History Won’t be Kind to Apple & Textbooks

| Hidden Dimensions

“A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” — Robert Frost

Apple has entered several publishing markets where the company takes its 30 percent. Textbooks are one market where, for the sake of good image and an endowment for children, the company should have backed off and made a contribution to human history for all time. But Apple is thinking small, not big.

I have been thinking about Apple’s foray into textbooks, announced last week. I note that some authors are outraged that Apple is trying to take 30 percent of textbook revenues and lock authors into their system. Others are suggesting that the market needed some leadership, and this is the price to pay for Apple bring coherence and good development tools to the education market.

When you see that kind of division, it’s a healthy sign. There are people who don’t care for the way Apple does things, and there are people who praise Apple for just about anything the company does. Meanwhile, Apple just runs its business.

I think there’s a bigger problem that isn’t being addressed, namely, Apple’s focus on the big picture, what they might have achieved this time with a different approach. But Apple seems nearsighted, bound up in the nightmares of Steve Jobs when he was alive.


Save Apple First

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, the company was bleeding money. The company was not far from not making payroll. A shrewdly managed investment from Microsoft and the development of a new money making product, the iMac put the company on the road to recovery. But along the way, everything, and I mean everything, that wasn’t generating revenue was axed. That meant both products and projects, like grants to schools and the Apple Masters. Everything.

The mantra for Apple has been, for 15 years, if it doesn’t make money, kill it. As a result, Apple has become insanely wealthy. Tim Cook and the executive team are enormously well compensated.

However, with great power and great wealth comes great responsibility, and Apple is now missing a huge opportunity to demonstrate attention to that principle.

Giving Back to Education

When Phil Schiller came on stage last Thursday, he was a serious man. He said, “Education is deep in our DNA.” His somber and thoughtful approach suggested that Apple intended to make things different and better in education. Apple is in a position to call some shots in the industry, and that kind of power should not be taken lightly. Mr. Schiller behaved, on stage, in accordance with shouldering that burden.

Only later did we find out that it was going to be the same old line; Apple gets its not inconsiderable piece of the action, 30 percent. And, as we know, the lock in with iBooks Author to the iBookstore.

The effect of the subsequent discoveries was to sully the importance of Mr. Schiller’s presentation and give us a bitter pill to swallow. No matter what Apple does for us, there are always insidious strings attached. This is what got Microsoft into trouble.

iPad textbooks

Now I can already hear you thinking. But Apple is a company that’s designed only to make money! They have an obligation to their shareholders! It takes time and resources to build these tools, and Apple isn’t a charity!

I will submit to you that that is generally the case, but with Apple the most valuable company on the planet and annual revenues of US$140 billion, it’s also time for Apple to wisely reflect on when they will, for the sake of social responsibility and their public image, judiciously decide when to relax that principle.

In other words, Apple has far more to gain as the undisputed champion of children and learning (and iPads) than they have to gain on five bucks per text book. After all, even if they sell a few million textbooks in the coming months, the revenue is peanuts compared to what they make with iPhone and iPad hardware.

And that brings up an important second point. Apple is in the business of building great hardware driven by great software. Customers not only want to buy great hardware, but they want to buy that hardware from a company they love. That’s why companies that have great power and wealth find that they must pick and chose what extra-curricular activities to focus on when it comes to creating a warm fuzzy on the part of the customer.

Children, learning and textbooks would have been a great candidate.

I Can Hear You Now

Again, I can hear you thinking. But then nasty book authors, those scoundrels, would use iBooks Author to write their books and submit them to Amazon! Yes, they probably would. But they’d be doing it on a Macintosh and OS X. Want to sell more Macs? Keep creating those great tools.

Of course, what will happen now is that a few companies and authors will estimate that they can make money with Apple’s plan. Others, Amazon included, will take another path. The industry will be just as fragmented as before. Apple, thanks to its obsession with every small piece of the action, will have missed the opportunity to truly change the industry. And because there will be those who dearly want to bypass Apple in this education endeavor, Apple won’t make the money it could have with iPads. A new cottage industry for tablets and textbooks that bypass Apple will surely emerge and be championed.

