Roger Rosner

Live from Apple's education event at the Guggenheim

January 19, 2012: 9:57 AM ET

New tools and platforms for replacing today's paper textbooks with iPads

Apple (AAPL) on Thursday introduced three new inititatives by which it hopes to "reinvent the textbook" around the iPad:

  • iBooks 2, a new iPad app and reading tool offering searchable, interactive, updatable  textbooks filled with as many videos, photo galleries, glossaries and study guides as publishers choose to throw in
  • iTunes author, a Mac app with an array of tools for creating these interactive textbooks
  • iTunes U app for the iPad, a way to publish entire curriculums online, now available for K-12. In its previous incarnation, it resided on iTunes; now it has its own app.
  • A price cap of $14.99 above which no publisher can charge if it wants to sell its textbooks through Apple's iBookstore.

Although the tools fell somewhat short of the widely expected "GarageBand for e-books" -- there was no "magic guitar" for turning out javascript widgets, for example -- the overall message was clear: it's going to be a lot easier in the future for publishers and educators to create a new generation of interactive textbooks ... as long as they do it the Apple way.

At least a dozen iPad textbooks are already available from such major educational publishers as Pearson and McGraw Hill for $14.99 or less. That's a price that could prove disruptive in an industry where textbooks often start at $60 apiece. It remains to be seen whether publishers will find it worth their while for $15 (or less, if Apple takes its usual 30% cut) to add all those interactive bells and whistles.

Apple's press releases on the new initiatives are available here and here. One of the videos shown at the event can be viewed here. Video of the entire event is available here.

Apple's shares, which hit a new intraday high of $431.37 before the event began, soon gave up most of their gains

Below the fold: Our live blog of the event.

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