Report: Apple reaching out to publishers in anticipation of tablet release

Wed, Sep 30, 2009

News, Rumors

Well Gizmodo sure does seem to be getting all of the tablet related scoops these days.  Earlier today, they published a report noting that “Appls is in talks with several media companies rooted in print, negotiating for a ‘new device’.  And they’re not just going for e-books and mags.  They’re aiming to redefine print.”

Two people related to the NYTimes have separately told me that in June, paper was approached by Apple to talk about putting the paper on a “new device.” The R&D labs have long worked on versions of the paper meant to be navigated without a keyboard or mouse, showing up on Windows tablets and on multiple formats using Adobe Air. The NYTimes, of course, also publishes via their iPhone application. Jobs has, during past keynotes, called the NYTimes the “best newspaper in the world.”

Also reportedly contacted by Apple were publishing powerhouses McGraw Hill and Oberlin Press, who might be working together with Apple to make textbooks available on iTunes.

There was no mention of any more detail than that, but it does link back to a private Apple intern idea competition held on campus, in their Town Hall meeting area in 2008, where the winning presentation selected by executives was one focused on textbook distribution through iTunes. The logic here is that textbooks are sold new at a few hundred dollars, and resold by local stores without any kickbacks to publishers. A DRM’d one-time-use book would not only be attractive because publishers would earn more money, but electronic text books would be able to be sold for a fraction of the cost, cutting out book stores and creating a landslide marketshare shift by means of that huge price differential.

This, of course, assumes that a textbook is completely replaceable and just as useful in digital form, an assumption we’re pretty skeptical about, despite the welcome cost savings that would ensue.  Textbooks are often mammoth productions, and typically take up 3-500 pages worth of info.  Students need to be able to flip around and peruse the textbook as quickly as possible, and doing so with electronic text isn’t nearly as efficient.

Lastly, Gizmodos report corroborates yesterday’s insider scoop from iLounge which pegs a tablet announcement to take place sometime in January 2010.



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