Bloomberg News

FCC Calls for U.S. Students to Have E-Textbooks in Five Years

February 06, 2012

Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- The head of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said he wants all students to have digital textbooks within five years and challenged industry and state leaders to spur the market.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan released guidance today for teachers and schools on making the transition to electronic textbooks. Genachowski said he would convene a meeting next month with chief executive officers of technology, wireless and publishing companies to encourage the e-textbook market. Companies including Apple Inc., Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. will be invited, said Neil Grace, a spokesman for the FCC.

“It won’t just happen on its own,” Genachowski said at an event in Washington. “We want to challenge all of the players in this ecosystem to do everything they can to move this country toward universal digital textbooks.”

The effort, aimed at students from kindergarten through 12th grade, is designed to move schools away from physical textbooks that weigh down backpacks in favor of interactive digital books that can be updated anywhere via the Web. Digital textbooks, which are a small part of the $7 billion U.S. textbook market, increase student productivity, enhance classroom learning, and improve academic performance, according to an FCC news release.

Apple last month introduced a service, called iBooks 2, to make digital versions of textbooks available on the iPad and beef up the education content for the tablet computer as it gains popularity in classrooms. More than 1.5 million iPads are being used for educational purposes, Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of product marketing, said at a Jan. 19 event announcing the service in New York.

--With assistance from Adam Satariano in San Francisco. Editors: Michael Shepard, Steve Walsh

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Engleman in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Shepard at

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