By, John Conley, Vice President of Publishing, Xerox Corporation

The textbook industry is ripe for a digital revolution – as evident today with Apple’s announcement of interactive, digital education materials. But is removing paper completely from the education equation a feasible option – either from learning or a cost perspective? Will students completely swap textbooks, notepads, pens and highlighters for one electronic device?

Paper is paper no matter what level of education and people are hard wired to use it in the learning process. But with digital textbooks, we are moving from classroom lectures to a dynamic, interactive learning experience where the printed textbook will no longer be the main component in the education process.

With iBooks 2 and iBooks Author, customized digital materials can be created to enhance the learning experience – for example, digital textbooks that integrate labs and real-world experiences paired with supplemental printed handouts that are created by instructors. The combination could take learning to a whole different level.

Universities have been asking for digital textbooks for years and with the proper infrastructure in place and content available, we will see a very quick uptick in adoption.

In the K-12 market, AP courses and specialty one-off titles are excellent targets for this solution. It is unknown if adoption states and open-territory school districts could make room in their budgets for a technology infrastructure update of this nature – it seems likely that the printed textbook for the major K-12 series will hold on a bit longer.  

Xerox will continue to play a role in the education process, providing digital print-on-demand solutions in support of the new and more dynamic textbooks enabled by Apple.

So, what do you think – is the textbook revolution a good thing?