Although Apple has hogged much of the e-book spotlight since its announcement in January that it would partner with Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to roll out K12 e-Books in addition to its improved iBooks applications, it isn’t, nor ever will be, the only player in tablets in education. On the heels of Apple’s announcement, the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski released in early March his plans to get all U.S. students, from kindergarten through the 12th grade, using electronic book titles by 2017—in five years.
Since Apple’s venture into K12 e-books, one primary concern has been financing the new devices. The iBooks application is free to download, and all textbooks cost $14.99 or less. Apple, however, has yet to announce a plan to lower the prices of iPads, which currently begin at $499 a pop. Ensuring that each student, rich or poor, has access to an iPad before the digital curriculum can be rolled out in a district is key. Genachowski acknowledges the fiscal constraints on schools and anticipates aiding districts as much as the department can without additional money from the government. The U.S. spends $7 billion per year on textbooks.
While the U.S. appears to be united in its move toward e-books, they are far from being in the hands of every student. Until then, Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will continue to make digital content to supplement traditional textbooks.