That Sour Feeling

Apple doesn’t have an absolutely flawless reputation. Many, many Chinese workers slave away to make these iPhones and iPads. Apple does its best to make sure those workers have decent conditions, but the stories we’ve seen don’t exactly make us envious of those Chinese workers. Plus, Apple has a lot of money and investments and doesn’t seem to be doing anything productive with it. It’s all part of that legacy of Steve Jobs, his paranoia about Apple failing in the 1990s: Hoard cash. Axe projects that are unproductive. Nickel and dime every project to death.

Apple wasn’t making money on personal Web sites. So the company axed iWeb and Web hosting. Apple does make money on musics, books and apps. Now textbooks. Okay, we get it. Apple is rich and getting richer.

Every once in a while, I propose, Apple should sit back and reflect on its great wealth and influence, and what it wants to do with it. Will Apple be remembered as the company that, early in the 21st century, revolutionized textbooks? The company that used its talent for the sake of all our children forever more? Or will they simply be remembered as the company that looted everything it touched?

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Good article, John. I am holding out a bit of hope that come 2012 back-to-school time we’ll see some huge incentives for school-oriented iPad purchases to support the new textbook revolution. By then we’ll see a lot more iPad textbooks available, and a new generation of iPad (which could open the doors for greatly reduced pricing on iPad 2 or even the original iPad).

If we don’t see schools (and parents of school-aged children) get some serious price reductions on the hardware side, then I’ll start to taste some of that Sour Apple. Apple sure can afford to sell school iPads at cost for years and not impact that huge pile of money they are sitting on. In fact, by doing so, they will ensure a leadership position, so it makes sense to practically give away iPads at first to get schools, universities, and parents locked into the hardware. So, as far as I’m concerned, we are in a wait-and-see state until iPad 3 is released and we approach 2012 back-to-school.

Come on, Apple. Do it for the children!! We believe the children are our future…


Thought provoking, John. Apple definitely wasn?t thinking outside the box on this one. Not known for its philanthropy, Apple could have garnered some positive attention on this one*. It?s not too late, but it takes the bigger thinker to switch gears and then choose the right action.

I hope someone at Apple reads TMO and sees this article.

* and possibly set a new way of thinking by others ( including companies) as well.

I agree, Ron. Apple could use the profits it gains from textbooks to offset the cost of iPads for schools.

Boot blyster

Perhaps if you’d a had a betta price on dem der texts books, youdaa bin a better reiter.  Some seikologee books andaa youdaa bin less irratable in yor diatribe…...eh!!

Mike Weasner

I have an even bigger concern and it is one that John has discussed in the past: the “Digital Dark Age”.  I still have textbooks from over 40 years ago.  And I can still read them for the information they contain. Yes, some of the content is out-of-date, but my math, geometry, trigonometry, and astronomy books are mostly still current.  Yes, new discoveries have been made in astronomy, but that has not made me throw out these old books.  In 40 years, will we be able to still read today’s iBooks textbooks and other electronic books made with today’s tools?  Probably not.  Something that is probably way better will have replaced today’s format, resulting in new books being published.  As in today’s (or yesterday’s) paper book world, the need to frequently update textbooks generated a constant flow of money to the publishers (and some authors).  The need to update electronic textbooks to stay current with the technology will continue to create a constant flow of money.  And consumers will bear the costs for new formats and new hardware to read them.


But then nasty book authors, those scoundrels, would use iBooks Author to write their books and submit them to Amazon!

It’s not like people don’t use Final Cut, or Pages, or QuickTime to make something and then they submit the end product to someone other than Apple…

You nailed this one. Good job.

John Martellaro

Mr. Weasner makes a great point. Librarians, those who are left, worry a lot about the migratability of documents forward in time. Those who have data on old Zip cartridges but don’t have a working drive know oh so well.

As we jump headlong into digital books, what measures are taken to ensure the long-term viability of our digital works? I remember reading about one company that is printing a copy of every eBook and storing the paper in an underground archive.  I think this is it…



Thanks for bringing up this perspective, John.

