Digital textbooks have lagged behind the booming sales of electronic books, and many publishers and companies are attempting to make them more appealing, primarily by better utilizing the benefits of the digital format. One such company, Inkling, is working with publishers to rethink the electronic textbooks, and it is initially introducing four McGraw-Hill interactive college textbooks designed for the iPad.
The Inkling-based books make good use of the iPad and provide features that many students expect from digital but thus far have not quite received. Figures and diagrams can be freely rotated and resized, embedded videos and case studies are included in most chapters, keywords can be tapped to display their definition, and there are interactive quizzes for each section. One of the most interesting features that Inkling provides is its note sharing functionality, whereby students can take notes and then share them with peers and instructors in real-time in order to ask questions or share ideas. Publishers and companies like Inkling are beginning to take advantage of the digital format and add value to digital textbooks, which will likely have a large impact on student adoption and sales over the next several years.
“In 2009, digital textbooks generated about $40 million in sales, estimates Rob Reynolds, director of product design and research for Xplana, a social learning company owned by MBS Service Co. But he expects that to double to $80 million this year, or roughly 1% of the total higher education textbook market. By 2015 the market will exceed $2 billion in sales, or more than 20% of the total market, he says.”
For more information on Inkling, a recent Wall Street Journal article discusses the company and digital textbooks. Inkling also has many interesting videos on their site.