Apple aims to update, not upend, the textbook industry

Apple aims to update, not upend, the textbook industry

Summary: Beleaguered college students may be vying for the reshaping of the textbook industry, but it won't happen during Apple's announcement tomorrow.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Apple, CXO, Mobility
26

With Apple's Thursday announcement drawing near, two different takes have emerged on what the company has planned.

On one hand you have reports that Apple's announcement will mark a sea change for the textbook industry that the textbook themselves won't been too happy with.

That's the interpretation of, for example, TechCrunch's John Biggs, who sees Apple's announcement as something that will shut down the textbook sales market. Biggs writes:

The biggest racket in publishing – textbook sales – is apparently going to be shut down by Apple this Thursday as they announce what many are calling “GarageBand for books:” a system for authoring and selling ebooks that is so simple that even the benighted publishing industry will shift their brandy in their large crystal glasses and admit, between toots of Adderall, that these Apple fellows are onto something with this whole ebook business. And, just like that, their industry will change overnight.

It's fair to say that that end isn't entirely likely.

In fact, the situation will probably swing in the opposite direction: Rather than actively work against publishers, Apple's Thursday announcement bring the two entities closer together.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that McGraw-Hill has been working with Apple on the upcoming announcement since June of last year. Textbook publisher Cengage Learning is also expected to be at the event, the Journal reports.

So, no, the textbook industry isn't set to be upended. In fact, working with Apple is one of the best things that could happen to it.

As ZDNet's Jason D. O'Grady noted in a post on Tuesday, working with Apple will give publishing companies the chance to end one of its most significant troubles: the resale market. Seeing as how publishers are completely cut out of second hand sales, a move to digital would change that half of the equation. It's a win-win for them.

And it's a win, too, for Apple, which will almost certainly take the same 30% cut out of textbook sales as it does with other partners.

Apple's textbook ambitions will certainly make life a bit easier for students. Backpacks will get lighter, the learning experience better, and, hopefully, the prices significantly cheaper.

Unfortuatnely, that last one is a bit up in the air. While digital textbooks remove the need for printing, binding, and distribution, chances are that textbook publishers aren't going to let prices drop too much.

Topics: Apple, CXO, Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

26 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Apple aims to update, not upend, the textbook industry

    Being forced to use an Apple product will keep me away from any campus. I work at a University and I am in the process of working towards an advanced degree now. I would most certainly choose another school where I would be forced to use their products.
    heathman
    • Baby....bath water......etc.

      @heathman
      Choosing a school based on your bias of computer brands is kind of short-sighted, isn't it?
      Userama
      • RE: Apple aims to update, not upend, the textbook industry

        @Userama "biased"? Maybe he simply doesn't like being told he'll have to buy his "books" from Apple.

        Believe it or not...there actuually are people who DO NOT care for the way Apple does business. Not everyone on this planet is an Apple Lemming.

        And since when does Apple get to dictate the format of books to a University or College? Where does CHOICE come in here also? If Apple is one choice that's fine, but to have no choice but to use a digital textbook sold by Apple...well that's NOT fine.

        And just how do you write notes in the margins of a digital textbook anyway? Hmmm?
        IT_Fella
      • RE: Apple aims to update, not upend, the textbook industry

        @IT_Fella
        ""biased"? Maybe he simply doesn't like being told he'll have to buy his "books" from Apple."

        Maybe college students don't like being told they have to buy their books from the campus bookstore... Maybe the campus book store is bending them over, semester after semester. Maybe Apple's competition will put an end to that. And that dictation has far more to do with the instructor/teacher/professor than anything else... Some are forced to use certain books, some choose the books they will use in class.

        Believe it or not there are people who buy Apple products who are not lemmings. They just want the best bang for their buck. Believe it or not there are people who don't spend their money wisely based on stupid prejudices.

        Apple isn't dictating anything troll boy.... They are simply bringing some competition to a place where everything is currently dictated to the students, thereby offing choice where there wasn't one...

        You trolls are so narrow minded it's a wonder you can remember to breathe. You actually assume that Apple has a textbook monopoly just based on an announcement that they are working to improve ebooks in education... Paranoid much???
        i8thecat4
      • RE: Apple aims to update, not upend, the textbook industry

        @IT_Fella "And just how do you write notes in the margins of a digital textbook anyway? Hmmm?"

        I write notes on PDFs on my PowerBook (Acrobat) and my iPad (Goodreader) and I hope the next Apple thing brings notes to other formats (epub). I work on the educational bussiness and I'm very happy thinking that my learning and teaching tools (books are my tools) are going to be available in better formats for many gadgets. I hope other companies do the same on other platforms and that competition brings down prices and improves products. You should be happy that Apple makes the first step (as almost always): imitators will join soon, don't worry. Your life will improve. Do thank Apple for changing the status quo and stop criticizing innovation just because it comes from Apple.
        pajaro1966
    • RE: Apple aims to update, not upend, the textbook industry

      @heathman

      And if that same University forced you to run Windows or another piece of proprietary software or hardware, say a Kindle reader and download texts from Amazon, would you also keep away from that. Or does that only apply when its Apple?
      yoshipod
      • RE: Apple aims to update, not upend, the textbook industry

        @yoshipod Sounds like he'd be on it like a bee to honey. most of the time when someone makes a post like that they are a die hard member of the Apple Hater religion and don't realize that tech is a tool not an object of worship.
        athynz
    • RE: Apple aims to update, not upend, the textbook industry

      @heathman some people feel so strongly that it s a belief, a religion. I would say being forced to use x product when one considers it intrinsically evil is akin to being forced have truck with the devil against one's wishes! let the lawsuits come.
      opcom
    • Why did they let you into University is the obvious question

      Either that, you're a teeny bit neanderthal and don't know what an eBook actually is.

