As another academic year starts, about 500,000 children across the country will find themselves learning subjects like middle school history or high school biology from a new line of digital textbooks. These manuals, branded Techbooks, come with all the Internet frills: video, virtual labs, downloadable content.
But the Techbook may be most notable for what it does not have — backing from a traditional educational publisher. Instead it has the support of Discovery, the cable TV company.
Discovery, which also sells an educational video service to school districts, is entering the digital textbook market largely because it sees a growth opportunity too good to pass up.
Conventional textbooks for kindergarten through 12th grade are a $3 billion business in the United States, according to the Association of American Publishers, with an additional $4 billion spent on teacher guides, testing resources and reference materials. And almost all that printed material, educators say, will eventually be replaced by digital versions.
“It’s kind of perfect for us,” said David M. Zaslav, chief executive of Discovery Communications, which owns networks like Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC. “Educational content is core to our DNA, and we’re unencumbered — unlike traditional textbook publishers, we’re not defending a dying business.”Page 1 of 7 | Next Page