Apple’s January event to include major iBooks and digital textbook announcements

Tue, Jan 3, 2012

News, Rumors

New details about Apple’s rumored media event are emerging and it looks like Cupertino is about to make some huge announcements regarding digital textbooks.

Clayton Morris of Fox News writes that the event will have two main topics of conversation – iTunes University and Apple in education.

  • I learned of the event back in September when it was originally scheduled for late Fall in New York but it was eventually postponed.
  • The event will be in New York rather than in the Silicon Valley because New York is more centrally located for textbook and publishing.
  • This initiative has been in the making for years.
  • The announcement will be small in size but large in scope: a big announcement in a demure space.
  • I expect at least two large project announcements as they relate to Apple in education.
  • Steve Jobs was intinimately involved with this project before his passing. He gave a hat tip to the textbook side of this project in the Isaacson biography.
  • This will not be a hardware-related announcement.

Building on Morris’ report, 9to5Mac was able to independently confirm with one of their own sources that Apple’s iTunes team is in “lockdown mode” ahead of the planned announcements. What’s more, MacRumors has heard that Apple has already filmed promotional interviews with top executives from various textbook publishing companies, lending even more credence to speculation that this will be an education-dense event.

Remember that Steve Jobs in his biography explicitly told Walter Isaacson that he wanted Apple to one day help revolutionize the textbook industry by having top authors pen digital and interactive versions of classroom textbooks. This of course would also help to differentiate the iPad from the rest of the pack.

And rounding out the ever increasing number of rumors on the matter, Ars Technica writes:

And based on information from our own sources, we believe the announcement could likely involve support for the EPUB 3 standard, which enables a wider variety of multimedia and interaction features. Amazon recently announced its own similarly improved eBook standard using HTML5 and CSS3.

Several authors have also told Ars that they long for tools to help transform book text into standards-compliant eBooks. The opportunity certainly seems ripe for Apple to offer such a tool. If Apple created software that could generate standards-compliant EPUB files, it could be a boon to both the publishing industry and independent authors alike.

Incidentally, one source who has worked with Apple to integrate technology in education recently suggested that Apple may have important changes coming to its iBooks platform directed specifically toward the academic set. Digital textbooks represent another nascent market that Apple could potentially upend as it did with music and mobile apps.



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