It’s not necessarily wrong on Apple’s part. Certainly they’re under no obligation to take a more pro bono approach. And these products/services do offer some valid benefits—including the fact that the apps are free.

Still, you describe a unique opportunity in which more magnanimity could have accomplished more broadly powerful good—which would also only do them immeasurable good in return with loyalty, plus, as you indicate in your closing, the intangible of being a BIG-time “education’s friend.”

I’m an AAPL stockholder, and I approve this message. wink

John Martellaro

geoduck.  Indeed. You can write a book with Apple’s Pages and export as EPUB v2.  I wonder if Apple will update Pages to export EPUB v3? Or will Apple find that not in its interest to do so?


Text book publishers are amongst the greediest entrepreneurs on the planet. Every year or two they update books just so they can charge schools more money. This is even the case for areas of study like algebra, that shouldn’t change very much. Worst, the publishers need to make the buyers think there has been real changes to the book. Often times, this means shuffling the placement of chapters, and rewriting the opening paragraphs.

I could see Apple being charitable if the publishers weren’t crooks.

The Schwartz

Remember that the textbook market, at least at the university level, is one where the publisher takes a great deal more than 30%. Additionally, unless there is a sizable market potential the publishing houses really aren’t that interested in any specific book. The publishers are a for profit business too.

The Apple model, while it might seem predatory, really allows the authors to cut out the publishing houses and deal directly with the end customer.  I suspect when it all shakes out that the authors of these textbooks might actually make more money than when they were dealing with the big publishing houses. And, the textbooks will be cheaper.

At the graduate level some text books might sell less than a thousand copies a year, more if the author is lucky and very good.

If I want to publish a textbook I don’t have to crawl on the ground and beg the big houses to publish my work. I simply have to write it. If it is good and recognized by my peers as a good textbook then I actually might make some money on the project.

When I was in graduate school (EE), I had professors who published their work at the local Kinko’s and we bought what were Xeroxed copies of the required text. One professor eventually got a publishing house interested and he got his work published. I asked him later if he made any money on the deal and he told me that he made more money per copy when the book was published at the local copying store. And the book cost half as much at Kinko’s.

To be fair, I think Apple should make a Android App so other platforms can buy books from the Apple store.  They certainly could charge for this App and they would probably make more money that way. But, I don’t think that is in Apples DNA.


Brendan Steidle

Apple’s contribution to humanity and to education is not based on the amount of money it saves individuals, but on the value made by putting powerful tools in the hands of creative people.  Your premise assumes that if a company offered profit-free publishing to the textbook industry or made a donation of 30 percent of the total revenue spent on textbooks to school systems, it would make a greater impact.  But repeated studies have shown that more money doesn’t necessarily equal greater educational outcomes.  Apple’s move into the textbook industry isn’t about saving money - if it was Apple could have invented a way to print books on thinner paper.  Its goal was to increase student engagement by using the tightly integrated hardware and software inherent in their platform.  It doesn’t work if the two aren’t integrated, which is why it is proprietary.  And it doesn’t work if it just saves money, because money isn’t the issue.  This is about learning and empowering teachers to teach in new ways.


Another idea, John. If Apple were to drop its profits completely from textbooks ($15 x 30% = $4.50) and get the textbook companies to accept $9.99 as the highest selling price, wouldn’t more books likely be sold? And wouldn’t the idea of schools purchasing new e-textbooks every year then become more acceptable? Sounds like a win-win scenario for schools and textbook companies with Apple coming out looking like the good-fellow. It would also put a strain on Amazon and others.

And couldn’t Apple continue to go this alone? I don’t quite get the point that Apple has to share its iBook authoring application with Amazon or any other book seller. I would expect that Amazon and any other textbook sellers would develop their own applications to make the same textbooks developed by the textbook companies with whom Apple is working.


John, I don’t think that Apple has not done one thing since Steve Jobs returned without squeezing every dime out of the product. Absolute statements like “Nickel and dime every project to death.” are most often not true. Can you not think of one product over the last fifteen years that Apple offered for free? Can you not think of one product that Apple charges less for than comparable products from other sources?