      I'll choose the first, you're not university material and should give it up and go clean at McDonalds.
      ego.sum.stig
  • RE: Apple aims to update, not upend, the textbook industry

    As it did with the music industry, Apple will "disrupt" the textbook publishing industry. When the dust settles, as with the music industry, textbook publishing will be very, very different.
    thorntondw
  • RE: Apple aims to update, not upend, the textbook industry

    my friend's ex-wife makes $85/hr on the computer. She has been laid off for 6 months but last month her check was $8990 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this web site... makecash16.com
    DaltonDee
  • RE: Apple aims to update, not upend, the textbook industry

    Don't see that as being beneficial to me.
    The collaboration between Apple and publishing for current books has cost me and significantly decreased my purchasing of ebooks.
    What prevents or helps me when it comes to text books?

    Add to that, I like the ability to write in, hi lite, mark up my books.
    rhonin
    • btw....

      @rhonin <br>After adopting Apple, I have become very disillusioned with them during the 2011 year. Somehow I don't get a warm fuzzy feeling from this upcoming event.
      rhonin
    • RE: Apple aims to update, not upend, the textbook industry

      @rhonin
      That's the "magic sauce" as they say. If Apple has come up with an elegant and simple way to do these types of annotations, it's going to have a big impact. I use Microsoft OneNote a lot for just this type of annotation. I "print" any thing I want into OneNote and then I can manipulate, highlight, annotate and even record audio to coordinate with my use of the material. Then I can come back at anytime and anywhere with a net connection to search and review the material.
      PrimeRisk
      • And therein lies the problem with digital textbooks...

        @PrimeRisk

        ..."Then I can come back at anytime and anywhere with a net connection to search and review the material."

        With a real paper textbook...one DOES NOT NEED a "net connection" to read it, OR any annotations written in it.
        IT_Fella
      • RE: Apple aims to update, not upend, the textbook industry

        @IT_Fella [b]

        With a real paper textbook...one DOES NOT NEED a "net connection" to read it, OR any annotations written in it.[/b]

        With an ebook that resides on the hard drive... one DOES NOT NEED a "net connection" to read it, OR any annotations written in it. There I fixed it for you.
        athynz
  • RE: Apple aims to update, not upend, the textbook industry

    I believe if the speculation about what Apple is going to announce is correct, it will really change things with textbooks. The financial losers are the print manufacturers of the books, bookstores, and the consumer. You won't be sharing your textbook with a roommate, giving it to an underclassman in your fraternity, or selling it after the end of the semester anymore. Anyone who wants a copy on their device will pony up the cash directly to the publisher.
    PrimeRisk
    • No secondhand books anymore?

      @PrimeRisk "You won't be sharing your textbook with a roommate, giving it to an underclassman in your fraternity, or selling it after the end of the semester anymore. Anyone who wants a copy on their device will pony up the cash directly to the publisher."

      That is a publisher's wet dream. Everyone pays and pays and pays and pays.
      sismoc
      • RE: Apple aims to update, not upend, the textbook industry

        @sismoc JUST like when a university department decides to change the textbook for the upcoming semester and the book store refuses to buy back the book based on that. Yup a publisher's wet dream.
        athynz
    • RE: Apple aims to update, not upend, the textbook industry

      @PrimeRisk,

      Suppose the average life of a university text book is 5 students. Someone has to pay the full price of the text book, when that happens the publisher, printer, and author get their cut. From that point forward the publisher, printer and author receive no more revenue. The student that bought the new text book is going to bear the brunt of this expense, especially if he gives it away. If he resells the book he will receive less than half of what he paid for the new book. If we use a $200 text book as an example then the cost to the first student is somewhere between $80 (if he resells) and $200 (if he gives it away). Therefore as a consumer / student I win if I get the same textbook in electronic form for less than $80.

      Now lets say the electronic version only costs $50, but as the publisher and author I can now expect the downstream revenue that in the past I did not have access to (i.e. the resale market). I can now expect to see $250 revenue for the textbook because I assumed the text book had a life span of 5 students. Who is not happy with this scenario, well the kid that use to get something for nothing, the resellers, and the printers. Who benefits the most, the guy that wrote the book, the guy that brought the book to the market, and student who in the past was stuck purchasing a new text book or the one who bought a used copy at some savings but is left holding the bag because he can't sell the text book back (happens when the instructor decides to use a new text).
      YaBaby