Updated (11:30 a.m.) Teachers and fanboys alike gasped, when Apple announced its latest disruptive foray into a new media space revealed at Manhattan's Guggenheim Museumon Thursday morning: a textbook business and self-publishing platform. iBooks Textbooks not only makes textbooks a truly interactive experience on the iPad. Apple is also getting into the publishing business by providing Mac users with a GarageBand-like do-it-yourself app called iBooks Author. The best part about the app? It's free and looks very easy-to-use.
Much as the late Steve Jobs's philosophy on education would suggest, Apple (the world's richest tech and media company) wants to reinvent textbooks. In typically un-Apple fashion, however, there's not been a lot of mystery surrounding exactly how they're going to tackle this education-related initiative, as many of the details have already leaked online. Jobs might've been upset about so much information being so well-sourced, but then again, he maintained a tremendous passion for education. Since setting up programs to put more iPads in schools and speaking out about the liberal arts in his last years, it's clear that this first big reveal since the co-founder's death will, in many ways, kick off his legacy. We've put together a guide to what we know so far and will update as Apple makes the official announcement at 10 a.m. in New York.
will be is the publishing partner. Apple revealed a number of publishing partners for the new iBooks, including McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. On Tuesday, news emerged that McGraw-Hill is expected to be the launch partner present at this year's winter media event. (Last year, it was Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. who announced The Daily, an iPad-only newspaper.) After The Wall Street Journal broke news of McGraw-Hill's involvement, we've not read many more confirmable details about the relationship, but we could imagine how McGraw-Hill, a global publishing company, could be one of many potential partners down the line. Just as Apple teamed up with AT&T to get into the phone business and News Corp. to launch a platform for newspapers and magazines, the company's history of disruption indicates that they're going to go big. Apple's website explains the relationship with publishers briefly:
will did announce a "GarageBand for textbooks." It's called iBooks 2. "education is deep in our DNA, and it has been since the very beginning," Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller said at the announcement event.
The new iBooks goes well beyond just textbooks, though. With a new (free) self-publishing app called iBooks Author, Apple will make it easier for anybody to publish a book. The app is available for download in the Mac Store, starting on Thursday. This roughly matches the ideas what Ars Technica's bloggers floated earlier this week. "A sort of GarageBand for textbooks was the term the blog's Chris Foresman used to describe what sources had told him. "That's what we believe you're about to see," one of his sources said. "Publishing something to ePub is very similar to publishing web content." An App Store for education? Well, that sort of already exists but it could be interesting to learn how Apple will vet this new content.
Textbooks and, more broadly, education will never be the same. Again, we're not sure this will be true, but Apple has a pretty strong track record of changing everything. It's that very Steve Jobsian idea of thinking different, changing the world, being one of the crazy ones. We doubt the company will want to veer away from his legacy any time soon.