once you move past QWERTY into the realms of advanced multimedia teaching aids.
    • Look! It moves!

      @HypnoToad72 You ought to get some kind of award for thinking inside the box. If you had an iPad to put instructional material on, would you really limit yourself to text and static graphics? Let's have a little imagination there, shall we?
      Robert Hahn
      • Exactly .....

        @Robert Hahn ... and example, how the iPad has revived the comic book industry (beyond the fanboys and collectors).

        iPad comics have a little of animation and sound. The addition was nothing fancy, but it was different enough that it attracted a lot of new customers that would never pickup a "paper" version to read.
    • RE: Apple set to upend textbook distribution?


      Agreed. I fully expect the iPad 3 to correct this issue with a higher resolution screen, but for now, the iPad isn't as easy to read on as even Samsung's Android tabs.
  • RE: Apple set to upend textbook distribution?

    Those darn Kindles are hard to read in bed when your wife is asleep and the lights are out.
    Prime Detailer
    • And?

      @Prime Detailer
      So is a textbook.......
  • RE: Apple set to upend textbook distribution?

    +1 Go, Apple. A 10-inch form factor tablet, like the iPad, would be ideal for most textbooks. Ditto for eReaders, especially 10-inch models with full color support (are there any yet?).
    Rabid Howler Monkey