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Fri., Jan. 20, 2012

Apple starts selling e-book versions of some standard high school textbooks

NEW YORK – Apple Inc. on Thursday launched its attempt to make the iPad a replacement for a satchel full of textbooks by starting to sell electronic versions of a handful of standard high school books.

The electronic textbooks, which include “Biology” and “Environmental Science” from Pearson and “Algebra 1” and “Chemistry” from McGraw-Hill, contain videos and other interactive elements.

The printed books are bought by schools, not students, and are reused year after year, which isn’t possible with the electronic versions. New books are subject to lengthy state approval processes, making the speed and ease with which e-books can be published less of an advantage.

Major textbook publishers have been making electronic versions of their products for years, but until recently, there hasn’t been any hardware suitable to display them. PCs are too expensive and cumbersome to be good e-book machines for students.

The new textbooks are legible with a new version of the free iBooks application, which became available Thursday. The textbooks will cost $15 or less, said Phil Schiller, Apple’s head of marketing.

Associated Press

American Airlines pensions underpaid

DALLAS – Federal officials say that American Airlines contributed only $6.5 million of the $100 million it was supposed to pay into employee pension plans this week.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. called the underpayment “a disturbing development.”

American and its parent company filed for bankruptcy protection in November. The director of the pension-insurance agency has warned American not to terminate its pension plans.

Associated Press

FDA delays decision on diabetes drug

TRENTON, N.J. – U.S. regulators have told partners Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and AstraZeneca PLC they can’t approve its experimental drug without more data.

The Food and Drug Administration decision Thursday comes after expert FDA advisers in July recommended that dapagliflozin not be approved. They cited elevated rates of bladder and breast cancer seen in clinical studies, plus concerns about infections and possible liver damage.

Dapagliflozin is part of a new class of drugs for Type 2 diabetes called SGLT-2 inhibitors, which reduce blood sugar by increasing how much is excreted in the urine and also help patients lose weight.

The companies said they’ll work with the FDA to determine their next steps and are committed to dapagliflozin, which has been tested in more than 5,000 patients in 19 clinical studies.

Associated Press

Earnings reports

Microsoft Corp. battled through a weak PC market to post flat earnings in the final quarter of 2011. Net income in the company’s second quarter through December came to $6.62 billion, down slightly from the $6.63 billion a year ago. Revenue rose 5 percent to $20.89 billion.

Southwest Airlines said net income rose 16 percent as revenue jumped 32 percent, thanks largely to last May’s acquisition of AirTran Airways. Net income was helped by $86 million in special items, mostly gains from fuel-hedging contracts that increase in value when oil prices rise.

Union Pacific Corp.’s fourth-quarter profit jumped 24 percent as the nation’s largest freight railroad operator increased prices and hauled more cargo. Net income rose to $964 million, or $1.99 per share, during the last three months of 2011, up from $775 million, or $1.56 per share, a year ago. Revenue grew 16 percent to $5.1 billion from $4.41 billion a year ago.


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