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Summary:

Startup Inkling is bringing interactive college textbooks to the iPad, having secured Series A financing for the venture. The textbooks take advantage of the strengths of the iPad, with augmented graphics and video in the content, while allowing note sharing in real-time among students.

Inkling notes

Startup Inkling is bringing interactive college textbooks to the iPad, having secured Series A financing, from Sequoia Capital, Kapor Capital, Sherpalo Ventures and Felicis Ventures. The company is releasing four popular titles from McGraw-Hill covering biology, economics, marketing and psychology. Inkling is making it possible to space out the high cost of textbooks by offering them on a chapter basis, as cheaply as $2.99 per chapter while entire books start as low as $69.99. These prices are in effect for a limited time, then going up to the standard prices of $3.99 and $84.99 (and up).

The Inkling textbooks take advantage of the strengths of the iPad, with augmented graphics and video as a standard offering in the content. A social aspect has been introduced, as students can highlight text and share notes in real time with other Inkling users. These notes can be viewed alongside the textbook page, making it possible for students to collaborate or professors to share thoughts about the material being covered. Michael Wolf over at GigaOM Pro analyzes the social e-book (subscription required), and notes that student-based interactive books will likely be the way social e-books will begin to enter the mainstream.

Parents are already shelling out big bucks for send their kids to college, and it’s not a sure bet adding a $500 iPad on top of those costs is going to happen. The iPad is not likely to replace a student’s need for a laptop or other computer, so digital textbooks may be a hard sell.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Analyzing the Social E-book

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  1. That’s what i’m talkin’ bout. This is eBook done right. When will colleges just forgo those expensive textbooks and issue all students an iPad. Mandatory iPad would increase the knowledge retention of those ADHD students who tend to get bored rapidly with stale page hardback dinobooks.

    I would love to see some progressive state legislatures mandate the iPad for all public schools, specially grade school where they learn the most.

    Unfortunately this would give the APple iPad a monopoly but it will be worth it because the end result will be huge increases in test scores and knowledge retention rates that will make junior’s head swell up with iPad goodness.

    Steve did good. :-)

    Apple +1

  2. I’d be happy with unembellished ePub versions. It’s already possible to annotate in iBooks, and any greater degree of “interactivity” is a solution looking for a problem, IMO. ePub would also me it convenient for independent publishers to see non-DRMed materials without having to go through Apple (which is how I get my O’Reilly books).

    And I’d hate to see a situation where students were forced to buy an iPad, which would give Apple and publishers exclusive control over all textbooks’ pricing and distribution — no possibility of buying used copies, for instance.

  3. Chris Grayson Sunday, August 22, 2010

    Smart move, though I think the price-point is too high. It would be much better to go for volume. Look at the size of the market.

    I wrote a piece about the iPad prior to product launch, where I identified the student textbook market as one of five categories for the iPad to perform well:

    Healthcare industry
    Growing the eBook Reader Pie and bringing in periodicals
    Student Textbooks
    Various parts of supply chain management/warehouses/distribution
    Mobile cash registers on the floor in retail environments

    http://www.armeetup.org/forum/showthread.php/5-The-Apple-iPad?p=26

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