Kno Plans to Launch a Tablet-Based Digital Textbook

Kno has raised $55M in their bid to make the market for digital textbooks with their eponymous e-textbook product the Kno. An article posted at GigaOM says,

This is Kno founder Osman Rashid’s second crack at revolutionizing the textbook market: he is also the founder and former CEO of Chegg, a startup that rents access to university textbooks. Kno is a much more ambitious project, however, since it involves launching a new hardware device and a software platform at the same time. The Kno — which runs a version of Linux and uses the Chrome browser as its interface — is designed to replicate the printed textbook, but also allows users to write notes on the screen and search through the text.

You could get in on a Kno right now, in fact, as the company is currently running a beta trial right now with several textbook publishers, such as McGraw-Hill and Wiley.

The product looks a little bit bulky in that it attempts to mimic the open-leaf design of a book with twin, hinged panes. The touch screens and the additional ability to take notes and search text will certainly put it head-and-shoulders above ordinary e-book devices, but it may come down to a question of cost.

Kno already has competitors rushing to the market, like Inkling who expect to use the technology of the iPad for their offering. In addition to the usual e-book offering, Inkling hopes to add interactivity to digital textbooks, “including 3-D spinning molecules that can be rotated in any direction.”

Predictions are that the Kno will end up costing near, but less-than, $1,000. This may put a massive crimp in their sales plans as those sort of costs will prove to be prohibitive; especially in light of much less expensive iPad alternatives. Also, noting that the price point for e-book readers like the Kindle is around $140, a costly replacement for textbooks may not be in sight for cash strapped families and schools.

About Kyt Dotson

Technology and civilization walk hand in hand and civilization is nothing without the skin of society, brushing up against itself, speaking strange nothings across dimly lit avenues and computer screens. If we're going to understand ourselves in this digital era, it will be through watching the adoption of technology by people to express themselves as people. I am an anthropologist and an author of science fiction and fantasy--and with my technology, I hope to open up new and exciting worlds that will not just enlighten the humanity of my friends and fans but also educate and enhance the expression of their own personhood. Find more of my work on Google+; send tips to @kytsune.