UPDATE: Video Link to iBooks Textbooks overview
When I worked for Steve to reconstitute the Apple University Consortium in 1997, it was clear then how passionate Steve was for the education market. Not only did he believe (then) that technology could change the way students learn - but he also believed that the Education market could be an important foothold for Apple's business over time. Get students excited about the Mac in college and they become lifelong purchasers and evangelists.
Yet Steve learned an important lesson over time (and his experience trying to sell NeXT exclusively at Higher Education cemented this belief): that technology alone could not change the way students learn. Students - and teachers - needed more than just access to technology to change the world of education.
Apple has quietly been working with publishers and textbook providers to help them see this vision: while Kindle has helped some well-off consumers experience a better way to consume their New York Times Bestseller's fix, it has done nothing to help reduce the burden on average cash-strapped student wallet or back(pack). Apple aims to change this.
While not for everyone, Apple's new iBooks Textbook platform will apply Apple's ease of use to a traditionally murky process: publishing ebooks or textbooks. Naturally Apple's solution will make it simple to publish directly to the iBookstore and is aimed squarely at students' iPads. This becomes something of a virtuous cycle: faculty can easily publish custom books for their classes and require their students to use that book...which requires them to purchase an iPad.
The economic are simple: just a few textbooks can cost a student more than an iPad and are likely to never be used again. And the missing element is finally provided: interactive content that compels students to learn anywhere and everywhere. Apple hopes this revitalizes the textbook industry with the iPad at its center - just as it put the iPod at the center of the rebirth of digital music. Companies like Kno will give up building their own dual-screen tablet and instead focused on building great software with the iPad as their delivery tool.
If fact, this revolution already begun.