Apple getting into textbook publishing

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One of the thing that Steve Jobs mentioned in his biography was his vision to revolutionise textbooks. The latest rumours suggest Apple is going to make that dream come true and with a big announcement next week.

Apple’s invitation read: Join us for an education announcement in the Big Apple. The event will be held on 19 January in New York City at the Guggenheim Museum.

Experts are predicting that if Apple gets into digital textbooks, things in education are bound to have a massive shake up. Textbook publishing giants like McGraw-Hill and Pearson would tremendously benefit if they partner with Apple, as they have got a massive market presence in the digital world.

Newsstand is the application that lets you subscribe to and download digitised publications. Both Apple and Amazon offers applications which lets users shop and subscribe to their favourite magazines and newspapers. New editions are auto-delivered wirelessly direct to the device the moment they go on sale.

Digitised textbooks are expected to become more cheaper than their print counterparts. Despite vendors reportedly taking a cut of over 30%, it still makes sense for the publishers to join hands with the likes of Apple and Amazon to reach a wider audience.

Magazine publishers like Hearst and Cond Nast have few other options if they wish to reach tablet users. Cond Nast has increased its revenues by more than 200% since publishing it on Newsstand. Hearst, publisher of Cosmopolitan, Popular Mechanics and Esquire, is selling more than 300,000 digital issues a month while Cond Nast titles had a combined monthly digital circulation of more than 500,000 as of 29 September last year.

Monica Ray, executive vice-president of consumer marketing at Cond Nast, publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair and the New Yorker said: We are at a new juncture. When we started 18 months ago we could only sell single issues, we couldnt sell subscriptions.

WHAT PEOPLE SAY

Newsstand offers convenience, comfort and a cheaper way of getting new publications faster. Despite all its advantages there are a lot of people who just don’t want to give up the feel of reading from a physical book.

“The experience that one gets by having the book in hand is not the same as reading from an e-reader. Although latest devices have drastically improved readability over the years, still I find comfort to read from a book compared to an e-reader,”Arun Dev, an engineer working in New Delhi, said.

A couple of college students told Arabian Gazette they loved the concept. Mishal Mohammed, a student from Malaysia said the thought of not having to carry heavy books daily to school itself is a soothing news.

Parents also supported the idea but also expressed concerns on a host of issues that could potentially crop up. One is the price of the books and hoped it will come down. Karen Williams, mother of 7-year old says that if an App on the device can sync with what a teacher covers in the class and is able to adjust the lessons to focus on a child’s needs, that would be great.

Shaju Illyas, a Saudi based finance and IT manager said: “Tackling piracy will be a problem as Internet will be flooded with e-books, especially on Torrent networks”.

Sources: Mashable, Financial Times, AppStorm

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