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.