I have been working on finishing the series on disaggregated textbooks and on a new series on territorial rights in a digital world. But alas, production has been slowed by work and life of late. However, with the following announcement now public, I promise to get back to posting somewhat more regularly.
In my last post, What’s Next in Digital Reading I explored my notion that there are three kinds of reading; extractive: immersive, and pedagogic. Extractive reading works in digital form as finding and extracting data and information is optimized by the power of digital. Immersive reading struggled to flourish in digital form until the e-ink screen went mainstream with the release of the Kindle. Pedagogic reading, the kind done when learning from a textbook, has yet to take hold as there hasn’t been a device and/or business model for delivering lesson-based reading that has gained any traction. However, this is all about to change dramatically because of the iPad. Read the rest of this entry »
Though I disagree with your “clues”, your conclusion is interesting.
First off, you need to check your facts. Apple and iPad are not providing the suite of productivity tools freely. They are paid for apps, just like on any other OS, and their cost is substantially lower than commercial suites, and higher than free ones.
Furthermore, as anyone who has used Apple’s productivity suite of tools knows, there is a huge amount lacking in them– namely the ability to move a file from your iPad to another device– or sync it in any way. Long way to go before it really is “productive.”
Second, the iPad can certainly be used to access porn. And it’s done just like every other computer does it– through the browser. It’s all just a URL away. As you correctly point out, Steve is just trying to toss Android under the bus, along with Google, Adobe, Flash, Verizon, developers and a whole host of other people he’s spoken ill of publicly recently. Not very becoming for a CEO.
One reason I believe there will be no large scale adoption of the iPad in Education markets is because folks in Education know they cannot count on Apple to be a good partner. Do you think Steve would accomodate their wishes? For instance, If they need the iPad to have a USB slot so kids can load their homework assignments? Nope. But, on the other hand you can be sure Android tablets will have such a feature.
Another concern with Apple is the concept of a single source supplier. Apple can dictate pricing and usage plans with zero competition. But if an Android tablet is used, there will be HP, Asus, Dell and a host of other suppliers of the hardware, and the software will be much easier to write for and deliver, because it can be created in Flash or bunch of other HDE (High Level Development Environment) which allow developers to write apps faster and with less bugs. Unfortunately, Steve has limited the development of iPad apps to only his Objective-C toolkit– which is not an HDE. There are many more programmers available to program for Android than there will be for iPad.
Google Apps on Android will be much better suited for education as all the data is stored in the cloud. And of course Kindle and Nook and the rest will also be on Android, along with a huge amount of Flash educational content which won’t play on iPads.
So, in the end, I disagree with your hypothesis. Apple knows it cannot compete in education, and is not targeting it as a primary market for iPad.
Not sure how else to submit this question to you, so I’m going to tag along with the Ipad comments.
I watched the Cspan-2 broadcast over the weekend with you among a panel of others discussing electronic publishing. On the topic of (type of) edition bundling, you and one or two others repeated the idea of purchasing first a hardcopy then being able to add-on the download for a reduced price. In the software world, it’s more typical to purchase the download with a small add-on fee to receive a hardcopy by mail.
My primary interest in e-reading is to reduce the amount of “stuff” I have to maintain, store and move from one place to another through my life. Of the titles I would purchase, I am far more likely to choose an e-publication first, and then only purchase hardcopy editions of the materials that I would find worthwhile (by my personal definition) to own in that form.
I’d be interested to hear more about why the hardcopy-first method of bundling would be preferred, if indeed that is the case.
I agree that the iPad is a great gateway “drug”. If the majority of kids think something is cool than they are going to be more prone to use it. And we all know that the iPad is the cool thing right now with a lot of people. This isn’t to say that next week, month, year something else won’t be out there that is cooler than the iPad. So hopefully this can be a catalyst to a new age of learning.
As far as Apple not being a good partner in education, I don’t agree with that comment. My school had some of the first Apple computers in the state of Illinois, and I was lucky enough to be a part of that program. My daughter is now in the same school district and they have computer labs in every school full of Apple computers. The corporation has been a good partner with education in my area. Hopefully we are not the exception to the rule. As far as schools getting the iPads that doesn’t seem to likely in the near future with the sales going the way they are. It is always better to sell than donate.
