Should Textbooks Be Free?

This post is part of a series dedicated to the late Steve Jobs, whose authorized biography is due out on Monday. Edudemic will return to its regular scheduled posts this coming week.


The leaks from the upcoming Steve Jobs biography are turning from drips into a downpour. The New York Times has revealed an interesting new tidbit about some of Jobs’ unfinished projects and ideas. He apparently wanted to transform the education textbook industry. While details are not yet known about what exactly he wanted to do, let’s hope he shared more information with others at Apple.

He held meetings with major publishers about partnering with Apple, the book says. If textbooks were given away free on iPads he thought the publishers could get around the state certification of textbooks. Mr. Isaacson said Mr. Jobs believed that states would struggle with a weak economy for at least a decade. “We can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money,” he told Mr. Isaacson.

This begs the more important question: how would YOU transform the textbook industry? After meeting and discussing this very issue with authors and illustrators at Adobe MAX, it seems the large textbook publishers are not quickly jumping onto the digital textbook bandwagon. In fact, it seems to be an unusually slow adoption of this new technology.

Let’s hope someone else besides Steve Jobs has been planning on transforming the textbook industry. Sooner than later, please.


1 Comment

  1. TristramShepard

    October 23, 2011 at 4:36 am

    Of course it would be great if textbooks were free. First, however, a question. Who is going to pay for them to be created in the first place? Also, although desirable, making textbooks free is not going to change the curriculum and improve the quality of teaching. We need new ways of learning as well as new technology.