When Pluto lost its standing as a planet, some teachers had to wait years for print textbooks that accurately described its new status. But in a digital world, says Osman Rashid, CEO and co-founder of Kno, that kind of lag time should be obsolete.
“You should be able to update content in the digital world on the fly,” he said. “In digital, the idea of a new textbook edition doesn’t exist any more.”
Since launching in 2009, the digital textbook startup has worked with about 80 publishers to bring more than 200,000 higher education and K-12 titles to all kinds of mobile and connected devices. On Tuesday, it unveiled Advance, a new free platform that lets publishers and authors turn static files or PDFs into an interactive book “in minutes.”
If schools are going to embrace digital content, Rashid says, they need to know that they can find all of the titles they need in digital form, not just a handful of them. With Advance, the company, which competes with giants like Amazon (a AMZN) and Apple and startups like Inkling and Benchprep, hopes it’s found a way to get more content onto its platform. The platform itself is free, but Kno takes a cut of each book purchased.
To use the platform, publishers submit flat files to Kno, which the company says it can turn into an interactive format in minutes. From there, publishers can update content and add video, audio or other interactive components whenever they want. Publishers can also add end of chapter questions or other assessments, which can be captured and analyzed in Kno Me, the analytics dashboard launched last month.
While Apple’s iBooks similarly lets authors create interactive ebooks, the final product can only be accessed on iOS devices. Publishers on Advance can use the platform to create content for iOS, Android, Windows 7 and 8 and the browser.
Kno, which has raised about $69 million from top Silicon Valley VCs like Andreeseen Horowitz and SV Angel, said some of the publishers using the new platform include McGraw-Hill Education and Wayside Publishing.