Jane is correct, my wife and I had a 2 hour discussion on how and why the current crop of kids is a lost cause. You should see some of the resumes that come across my desk. Unreal how some of them are even able to find their way home. I do like the take of the online book store to take on the kindle so I guess the conclusion can be reading digital media is still better than not reading at all. Pax et bonum
Correct me if I’m wrong (someone doubtless will) but wasn’t there a significant test of the iPad on a number of campuses this past academic year? I believe the data showed students — some undergrad, some in professional schools — overwhelmingly did not like using the iPad as their textbook e-reader and note-taker. Evidently a large percentage quit the test anywhere from three to eight weeks into the semester and reverted to print textbooks and note-taking on their laptops. I have no idea what this means for the future of the iPad as a higher ed curriculum platform; probably just that Apple and Pearson will learn a few lessons and adapt as necessary. But I think it does indicate that the iPad, at least in its present iteration, is not automatically a magic bullet, killer app for the higher ed market, regardless of how cool it is for entertainment uses.
The history of digital reading in a fascinating one and I believe exploring its development arc helps predict the trends that may lie ahead. Thinking about what worked early on – meaning what was read in digital form – use cases where search, find, and quick read were the primary means of interacting with the content, such as encyclopedias and reference works, directories and other data driven compendia.
Very thoughtful and original post. You make a critical point that textbooks matched the ecosystem of learning: one class moving at a constant speed from a common starting point to a common ending point. And clearly, digital change enables our learning materials, at least, to be much more nuanced than that.
Re: “The basic assumption of each text is that students all come in at or near the same level and leave at or near the same level.”
Having taught a foreign language from various textbooks, I can say that there is no class in which everyone is assumed to be at exactly the same level, though it is perhaps always a quixotic hope. The teacher inevitably makes adjustments for as many students as possible. FL textbooks are designed to be used in precisely this way. Many include sets of questions in the introduction to help the student determine what to work on, as well as tests at the end of chapters. Students naturally learn to work with the textbook at their own pace. A good teacher expects more from advanced students and recognizes real progress in the less advanced students.
I’m not sure there is anything earth-shattering a digital book can bring to *this aspect* of the textbook. It is up to the author to create a pedagogically sound design, and up to the teacher to coach the students on how to use the textbook.
One way a digital approach might address the problem of different levels of ability is a kind of rental or buy-in to a whole set of textbooks, so the student is free to move forwards and backwards through the material preceding and subsequent to the class.
But even this may be resisted by educators. After all, the student is always free to go to the library for more material, or to work with a tutor if they are behind. The whole point of a class is to be working together on a subject, to be on the same page. That motivates less advanced students to catch up, and it helps the ‘advanced’ students to solidify material of which they may not yet have a perfect grasp.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing two of the most influential forces in publishing today: Cathie Black of Hearst and Jane Friedman of Open Road Integrated Media at the Publishing Business Expo. We spent an hour talking about the impact of digital on the book and magazine industries and both Cathie and Jane were immensely impressive. To open our session entitled Reinventing Today‘s Publishing Company,Cathie and Jane each spent 10 minutes in their opening remarks. Jane presented the 4-layered “cake” that is the structure of Open Road, and Cathie played a video and followed it up with an overview of the goal behind the massive effort that will roll out behind the campaign entitled “Magazines, The Power of Print.”
After she played the video Cathie said “We don’t have a print problem in magazine publishing, we have an advertising problem.” I couldn’t agree more.
Brian O’Leary (who knows magazines the way you and I know books) wrote a great post on his blog about how the mags have built these huge and costly rate bases so that they’re getting killed on their print fulfillment at the same time the ad market tanked. Unfortunately for them, print advertising is a form of “broadcast media” that isn’t particularly “careful” about whom it hits (unlike a targeted Google message) and brooks almost no “response” (as in click-thru.) So magazine publishers committed themselves to selling print ads just ahead of watching the business really tank.
I think the poor magazine publishers have already bought a lifetime supply of lemons. You’re right that lemonade won’t sell as Diet Coke, beer, or Pinoit Noir, but I’m afraid they don’t have a lot of choice.
Glad Black Plastic Glasses is back in the saddle and proud to be delivering the first comment of the new era.
Thanks Mike – I am always flattered to be in your company!
