We’re no longer in college, and while there are many downsides to this fact, one of the upsides is that we don’t have to endure long boring classes, and lugging around heavy text books for a full day.However, if we were going back to school this fall, that textbook problem might not be so bad thanks to Kno, the startup that’s working on digitizing textbooks for the web, Facebook, and best of all, the iPad.
Kno originally started out by making a massive tablet to challenge the iPad, and the coming Android tablets. It was a dual 14 inch screened beast.
The Kno tablet didn’t sell very well, and Kno decided to spin off that part of the business so it could focus on software.
Smart move from Kno.
It wasn’t going to be able to compete with Apple, so it might as well try its best to compete on Apple’s platform with other software companies.
The company’s VP of marketing Ousama Haffar visited us last week to show off what Kno’s been working on, and we have to say we’re very impressed. The textbooks looked good. A student could easily highlight notes, take interactive quizzes, and write notes in a journal, all in the book.
Kno says it has 100,000 textbooks in its system and it sells books at a 30-50% discount from physical copies. It offers rentals — 180 days with the book — for 50% off the cover price.
Photo: Business Insider
The Kno app for the iPad was released in June, and even during summer school, it has already gotten 2 million students to use the app. It thinks that number doubles during the school year when more college students arrive on campus with new iPad 2s. (Haffar expects about 2 books downloaded per student.)Kno has $89 million in funding, with a lot of that coming from Andreessen Horowitz. How big can the company get? Haffar says the textbook market is a $16 billion market worldwide.
The trick for Kno, though, is working around Apple’s new rules for digital content. Haffar didn’t really want to talk about it, but Kno is struggling with the same issues all digital content apps are now that Apple wants all content sales in app. Still, if a student goes to the Kno website and buys a book, it will arrive at their iPad.
Apple might not be the only tablet that matters in the long run, though. Haffar said more tablets were coming this fall from rivals that were going to be exciting, but he was sworn to secrecy on those.
Regardless of how that shakes out, Kno has done a great job with its iPad app, and it has a chance to own the e-textbook space this fall.
And now we have yet another reason to get sad about the fact that we’re much too old to be back in college.