Let me ask one reasonable question? If Apple gave up its’ 30% share would the digital books cost 30% less? Would the books still be $15? None of us have been a party to the negotiations for that price point. It has been over 25 years since I last bought a textbook. It cost more than $15 back then. Also, there is nothing stopping an author or publishing house from charging less or giving digital books away.

While we are talking about greed in education; I believe that the small amount Apple will make after costs is a pittance compared to what is going on elsewhere in the education market.

On the subject of exporting to other formats, that is something that I wanted to see (Pie in the sky wish that publishers would set up the format standard.) Never thought of this as being Apple’s responsibility. Nor would I expect the other players to be happy if Apple did it.


i agree, it’s not about the money! sure it would be great to see apple give away the software for anyone to publish textbooks and books, and have them distributed to every platform. but would it do what they want to do for the industry targeted?... they are looking to help engage the student, make it easier to learn. i’m not just talking about kids in school, but the life long learners like myself.

it will all unfold in the best way possible, this is only version 1 of many to come. i’m excited to see how it all unfolds.

Lee Dronick

See this take on the “subject” by a book writer http://dimsumthinking.com/2012/01/21/a-writers-eula/

Ross Edwards

I couldn’t disagree more, and this is part of what I suspect Steve Jobs understood when he tried on few occasions to explain his lack of publicly known philanthropy and eventually just gave up.  We know from his wife and close friends that he still gave generously, but in private and likely often anonymously, taking the identity of the donor out of the equation.

A company can throw some money at a cause, but that company’s business is its business, not the cause.  Thus, ensuring in diligence that the money is well-allocated and then measuring results are beyond the company’s ken.  That’s setting aside the issue that the company has a duty to its shareholders to make money, not give it away.  And for what?  If the company is trumpeting its donation, it’s really just advertising/branding dressed up as charity.  And a company can hardly NOT trumpet its donation, or else it’s shedding money unaccountably.  Lose-lose.

Now when you have a charitable trust, philanthropy, church, or what have you, it’s a different story.  That organization is devoted to efficiently allocating dollars and producing measurable results.  If they don’t allocate dollars well, their non-profit filings will show it and donors will shy away.  If they don’t produce measurable results, they have nothing to pitch and donors will shy away.  If they do both, the charity works.  This is why Childhelp organizes the Barrett-Jackson car auction every year and just made some absurd number of millions of dollars from this year’s event, all in the middle of a guttered economy and sky-high unemployment.  The few charity dollars left seek a premium outlet.

For my part, I donate anonymously, except to the degree that I identify myself to comply with tax paperwork.  I don’t need the people I am helping to send me photos or put my name on their building or even thank me, though that last bit would at least not cost them anything.  All I need is for them to be helped with my money.  That’s why I gave it to them in the first place.  More specifically, that’s why I gave it to an efficient, reputable charity so that services would be provided to them.

If you dig charity, donate.  But don’t expect Apple to do it—it’s not their role and it’s not the best use of their money, time, attention, or expertise.


Apparently publishers will sell books to libraries but are unwilling to sell e-books.
Yes Virginia, it is all about profits but Apple isn’t the most egregious.


I agree with the sentiments of this essay.  Apple’s actions will bite them in the butt very soon.  They will see their exclusivity as an obstacle to gaining authors.


For years now, Apple has treated partners like puppets.

Allen Murdock

One thing people seem to forget is that the 30% that Apple takes off the top of each sale in the iTunes Store, App Store, or iBookstore barely covers their expenses.  Apple incurs huge costs in credit card processing, which is very inefficient for small purchase amounts. Then there’s the infrastructure, bandwidth, administration, etc.

It’s well established from Apple’s quarterly conference calls that these online stores are maintained at only a very slight profit, if any, and that they exist to create demand for Apple hardware.

When the App Store for iPhone first opened up, developers were delighted to be able to keep 70% of a business while skipping a lot of the startup costs.  What happened between now and then?


