Apple to enter the digital textbook fray?

Neil Hughes, associate editor for the blog Apple Insider, cautioned educators about buying into speculation that Apple will introduce a web-based book store that will instantly revolutionize the textbook market.

And Apple officials should be wary of declining school and campus budgets before they target the academic textbook industry, Hughes said.

“This is a time when schools are cutting back on budgets, they’re not spending a ton of money,” he said. “How well received that will be is hard to say because this is a tough economic time and schools are feeling the squeeze from top to bottom.”

Schools and colleges, Hughes said, could pay a flat annual fee for textbook updates instead of purchasing a new batch of books every time changes are made, even if those alterations are only a few sentences in an entire book.

Golson said it’s fair to expect Apple products to take off in higher education because of the company’s popularity among young people. The company, however, will have to lure those who control school purse strings before a program or product gains traction on campus.

“The fact that the iPad is popular amongst college students helps, but it needs to be popular amongst the educators as well,” Golson said.

Apple has made inroads into K-12 schools and colleges in recent years as many iPad tablet pilot programs turned into full-blown initiatives and faculty and students used resources from iTunes University to supplement classroom lessons.

The iPad has proved more popular in higher education than other tablet computers largely because the device is more accessible for blind students than other tablets, especially early iterations of Amazon’s Kindle.

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