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