I happened to be in the USA when the story broke that the President of GM said ’ we don’t make cars, we make money… ’  - or something like that.
Can’t remember when that was - but I remember the negative impact on GM sales.

I know businesses are in business to make money; but don’t tell the customers.

As I’ve said before - After ready the Steve Jobs book I felt ever-so-slightly ripped off by Apple over the years. Pity; because I really like using their stuff.

It doesn’t take much of a ripple to turn the tide.



Thoughtful comments, as usual; and I second the the sentiment above that hopefully someone at Apple reads them.

I also concur with the general principle that Apple need to sit back and see the larger picture, and I agree that they would be well-served by doing so.

That said, I think there is a still higher orbital view, of which Apple’s foray into digital interactive educational media is but a part. If Apple’s efforts are to succeed, it is because they conform to market forces, and exploit the opportunities they provide. Otherwise, someone else will find a superior formula, and take this enterprise further, relegating Apple to an inferior role. Either way, I maintain that Apple, having taken this first step, has used its corporate prominence and technical prowess to draw attention to an area of need, and that the industry will respond both cooperatively and, more importantly, competitively. That latter fact, plus the negative feedback from the publishing community - both Mac and non-Mac alike - will push Apple and the industry as a whole forward.

Whether or not the future solution to electronic textbook publishing is an Apple one is unknown, and largely irrelevant to the greater issue of its need and inevitability. Apple’s place in this is already set as an initiator. Whether or not it gets to be an architect is up to the market, in other words, us.

Duane Bemister

Glass houses. Apple will not charge anything to publish free books and they provide the authoring tool free as well.

iBooks can be indexed with WebSonar and viewed in any web browser.


See this take on the ?subject? by a book writer http://dimsumthinking.com/2012/01/21/a-writers-eula/

Thank you Lee. This article answers all the questions that haven?t been answered.

There is freedom in Apple?s actions that is not being taken into account.

I?m glad Apple has done what it has done, no holds barred.


Moronic whining all the time, coming from those that never contribute a single solution to anything.

Apple and only they should be thanked, for their incredible talent and imagination in providing us with tools with which to actually make text books and it’s content available through a organized channel, something that had not been possible up to now. 

OK, so you want it all for free? I see…. maybe that is why all you can contribute is a pathetic little note offering nothing really. Maybe that is why the US is in such bad economic shape, too many whiners.


Talking about the chinese factories is a pretty low blow considering every manufacturer of PC’s does exactly the same. So giving us that bull about the poor chinese working conditions isn’t just Apple. Foxcon is to blame not Apple for there working conditions. Also that 30 percent goes to help advertise, and make sure the content is safe to distribute. Something Android users know all to well about the malware and crap they get since Google doesn’t do this at all. Textbooks in paper form are a rip off at more than $250 plus for one book. The maximum price is now $14.95 so kids and parents can afford school. They can’t lose the book because Apple has a record of the purchase and they can re-download it for free.
You lose a paper book, good luck getting a free replacement. So for the price of two books you have an iPad that can be used for as many books as you desire. For $500 in the ibook store you could buy 33 books at the maximum price of $14.95. That’s a lot of books compared to only 2 on paper. If education is important, then why is Apple’s idea so bad? Because you can’t put it on an android device. Sorry that just doesn’t make any sense to me. Textbooks are really expensive, ask any college student. iBooks really makes them affordable and easy to get with way more content and ease of use in so many ways. I only see positive things from this.


I don’t see anything wrong about Apple making money and to accuse of being greedy really takes the cake.

Apple is making money because their products sell and sell well because they are better made and have great resale value.

Can you name one company which can stay afloat selling crappy products and even those that sell well also facing problem because of low margins.

Can giving the world 99? song, 99? apps and now $15 text book be accuse of being greedy and they host these on their servers too.

After reading this article it said one thing anything company which gives back and give away stuff is a great company in spite of ripping off users by selling their particulars and using them to sell ads.

Did anyone give a damn when Apple was in trouble?

Btw Mr Martallaro there is no free lunch abd naking money is not being greedy, it is a matter of survive - tell that to Kodak.

