E-textbook veteran CourseSmart defends its turf

Written on:January 20, 2012
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Apple is not the first company to introduce the idea of interactive and digital textbooks for mobile devices. And the players that are already doing that are, unsurprisingly, not super thrilled with all the attention Apple is getting today. And they’re defending their territory.

CourseSmart, a digital textbook company, that happens to be backed by some of the biggest players in academic publishing — including some of those who Apple announced as partners today — sent a long-ish statement right after Apple’s announcement on Thursday.

The company, which currently has 20,000 digital textbooks and an iOS app, points out that buying iPads and forcing a specific device standard may not go over well with all schools. (“Are they asking students to shell out hundreds of dollars from their cash strapped pockets to purchase a dedicated device instead of using what they already own? Did they really just announce plans to develop a ‘secret’ learning management system with the iTunesU App?” they ask rhetorically.)

But then Coursesmart starts defending its territory: professionally produced e-textbooks from the established academic publishing industry. Not just anyone can make a textbook, they say.

“This content needs to¬† not only be developed by subject matter experts, but, more importantly, edited through an academic lens in order to ensure learning takes place and our youth is prepared to compete in a global economy. Publishers and authors will remain the drivers of high quality content.”

CourseSmart’s texts are mainly for the higher education, and Apple seemed pretty careful to target K-12 with its e-textbook authoring tool. But still — while Apple says it wants to be additive to the industry, its very presence is upsetting to some of the established players. Will Apple start targeting college and university textbooks next? CourseSmart implies that they think so.

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