The late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had discussed plans to shake up the textbook industry, including an effort that would have included free textbooks with iPads, according to a biography released this week.
“Jobs had his sights set on textbooks as the next business he wanted to transform,” says a passage in the new book, Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson. It notes that Jobs said he had met with several major textbook publishers, including Pearson. It appears that his primary focus was on the K-12 textbook market. “The process by which states certify textbooks is corrupt,” Mr. Jobs is quoted as saying. “But if we can make the textbooks free, and they come with the iPad, then they don’t have to be certified. The crappy economy at the state level will last for a decade, and we can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money.”
Mr. Jobs was less keen on the power of his products to change other aspects of education, according to the book. Rupert Murdoch said that during a dinner he had with Mr. Jobs recently, the Apple co-founder was “somewhat dismissive” of technology’s ability to transform education.
Several colleges, meanwhile, have embraced the iPad tablet computer, starting pilot projects to use them in teaching.
The New York Times‘s Bits Blog looks at several details in the new biography that hint at Apple’s future plan.