Ars Technica: Apple to Announce Authoring Tools for Textbook/E-Book Publishing

Very interesting speculation in Ars Technical. Tomorrow (19th in California) we should find out what is true. Even if this turns out not to be exactly correct, there is useful perspective. Here’s a small excerpt:


Technology-in-education expert Dr. William Rankin also believes digital books will expand with tools that will enable social interactions among textbook users. Rankin, who serves as Director of Educational Innovation of Abilene Christian University and has extensively researched the use of mobile devices in the classroom, was one of three authors of a white paper on the effects of digital convergence on learning titled “Code/X,” published in 2009.

In that document, Rankin and his colleagues laid out their vision for the future of learning, which included an always-on, always-networked digital device called a “Talos.” That device turned out to be very similar to the iPad that Apple announced just six months later.

“What we saw coming was a change in the kinds of places that learning would happen,” Rankin told Ars. Since the device would always be with the student, it would give her access to information anytime and anywhere. “For that, you need a different kind of book.”

Such digital texts would let students interact with information in visual ways, such as 3D models, graphs, and videos. They would also allow students to create links to additional texts, audio, and other supporting materials. Furthermore, students could share those connections with classmates and colleagues.

(…) Steve Jobs’ pet project

We know that former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was working on addressing learning and digital textbooks for some time, according to Walter Issacson’s biography. Jobs believed that textbook publishing was an “$8 billion a year industry ripe for digital destruction.”

UPDATE: The speculation was correct. See iBooks textbooks for iPad . There is an Apple Keynote podcast of the NYC special event. The free iBooks Author app (Mac only) is described here. iBooks Author generates the HTML5 so you can yourself publish directly to the iBookstore – or anywhere so long as you don’t profit from the sale of content produced by the app.