Apple Goes Back to School With Rumored Textbook Initiative

Everyone was wondering what Apple planned on revealing during its January event in New York, and as it turns out, it’s an educational announcement.

Invitations were sent out on Wednesday for the event at The Guggenheim Museum in New York on January 19th, with a background image of a chalkboard with a city skyline and an Apple logo. The invitation reads, “Join us for an education announcement in the Big Apple.” So what will Apple Announce?

This is not the first time that Apple has been linked with educational efforts, such as providing textbooks on the iPad, which is the most likely announcement for next Thursday’s event.

Apple’s interest in textbooks was first discovered after the release of the Steve Jobs biography in October. In the book, Jobs told Walter Isaacson that he wanted to transform the textbook market and hire prominent textbook writers to create electronic versions of them for the iPad. He expected to get around state certification processes by offering the textbooks for free.

Is that what Apple is preparing to announce? Free academic textbooks for students? That would, of course, be amazing, given the insane cost of some textbooks – often over $150 per book. Of course, in such a situation, we could expect ad supplementation, but that’s not such a big deal for savings of that magnitude.

Even if Apple isn’t announcing free textbooks, any foray into the market is bound to improve the status quo. There are some digital textbooks available, which relieve students of heavy carry loads, but a dedicated Apple textbook store that works in conjunction with textbook publishers could mean even more textbooks will be converted to a digital form. A student section of the iBookstore would be a most welcome addition.

It could also indicate that Apple is preparing to launch its own self-publishing platform for its iBooks application, similar to Barnes & Noble’s PubIt and Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, which both allow writers to self publish their work.

We won’t know what’s really going on until next week, and even though this isn’t a major product announcement (we’ll have to wait a few more months for that iPad 3 event), it’s still worth following. Check out PadGadget next Thursday for all the details.

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