The E-book Opportunity
The Kno is an example of analog behavior fused with digital content and technology, says Osman Rashid, co-founder and CEO of Kno. "We started by saying e-textbooks have been around for 10 years; why have they failed?" says Rashid. The problem, he says, has to do with having to pan up and down or side to side on a small, far-away screen. "You can only see a portion of the content. It's just not conducive to a learning experience," he says.
The Kno device offers split-screen functionality (users can read questions on one screen while checking answers within the text on another) and allows students to write notes and collaborate. Despite a device-focused approach, Rashid says the company's long-term vision is to differentiate itself on the software side, offering "an education ecosystem that could run on any device out there."
The iPad is good for all digital book purveyors, Rashid believes, because it accelerates the market's development. "It makes publishers get their content available much faster, it helps the supply chain deliver products faster, it helps the consumer say, 'Yeah, I've heard about that. I'm comfortable using that.' It helps us in every way," he says.
Rashid's potential publisher clients seem to agree.
"The e-book market is the hottest area in publishing, and the introduction of the iPad has accelerated its course," notes Ray Colon, director of eProduct management at Springer Science+Business Media. "Newspaper publications, trade publishers and several STM publishers are now prioritizing the development of reader apps and formatting their content and portals for mobile."
Springer is preparing for a multiplatform future in an area of e-book publishing long dominated by the desktop browser. "Springer content is working content," says Robert Boissy, director of network sales at Springer, "and so will benefit from ongoing developments with devices that foster good image rendering, annotations and other interactive features."