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Apple claims to 'reinvent textbooks' with move into education market

Apple unveils a new textbook section of its iBookstore, which it says will eliminate the need for heavy and expensive books.

Apple's Philip Schiller displays some of the books available on the iBookstore at an event in New York today.
Apple's Philip Schiller displays some of the books available on the iBookstore at an event in New York today.
Image: Mark Lennihan/AP

APPLE CLAIMS IT has ‘reinvented textbooks’ by unveiling a collection of new tools which aim to have students replace traditional schoolbooks with cheaper iPad editions.

The technology giant has launched an updated version of its iPad reading application and bookstore, iBooks, in parallel with a new textbook section of its companion iBookstore.

The product is initially aimed at second-level students – and Apple has struck deals with major textbook publishers like McGraw Hill and Pearson – but could also be used at other levels of education, most probably college level.

Textbooks sold through the iBookstore will be sold at a discount – with a price ceiling of $14.99 (€11.60) per book – to try and encourage takeup. An experimental selection of seven books have been released to the store, which is only available in the US at present.

The lower price of books is a commercial necessity for Apple, whose iPad costs around $499 for US users – meaning that although a student could pay less for their books, they may also have to make a major investment for the tablet machine in the first place.

Apple has encouraged publishers to build interactive features into the textbooks – allowing readers to view 3D models of an animal skeleton, for example, or maps which show the change in climate over a given period of time – similar to those already built into magazines.

To try and encourage other textbook publishers to make the transition to electronic equivalents, Apple has also released an ‘iBooks Author’ app – available for free through the App Store on newer Macs.

Walter Isaacson, the biographer of Apple’s former chief executive Steve Jobs, said Jobs had spent his last years working on ways for Apple to enter the textbook market.

Separately, Apple also unveiled an ‘iTunes U’ app for the iPad, allowing students to enrol and complete tasks from college courses through the iPad.

Shares in Apple were largely unchanged despite the new product announcement, after earlier hitting their highest price of all time at over $431 a share.

(YouTube video via ndeviltv)

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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