Digital textbooks become US government policy?

The Obama administration clearly believes digital is the future of publishing for schools:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski on Wednesday challenged schools and companies to get digital textbooks in students’ hands within five years.

Full story here.

Although naturally the statement didn’t back a particular technology or platform, it comes one week after Apple’s announcement of iBooks Author and their vision for textbook publishing.

One of the biggest challenges to a US-wide roll-out of a digital curriculum is the hardware cost. Apple would be delighted to see every student through the US going to school with an iPad, but the price will make schools look hard at alternatives.

The likely results is that different hardware will be adopted in different areas, forcing publishers to cope with a patchwork of devices and operating systems: iOS and Android, Mac and Windows, desktop, laptop, tablet and phone. It’s looking like the secret to success for digital education publishing will above all else become the ability to deliver content across as many platforms and channels as possible – while still achieving a rich, interactive experience for the user.


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