Apple's new digital textbook initiative is Steve Jobs' brainchild, McGraw-Hill CEO Terry McGraw says.
"Sitting and listening to all of this, I wish Steve Jobs was here," McGraw told All Things Digital in an interview referring to Apple's iBooks 2 announcement yesterday. "I was with him in June this past year, and we were talking about some of the benchmarks, and some of the things that we were trying to do together...This was his vision, this was his idea, and it all had to do with the iPad."
Apple yesterday unveiled its plans for playing a more integral role in education. Chief among the announcements was iBooks 2, a digital-textbook initiative that will let publishers create interactive titles. Apple showed how the textbooks, which will run on the iPad, can increase student interest through video, 3D images, and other multimedia content. The textbooks--for high school, at least--will cost $14.99 or less.
Apple's push into the education market didn't surprise many industry observers. In Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, the author wrote that the company's co-founder had "set his sights on textbooks," since he believed the $8-billion-a-year business was "ripe for destruction."
Jobs' "idea was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad," Isaacson wrote. "In addition, he held meetings with the major publishers such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple."
iBooks 2, and even Apple's revamped iTunes U, which provides an education portal for students and instructors, could be a coup for the company. Prior to yesterday's announcement, none of the major textbook publishers had fully embraced digital versions. Now that they have, Apple might be able to corner that lucrative market.
But now that Apple has entered the digital textbook race, might other companies, like Google, follow suit? When All Things Digital's Peter Kafka asked McGraw if his company will bring digital textbooks to other platforms, the executive sidestepped the question, deciding instead to stick with Jobs, saying that he and Apple did more "in terms of creating this personalized learning platform than anyone."