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Summary:

This week Inkling debuted the 2.0 version of its software, which makes interactive and digital versions of college textbooks for the iPad. So GigaOM headed over to Inkling’s San Francisco headquarters to get an in-person demo from founder and CEO Matt MacInnis.

inkling demo video feature

A screenshot from GigaOM's video demo of Inkling 2.0

This week, digital publishing startup Inkling debuted the 2.0 version of its software, which provides interactive, digital versions of college textbooks for the iPad.

The San Francisco-based startup is just down the street from GigaOM’s office, so I headed on over to Inkling headquarters on Thursday to get an in-person demo from the company’s Founder and CEO Matt MacInnis. In short: It’s so awesome it actually makes me want to buy college textbooks again, just to play with the app some more.

Inkling 2.0 has a bunch of new features, including an interactive social layer that allows users to form online study groups with other readers worldwide, as well as in-app links to outside sources such as Wikipedia and Google. According to recent research, student demand for digital versions of required reading materials is at an all-time high, so Inkling 2.0 could prove to be quite popular at college campuses this coming fall.

Since Inkling’s product is so inherently visual, seeing it in action is the best way to understand what it is — so please check out the video of my interview with MacInnis and his demo here:

To read more about Inkling, you can check out our previous coverage here and here.

  1. A totally new textbook experience. I’m truly impressed with its features, sound quality is awesome! Happy tapping with Inkling!

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  2. Sweet Save the Trees.:-)

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  3. Ha ha ha! I head him say, oh really its the same price.. but cost less, cause you can’t see all the chapters… Oh good.
    Even better “you don’t have to worry if this book is going to be worth anything at the end of semester” Um yea cause you know “up front” its worth ZERO… come on folks, this is smoke an mirrors for sure

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  4. What a great idea. On a side note, can someone please school these interviewers on how to conduct an interview so that it appears moderately professional? What a dumb ass way to end an interview with “yeah”. It’s just like saying thank you to a waiter in a restaurant and getting the dreaded “no problem” in response. Grrr. But I digress huh? Yeah!

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  5. Bruce Benjamin Thomas Saturday, August 27, 2011

    School text books have always needed an upgrade and this looks like a large step in the right direction. The ability of the information to be updated easily, the interactivity, and saving the trees are all very important advances. Cost is yet another as text books have always be outrageously expensive. However the prices they are quoting are significantly lower, but I don’t think low enough. I always thought it wrong to milk poor students for money. Yet I understand the need for the companies to make money. Students also need to be aware that while with textbooks they could resale them back and recover some of their large investment, this eliminates that chance meaning it’s a way for the companies to make even more money–lower costs on their end and elimination of the second hand market.

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  6. Randhir Reddy Muddam Monday, August 29, 2011

    Great product a sure shot winner on hand. The i Generation will quickly adapt it.

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  7. This looks like a great product, thanks for sharing Colleen! Technology keeps raising the bar and it’s always exciting to see what’s next. It will be interesting to see if the reported demand for this type of product sustains itself. What do college students value more, their money or the ease of use and “cool factor” that Inkling can offer them? You’ve made us curious so we plan to capture social data for the next week or so to see what people are saying as back to school approaches and we will report back…

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Debbie.

      Student demand is important, but whether or not these new technologies take off is ultimately dependent on whether instructors warm to them. Students may love Inkling’s “cool factor,” but they only buy the materials that are assigned to them — and convincing professors to change the way they teach is a big challenge. Overall it’s certainly an interesting space to watch!

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  8. Colleen, as promised we did some research on the topic of etextbooks and student usage. You can read about what we found here: http://www.visibletechnologies.com/blog/2011/09/15/are-e-textbooks-taking-over-the-classroom/

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