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Textbook publishers reformatting school books for iPad

updated 11:30 pm EST, Tue February 2, 2010

Study guides and test-prep content also considered

Several major textbook publishers have begun collaborating with software companies to bring educational content onto the iPad, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Companies working on schoolroom-focused projects include McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt K-12, Pearson Education, and Kaplan, among others.

Although educational textbooks have seen limited adoption on notebook computers, the companies are reportedly expecting students to find the content more attractive on devices that provide a higher level of portability.

Apple's initial marketing has focused on highlighting the iPad as a competitive alternative to current e-book readers such as Amazon's Kindle. People familiar with the the Apple's thinking, however, claim the iPad design team held extensive talks regarding how the device could be used in the classroom, particularly as a new way to utilize textbooks.

Aside from the iPad's potential as an e-book reader, the device could also be used for interactive content such as study guides and test-prep material. Several of the publishers have been working with ScrollMotion, a software developer that has previously created apps for the iPhone and iPod touch. Many of the iPad-optimized textbooks include additional features such as search functions, dictionaries, and interactive quizzes.

"People have been talking about the impact of technology on education for 25 years. It feels like it is really going to happen in 2010," said Rik Kranenburg, president of McGraw-Hill's higher education unit. "Nobody knows what device will take off, or which 'killer app' will drive student adaptations. Today they aren't reading e-textbooks on their laptops. But ahead we see all kinds of new instruction materials."

by MacNN Staff



  1. nowwhatareyoulookingat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Look for huge savings on e-books!

    You can count on these publishers giving you a discount...of say 5% off the cost of the hardcover book, to reflect the lower cost of publishing e-books, and to take into account the lower value of the product you are licensing [so no reselling] instead of purchasing.

  1. starwarrior

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Students are Already There.

    They just are not telling anyone.
    An example: The teacher asks a homework question about an obscure subject expecting the student to absorb more as they search through a three inch text book for the information. My students come home and turn to Wikipedia or some other online source for the information. They go to the answer and do not wade thought volumes of superfluous c***. Lesson is done in three minutes and not three hours. It is a lesson in how things will be done the rest of their lives. They have plenty of time left over for movies, texting and games. All digital of course, except for soccer, baseball, football and all the outside traditional games. They have a good life as they work around and past the man who is the archaic leader of the present day high school system.

  1. rudedog

    Joined: Dec 1969


    There's an app for that

    I can't wait for the app that compares editions of the same text book to see how your much they are ripping you off.

    Granted that is if you could sell your old ebook to someone else (yeah like that's going to happen)

    At least my kids won't have to lug around 7-9 lb books when their in collage.

  1. coffeetime

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Sounds like Apple is about to hit a jackpot on their iPad.
    Microsoft's response: zunePad is next.
    Kindle's response: buy one Kindle get one free plus 10 free ebooks.
    Sony: what iPad? we already have our own eBook reader long, long ago. We're the first and #1.
    Nook: Pre-order cancellation on the rise.

  1. jnicholas

    Joined: Dec 1969


    iBook vs custom apps

    The lead up to the iPad had a lot of rumors around publishers being on board but it seems like something is still missing.

    If the iBook app is simply an epub reader then that doesn't support the idea of richer media apps. Custom apps like New York Times one are cool but i didn't think that publishers wanted to turn into software developers and that would lead to all the magazines and books being standalone apps which seems weird with a bookshelf on the iPad already.

    I was expecting something in-between where there was a new app that had a simplified way to deliver rich content to. Maybe something more like the ITunes Extras format that uses web technologies.

  1. kstaple

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Tagging and highlighting

    My daughter is just finishing up her Masters and had to get several books as 'ebooks'. They were just PDF's and she hated them. She didn't want to be tied to her computer to read them but what she really missed was the ability to mark pages for review and the ability to highlight portions of the text. While the iPad is coming too late for her, she feels that those capabilities would make for the 'Killer' app for students.

  1. xenith1

    Joined: Dec 1969


    iPad == wishful thinking

    I think it is wishful thinking that the iPad will replace textbooks any time soon. I buy a lot of technical books every year. I don't like reading textbooks on a computer screen. Accept it, those of you in the apple reality distortion field, I like the feel of a real book. I don't care what animation page flipping effects they come up with. I like and want a real book. And I do read PDF's but they are mainly manuals and I do wish they were printed instead.

    Also, what is this obsession with highlighting in textbooks?? I've almost never done that. I find it irritating to read someone's book with stupid yellow markers everywhere. That's why you are supposed to take notes.

    From what I've read of this glorified remote control called the iPad, no way will I be buying one or writing software for one. I can see the publishing industry salivating. They think they've gotten the money genie back in the bottle. Yet, they still don't feel quiet alright like they are still missing something. Yeah, the part they are missing is that people are fed up with their greed and control and they are not going to give up more control and accept more restrictive media with this latest trinket.

    Publishing Industry is another century old scam that's almost popped.

    Now, if you come up with flexible foldable screens you can roll up, fold-up, etc, you might have a point. Until then, leave me alone with my real books and leave the iPad next to the Douche in store.

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