Textbooks signed for iPad, Apple courts newspapers

CNET is reporting that Apple has signed textbook publishers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Kaplan Publishing, McGraw-Hill Education, and Pearson to port their textbooks to upcoming iPad.

Announced on Wednesday, the agreements were made with ScrollMotion, a company that develops the iPhone e-reader app Iceberg Reader and works with publishers to digitize their books for the mobile market.

The digital textbooks promise a slew of options to take advantage of the medium, according to ScrollMotion. Students can mark text in any of six different colors to visually categorize each highlight. They can write notes or use the microphone built into the iPad and iPhone to record audio notes.

Students can also search for text by subject, topic, and other criteria. The digital books are even capable of playing quick videos to accompany the content. Finally, students can take interactive quizzes and track their right and wrong answers on the device.

In the newspaper industry, rumor blogs Gawker and NYMag report that Steve Jobs held a private dinner with New York Times executives and another meeting with Wall Street Journal executives presumably about enlisting their products for the iPad. Other than what he ordered and wore on his head, the only salient information proffered is that top meetings took place.

Amazon doesn’t look like it’s going to lie down and play dead with the iPad coming on the scene. The New York Times reports that Amazon has acquired Touchco – a company that specializes in touch screen technology.

Touchco uses a technology called interpolating force-sensitive resistance, which it puts into displays that can be completely transparent and could cost as little as $10 a square foot. The capacitive touch screens used in the iPad and iPhone are considerably more expensive. Unlike those screens, the Touchco screens can also detect an unlimited number of simultaneous touch points.

ComicsAlliance interviews Randall Munroe of XKCD, Chris Onstad of Achewood and other webcomickers about their reaction to tablet. In a word, “meh.