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.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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