Apple has been holding back significantly in the publishing area. Although the manufacturer has very attractive hardware with the iPad and the most mature digital sales platform with iTunes, they had still to come out with original ideas for our previously discussed “book” of the future (German link).
The competition – especially from Amazon – is far further along this road:
Even more interesting are innovative digital publishing models such as Amazon’s self-publishing platform CreateSpace or the temporary Domino Project which was brought to life together with Seth Godin (“reinventing the way books are created when the middleman is made less important“).
Instead of traditional sales models which are just translated into the digital world, Amazon and its partners have looked for ways to not only redefine the printed book format but to also radically change the role of the author.
But in the context of an ”Education Announcement“ Apple has introduced now some initiatives which could help the manufacturer win back some ground in the publishing area.
One of the initiatives is the iBooks 2, an app for industry and school textbooks which should significantly extend the eBook format with animated and interactive content. Apple has already partnerships with renowned textbook publishing houses Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill and Pearson who are planning to sell their eBook titles in the iBookstore for a maximum of $14.99. This would be a striking discount relative to the traditional highly priced textbooks.
More interesting for the publishing industry is the second Apple innovation, “iBooks Author”:
"iBooks Author is available today as a free download from the Mac App Store and lets anyone with a Mac create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books and more, and publish them to Apple’s iBookstore. Authors and publishers of any size can start creating with Apple-designed templates that feature a wide variety of page layouts. iBooks Author lets you add your own text and images by simply dragging and dropping, and with the Multi-Touch widgets you can easily add interactive photo galleries, movies, Keynote presentations and 3D objects."
Apple is thus evolving its iBookstore into a self-publishing platform which gives every person the possibility to create and sell eBooks. The education topic can be seen in this context as a first test run for this new model. Not surprising, because several of the interesting ideas to hit the publishing world is coming from the textbook world, for example demonstrated by Haufe-Lexware in Germany (German link).
In the run up to the Apple event, Matt MacInnis spoke to Arstechnica and attested to the plausibility of Apple’s publishing ambitions. MacInnis is a former employee of Apple who is now working on developing interactive textbooks as CEO of Inkling.
"Apple are selling tens of thousands of iPads into K-12 institutions," MacInnis told Ars. "What are they doing with those iPads? They don't really replace textbooks, because there's not very much content on offer," he said. Don't expect that content to come directly from Apple, however. "Practically speaking, Apple does not want to get into the content publishing business," MacInnis said. Like the music and movie industries, Apple has instead built a distribution platform as well as hardware to consume it — but Apple isn't a record label or production studio. But what Apple does provide is industry-leading tools for content production, such as Logic or Final Cut Pro, to help create content."
Originally posted in German by Mattias Hell, adapted for excitingcommerce.com by Jason Soo.