Steve Jobs' new biography talks about how Mr. Jobs wanted to transform the textbook industry, according to this NY Times article. The story talks about how Mr. Jobs met with the major players in the publishing industry to discuss how publishers could bypass the costly process of state certification of textbooks for K-12 if books were published on the iPad. Mr. Jobs is quoted as saying, “ We can give them an opportunity to circumvent that whole process and save money.” The idea, according to the biographer, was to employ textbook writers to develop digital versions of their textbooks on the iPad.
In some ways, this sounds much like the type of work that Inkling is doing -- working with some of the top textbook publishers and taking a number of top textbook titles and moving them into the Inkling platform. That platform at least initially is mostly focused on delivering its content to the iPad environment. Parts of the business model within Inkling, and how they source some aspects of development, are quite interesting. Seeing some of Steve Jobs' vision here play out within Inkling is not a big leap, as the CEO of Inkling, Matt McInnis, is a former Apple employee.
Such developments should again give college stores pause. The stores have value to provide to these transactions, but how do they become integrated into the new channel for content distribution?