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Inkling, which started out as an iPad (s AAPL) textbook publisher and recently launched an interactive e-book publishing platform called Habitat, is moving further into the consumer realm with a new series of Frommer’s interactive digital travel guides.
Inkling already powers a number of iPad book apps, including the Culinary Institute of America’s “Professional Chef” and Open Air Publishing titles like food52 Holiday Survival Guide and Speakeasy Cocktails. The Frommer’s titles — seven of them at launch, with at least a dozen more rolling out by the end of the year — will be available for iPhone as well as iPad and cost $9.99 or $14.99 (depending on the size of the destination) in the iTunes store. The titles launching today are among Frommer’s bestselling guides in print — Costa Rica, France, Alaska, California, Japan, Spain and Great Britain.
The guides include lots of retina-optimized photographs — most of which Frommer’s hadn’t been able to fit into its print guides before — and features like interactive guided destination tours and interactive maps, notebooks with shared notes and web links, and real-time weather. Users can make their notes public so that other users can see them — “like Trip Advisor layered on top of the curated content,” Inkling CEO Matt MacInniss told me. The authors of the guidebooks will also publicly share notes within the app. Users can choose which other users they want to follow. “We think this social piece is going to be pretty popular,” MacInniss said.
The iPhone and iPad apps sync, so travelers can peruse the books and plan on their iPads and then refer to their itineraries and notes from their iPhones once they’re traveling. Maps and other features are available in offline mode so they don’t eat up data.
Web versions of the guides will be available this summer.