Skip Paquette

See this take on the ?subject? by a book writer http://dimsumthinking.com/2012/01/21/a-writers-eula/

Thanks Lee. Very enlightening article. There is also another article over at MacWorld that has information on iPads in education coming from people in education:



Can you name one company which can stay afloat selling crappy products

Microsoft comes to mind.:groucho:

Overall though, you make a good point.


Distributing books for free would be nice but, after all, Apple ought to be able to cover its costs of running the iBookstore etc. I’m not sure that there’s much left of the 30% once you pay for buildings, servers, bandwidth etc.

As many have said, Apple makes its money by selling hardware rather than content. With an iPad refresh tipped for real-soon-now, what would be *very* interesting is for the current iPad 2 to be available at an education-special price.


Interesting read John, however, I would like to point out that as an opinion I think that it is very easy to be magnanimous with other peoples money. Here is a point that I wonder about that may be a victim of your saber like pen. How would the output of iBooks Author work on any old POS tablet out there? Right now, today, shipped the software works on Apples iPad. Apple is a tight organization with control, villainous as you may portray it, so that the end user has what Apple wants as far as Apple sees fit. How much worse would your column be if Apple put out a FREE software that worked like crap on some POS tablet? Critics are always trying to defend against the score and never see the goal posts or hoop or home plate. Apple sees the Goal, you don’t see it. Do you?


The real issue is the abandonment of the Open Standard EPUB3 which Apple was backing for a while now. Now this is a proprietary closed system. How is this good for Education?

I want to read on my tablet
Read it on my phone (If possible)
Have it on a browser when I am doing research.
Have it searchable and tag able.
I want to cut and paste
I want Open Standards

Lee Dronick

The real issue is the abandonment of the Open Standard EPUB3 which Apple was backing for a while now. Now this is a proprietary closed system. How is this good for Education?

I want to read on my tablet
Read it on my phone (If possible)
Have it on a browser when I am doing research.
Have it searchable and tag able.
I want to cut and paste
I want Open Standards

I am sure that there will be plenty of text book authors and publishers who will be using non closed standards. It isn’t as if Apple death rayed the alternatives. The market, both supply and demand, will decide.


It might be possible that Apple would allow the author to publish a static content version for other e-book devices or even in traditional hardcopy.  But if one wants to maintain the functionality of iBooks 2, then it has to be maintained as an Apple “owned” product.

Having heard both sides of the debate, I have to follow Apple’s side of the argument.  Note that I was very much against Apple’s position at first (see the top posts), but I have come around to seeing it otherwise.  The arguments against Apple’s decisions are mostly based on emotions and the ethereal feeling of “liberty” and “freedom” which currently does not exist in traditional publishing.


Sadly, I don’t see open standards working. We need something that just works, whether or not it is some mythical shared standard, but a solution nonetheless. I doubt it will come from Amazon, and definitely not from the Android system which seems to be in perpetual change lacking direction. Even Google seems miffed with commercial manipulation and may be choosing to go it alone.

Unfortunately, Apple seems to be the only company capable of inventing anything workable. We saw what happened when Apple and Google seemed to be trying to work together (sitting on each other’s boards) with Google stabbing Apple in the back & v.v. Open standards just can’t and don’t work. They are slow to develop and impossible to make universal and end up satisfying no one.

Amazon uses Google’s Android but not in any open way. Open market capitalism just doesn’t work efficiently for social programs governed by cost constrictions. I doubt there is any political-economic system that does, baring war and government determination. It’s not human nature, at least in the commercial market, to work together when profit is the objective of the players. Apple, whatever your point of view might be, seems to have the knack of pulling rabbits out its hat at opportune times.


When you hear that Apple takes 30%: If you buy a book for $14.99, and pay with a $15 gift card purchased at your local supermarket, do you think the $15 that you paid for the gift card will all end up with Apple? Surely the supermarket wouldn’t bother selling these cards if they couldn’t keep a bit of the profit. However, the author will get 70% of $14.99, no matter how much money Apple actually received.


