Apple’s new eTextbook building and output platform

Apple’s new eTextbook building and output platform
Philip Schiller

On 19 January 2018, Apple announced its entry to the digital textbook market at an event at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. However, the reception by tech watchers is not enthusiastic who say that the company’s new build-your-own-textbook tool will lead to further fragmentation of an already crowded market.

Speaking at the event on behalf of Apple, the company’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Philip Schiller, said that Apple was “reinventing the textbook.” Aiming at the high school market initially, the company’s executives pointed to the higher education market too. Apple talked about its iBooks Author, a free book-making software that lets anyone build a rich-media textbook for the iPad. Authors can drag and drop images from iPhoto libraries, video clips from iTunes, and slides from Apple’s Keynote.

The book-building software or app runs on Macs only with output only for iPads and not on Android, which should be a huge disincentive in most parts of the real world outside California. Apple is a latecomer to the eTextbook market but publishers such as McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt took part in the event although they have as yet only made a few of their titles available for the new Apple iBooks2 app. Publishers did comment on the slick look of the new platform.

Apple also announced its first major upgrade to its iTunesU service, which has been available for 4 years and which makes it easier for teachers to use its free multimedia service as a course-management system that places the syllabi, lecture videos and podcasts together with the relevant textbooks inside a virtual folder for uploading to iTunes or downloading to an iPad.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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