Will Apple’s January event be about e-textbooks?


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Apple plans to make a big announcement Jan. 19 in New York City. It has been rumored that the event will focus on its iBookstore. And when the invitation landed Wednesday, it made clear that the event will be ‘an education announcement.’

Put that together and what do you get? Textbooks. Ebooks. E-textbooks. At least, that’s what people are guessing.


‘The event will focus on electronic textbooks,’ writes BusinessWeek. That’s exactly what the N.Y. Times asserts with its headline ‘Apple Aims to Take on the Textbook Market.’ A more hesitant source told Wired, ‘Apple may make some changes to iBooks that are directed specifically toward the academic set.’ Apple had long been a friend to educators, offering discounts to students and teachers and finding ways to get Apple computers -- and iPads -- into classrooms.

‘If Apple does unveil new textbook partnerships,’ CNET speculates, ‘it would be a coup for the company. Although none of the major textbook publishers currently have strong ties with Apple or its iBooks platform, they don’t have arrangements with the company’s competitors, either.’

Textbooks have been a robust, if complicated, part of the book business. In his biography ‘Steve Jobs,’ Walter Isaacson wrote that Jobs had his sights on textbooks. ‘If textbooks were given away free on iPads he thought the publishers could get around the state certification of textbooks,’ the N.Y. Times reported. ‘Isaacson said Mr. Jobs believed that states would struggle with a weak economy for at least a decade. ‘We can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money.’'

The Jan. 19 event will be held at the Guggenheim Museum.


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-- Carolyn Kellogg