Apple has planned a media event at the end of January in New York City with current speculation suggesting that Apple is preparing to revolutionize digital textbooks.

Isaacson first suggested in Steve Jobs biography that Apple were looking to hire textbook writers in order to create original digital textbooks on the iPad.

“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 major publishers, such as Pearson Education, about partnering with Apple.”

A source close to Apple released the following details:

  • This event will focus on iTunes University and Apple in education
  • I learned of the event back in September when it was originally scheduled for late Fall in New York but it was eventually postponed.
  • The event will be in New York rather than in the Silicon Valley because New York is more centrally located for textbook and publishing.
  • This initiative has been in the making for years.
  • The announcement will be small in size but large in scope–a big announcement in a demure space.
  • I expect at least two large project announcements as they relate to Apple in education.
  • Steve Jobs was intinimately [sic] involved with this project before his passing. He gave a hat tip to the textbook side of this project in the Isaacson biography.
  • This will not be a hardware-related announcement.

There are also further suggestions indicating the announcement could likely involve support for the EPUB 3 standard, which enables a wider variety of multimedia and interaction features.

All the evidence suggests that Apple is likely to bring important changes to the iBook platform with a particular focus on academia. We have already seen the successful creation of engaging interactive textbooks courtesy of Inkling whilst companies such as CourseSmart offer a wealth of titles to students.

Perhaps Apple is considering launching its own platform to compete with these eTextbook developers using its considerable resources. ArsTechnica notes “Digital textbooks represent another nascent market that Apple could potentially upend as it did with music and mobile apps”. If Apple does push into the education industry then we can expect to see more mobile technology integration into the classroom.