I think it’s important that there be some amount of proprietary control.  Imagine what would happen if students received different content because of mistakes in version control or actual maliciousness.  How can one compare?  Each student is reading from an iPad but student A reads something that is different than student B.

I don’t want to don my tin foil hat just yet, but can you see the ease of manipulating content if there’s no or little control on the veracity of the versioning system?

Lee Dronick

I don?t want to don my tin foil hat just yet, but can you see the ease of manipulating content if there?s no or little control on the veracity of the versioning system?

Winston Smith worked as a records clerk at the Ministry of Truth. His job was to rewrite historical documents so that they matched current beliefs.

“We shall meet again in the place where there is no darkness.”


To begin with, I agree with others who state that the whole China manufacturing issue is a low blow.  I would have thought by now that everyone understood that the ENTIRE high-volume electronics manufacturing world has their stuff built in Asia.  Apparently not I guess.

Bloomberg has another editorial on this whole piece that is worth a look. 

The revolution is that ordinary users—on the order of folks who can create a PowerPoint slide deck—can now produce copy that will run on the iPad. This is revolutionary. It will unleash the creative powers of thousands of authors and artists, to say nothing of us mere mortals. Just as important, it will spawn imitators. Expect to see a Google (GOOG) app that will allow users to create content for Android devices.

The barrier that concerns me, especially K-12 is the management burden that widespread adoption of iPad’s is going to spawn.  Educators need to worry about inappropriate content, time being wasted on games and Facebook, and whole host of other issues.  To me this makes me feel that Apple should consider entering the reader market JUST for the education vertical. 

Create a device that can be centrally managed and controlled from a Mac or PC, that does not much more than serve as a reader.  That would lower the price, entry fee and management burden.  EVERYTHING else would be opened up at the discretion of the school.  That would include what apps are allowed or not allowed on the device. 

Alternatively, give the schools the tools to manage current iPad’s this way.  Cost would still likely be an issue, but at least device management would not be a large burden.  Device Mgt already exists for the Enterprise - that starting point could be used as the foundation.


If people are going to start labeling Apple as “evil” for trying to make a profit off the education publishing market, where have you been with all the other profit taking going on?  What about the text publishers, putting out print books marked up 300%, 400%, even 500% above actual printing costs?  What about all those educational software developers who sell their software licenses, where the software is downloaded, meaning their “only” cost (besides developing the software - which Apple is giving away for free, BTW) is maintaining their servers?

Sorry, but labeling Apple Corp. as the “bad guy” here for (gasp) taking a skim off the top of eText sales is a load of bovine cookies.  Especially when the market CREATED by Apples’ eText store has driven text prices down..  So, Apple’s “proprietary” system is saving people anywhere from 50-90% on text books, and they’re “greedy” for taking 30% of the reduced costs - which have already been shown in other content market areas barely cover operating costs?  Get real, people!  Yes, education these days costs a ton - because we are WAY beyond doing math drills with chalk on a blackboard.  What kids need to learn these days is so far outside the content of what I learned in K-12 as to be a different world.  And to present the new content, we need new methods.  Apple is giving us one in the form of interactive (ie: potentially MUCH better than the more expensive print versions) text books, and is even GIVING AWAY the software needed to create these (potentially - it all depends on the authors) much better texts.

And if Apple makes a few bucks in the process, good for them. Profit motives are one of the best motivations for bringing out ever-advancing products.  I do not see teachers giving away their time (or benefits), or software companies giving away their products, or print text companies giving anything away.  Why is Apple supposedly going to be criticized for not giving their products away?


Content management has been a concern since we first started putting access to the Web in the schools.  There are already many avenues available to control things like online gaming or inappropriate content. Putting a firewall a the front end of a school district internet is but one, which we use very successfully.  (Sometimes too successfully - every week we are unblocking legitimate sites that trip the filters for one reason or another….)

pk de cville


Apple missed a wonderful opportunity to make a bigger difference AND be even more profitable (in the end).

Hope Tim recognizes this and adjusts the pricing somehow.

Here’s the nub: How does Apple take a smaller cut without all sorts of games being played around what’s an ‘educational’ book?

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