By Lou Washington

I know there will be a chorus of voices putting down Apple’s motives for moving into the textbook market. But, honestly I can’t see any downside to this.

I don’t care if you’re a student, professor, parent, school administrator or author, this is going to be good for you.

Just consider the following:

  • Cost – Textbooks are far more expensive then market books because they are produced in smaller numbers than say, John Grisham novels. Much of that cost difference can be eliminated in the electronic format.
  • Currency of content – Again, school systems stretch dollars by delaying textbook replacement. Many times this means students are reading and learning material that is simply out of date. This format will allow updating and post sale edits. The book does not have to become obsolete.
  • Portability – You can take your iPad anywhere and view it anytime. Now that knapsack can be used for beer and other useful things. Seriously, one of my most not cherished college memories was the lugging of stuff around campus.
  • Format – The printed page has served us well for several hundred years. The iPad, the eReader and other devices offer fantastic opportunities to expand the scope of what text books do. They can actually present knowledge and teach knowledge versus simply recording it in a static format.
  • Stimulate creativity – One of the great benefits of e-published music and books is the fact that anyone who desires can create and self publish their own work. In the publish or perish world of academia, this has to be a huge plus.
  • Green issues – Trees all over the planet are breathing a big sigh of re-leaf (sorry). Paper is a great product, but, most books are read once and then placed on a shelf until the owner finally decides to get rid of them. Sure there are libraries and used book stores, but eventually way too many end up in the land fill.

I could go on with more bullets, but I think the point is made.

Apple has always been a strong supporter of education and this is another example of how they are really quite at home in the academic world. In the early days of the company, they readily donated or heavily subsidized academic use products for colleges and secondary schools throughout the country.

There will be some that suggest they are trying to corner the textbook market, but I think this is a market with plenty of room for more players. With Windows tablets on the near horizon, the whole tablet market is ready for a some healthy competition.

Any college student from my generation will well remember moving day with the boxes and boxes of books and the hundreds of pounds of LP phonograph records. No wonder we drank so much beer, we were dehydrated from schlepping all that stuff around campus.

Thanks Apple! Wish you’d have been around in my college days.