I agree that the magazine folks are indeed in a pickle and its not one they necessarily caused – Madison Avenue sold the world on display advertising and the rates just grew from there.
While they do have great circulation and great audience penetration – but when dollars are too valuable to be be ventured against donuts, display advertising and its lack of direct action-ability takes a far back seat seat to campaigns that pay for performance.
I hope the publishers in the video find ways to take advantage of their amazing brands and build content verticals around their products that bring their customers online. I hope they do it sooner than later as the closing this past fall of venerable magazines such as Gourmet is simply a harbinger of things to come.
I admit I haven’t been able to find all your opinions on the downside to publishers dealing through e-commerce ,however has anyone addressed the fact that people are not likely to lend others their e readers therefore forcing the sale of many more books than a publisher might have sold to begin with..I think it is so obvious that a new novel or especially a textbook is loaned out and given away or read by many others that cannot be monetized by a publisher, so to me if they get to sell a book via e commerce they are likely to sell and earn from many more downloads than actual hardcover sales.
First of all, congratualtions on your new work gig!
As someone who still puts food on the table by virtue of working in print, I think the recent “pro-print” campaign has the same desperate feel as re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
The chief problem with print advertising is that it is inherently difficult to measure. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone present a credible ROI for print advertising. Not to say that print advertising doesn’t work, but does anyone really know how well it works? This is where digital has a significant advantage.
And to Eric’s post above, at some point, just like with music, the content of e-readers will be easily transported to other devices post-purchase, eliminating the need to “loan” an expensive device (people don’t loan their iPods to friends, but they certainly do share the content of their iPods).
Gooooogle: what happens when they ‘own’ digital copies of all non-copyrighted books? (or is it all books everywhere that they are trying to grab?) Will the world end? Or will mankind just continue to get stupider, once the original copies have been disposed of and there’s no way to tell what they’ve altered in the digital version?
For example, will 1984’s Winston Smith character one day become a kindly rescuer of lab rats liberated by animal rights activists, whose passion for maltreated rodents is assisted by a certain benevolent Internet company’s search engine features, which allows him to organize the movement much more quickly than if he’d had to rely on word of mouth or even yesterday’s electronic mass media?
Maybe more to your liking: what happens to your business and the business of other actual publishers with a history of making stuff out of paper, ink and leather once Goooooogle digitizes it all? I know there’s not much backlist market, (but then why is Gooooogle so hot to acquire this stuff?!?), but are there implications for the publishing business?
Looking forward to your soon return! Please include some morsels of your travels to exotic and faraway places, whatever you write about. It’s like adding a little garlic pepper sauce to your soup.
Nice to see you read my blog! I also see you are as creative and paranoid as ever!
I dont fear the Goog nor do I fear Apple as a publisher as I find them to be dangerous and powerful giants focused on other goals and businesses – in the case of Google its Search and Advertising in the case of Apple its Hardware and Software. Creating content is in their core missions nor do they see themselves as core to the publishing ecosystem.
There are far greater threats to book publishers that Google/Apple can help to neutralize if we work with them wisely. This will be the theme of BPG for the foreseeable future – but a bit of travelogue might not be a bad idea! I am thinking of starting with street tacos in Mexico City…
I may be paranoid, but I am no Luddite (obviously). Still, it is disconcerting to see the paradigm shifting so rapidly. I — fear is not the right word — dislike is probably better — that a couple of college geeks who were essentially just bright code-monkeys have figured out, with their Boolean strings and webcrawlers, how to ride on the backs of the thousands of database administrators who built the web — database administrators who are basically people who build electronic library shelves. That’s not bad in itself, but now Gooooogle has transmogrified from this mildly annoying but harmless spinster librarian into a bald guy in an expensive but tasteless suit stroking a purring Angora cat on his lap as he plots world domination from his bunker. (Probably now they’ll publish all my personal information, once their bots find this post.) (Oh wait, they already have, and I didn’t get a dime for it.)
Looking forward to your thoughts on the real threats to publishing, and to news of the current state of Mexico City street tacos, and perhaps some descriptions of authentic curry from Bangalore, or figgy pudding from Warwickshire.
Also, and meaning no disrespect, but what is a ‘publishing ecosystem’ exactly? And where does OUP fit into that? Are you part of the canopy, perhaps?