iOS publisher and interactive publishing platform Inkling has acquired the nonfiction iOS publisher Open Air for an undisclosed sum. While the official announcement phrases this deal as the acquisition of two of Open Air’s digital publishing brands — Betterbook and Ready, Set, Baby! — those two brands are, in fact, Open Air’s only two brands. So this is basically an acquisition.
Open Air’s iPad books are already built using Inkling technology, so it’s not much of a stretch for the two companies to get together. Open Air founder Jon Feldman will work as a consultant during the transition. Inkling is based in San Francisco, and Open Air is based in New York City.
Feldman founded Open Air in 2011; he’d previously led business development at College Humor. The company has seen success publishing interactive ebooks as standalone apps: Feldman told me this summer that Open Air sells 10 to 30 times more ebooks through Apple’s App Store than through the iBookstore. In total, Open Air has published 11 books, the bestselling of which is Master Your DSLR Camera.
Inkling was already selling Open Air’s titles through its apps and on its website, and that won’t change now. Inkling also plans to expand to Android soon. Open Air’s books will continue to be available as standalone iOS apps, and Inkling says it will also continue to develop new content for the existing titles.
Open Air had also had some barebones versions of its titles on Kindle, and those will not survive the acquisition. The Kindle titles “lack the interactivity, navigability and searchability that’s key for any kind of learning content on a tablet, so we’ll be removing them from sale in the Kindle store to focus on the Inkling experience,” Inkling CEO Matt MacInnis told me.
Inkling has raised $40 million, according to TechCrunch; in the round the company closed this summer, it nabbed $16 million and announced strategic partnerships with educational publishers Pearson and Elsevier. Open Air had raised a little under $1 million, including an $800,000 round in 2012.