What Steve Jobs Thought About Textbooks

From the Isaacson biography:

Most of the dinner conversation was about education. Murdoch had just hired Joel Klein, the former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, to start a digital curriculum division. Murdoch recalled that Jobs was somewhat dismissive of the idea that technology could transform education. But Jobs agreed with Murdoch that the paper textbook business would be blown away by digital learning materials.

In fact Jobs had his sights set on textbooks as the next business he wanted to transform. He believed it was an $8 billion a year industry ripe for digital destruction. He was also struck by the fact that many schools, for security reasons, don’t have lockers, so kids have to lug a heavy backpack around. “The iPad would solve that,” he said. His idea was to hire great textbook writers to create digital versions, and make them a feature of the iPad. In addition, he held meetings with the major publishers, such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple. “The process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt,” he said. “But if we can make the textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, then they don’t have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money.”

I’d be very surprised if there wasn’t an authoring component to this.

It’s long overdue.


Filed under Apple: The Company

13 responses to “What Steve Jobs Thought About Textbooks

  1. Pingback: Apple Plans Education Announcement for January 19 - GalleyCat

    • mikecane

      Yep. But Apple now has an end-to-end “solution,” as they no doubt see it. Still, it hasn’t toppled Amazaon and the Kindle — or Kindle Fire.

  2. Pingback: Free eTextBooks, but for what hardware? « Brenton LeMesurier

  3. Shock Me

    I think Apple’s inadequacies in this market are all at the creation end. They need better authoring and publishing tools. IT also wouldn’t hurt to have a better discovery mechanism than the blank search box.

    After viewing the Stanford University course on iOS development, I’d be interested to know how authors would be compensated in a free textbook market.

    Back when I was still in school MIT was doing some interesting things with free course-ware. That would be awesome on the iPad.

    • mikecane

      >>>I’d be interested to know how authors would be compensated in a free textbook market.

      This Geology Textbook sponsored by Exxon-Mobil via iAd. The nightmare!

  4. The first step to complete disruption of the current education system.

  5. AdamChew

    I really love your attempts to punk Apple.
    I kind of wonder how much Amazon pays you to keep their flame alive.

    Btw is Apple interested in toppling Amazon or it is just your wild imagination.

    • mikecane

      Before mouthing off like some jackass, did you stop to read any OTHER posts here? Oh no. That might have shown you what a jackass your first thoughts were. You couldn’t have that. Slink away now, you dumb fuck.

  6. Pingback: What Steve Jobs Thought About Textbooks - The Digital Reader

  7. I’d like to see textbooks free. But like you say, there has to be a money trail – unless you spin the authors with “it will please your college superiors,” deans, or whatever they’re called, good for your career – the old blag an author to work for free line.

    Still, there’s the weight issue – electronic textbooks don’t break your back in a backpack.

    Plus I’m all for ANYTHING that disrupts education, which mostly tries to create robots, automations. So the more outlaw ideas we can bring in the better.

    I don’t know much about the late Jobs. But he struck me as a guy who wanted a ton of money, but also had a strong rebel streak.

  8. Jan

    Guess, it’s more on access to these textbooks, a new system (software)…iPad with iTextbooks, who knows?

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