Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Aiming K-12 Books at Parental Rental

Instead of trying to persuade K-12 schools or district boards to adopt digital textbooks on a widespread scale, Kno is embarking on a different strategy: marketing e-textbooks to parents one at a time.

The software company just signed up to license textbook content from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to create digital versions of its K-12 books, which Kno will rent to Mom and Dad at $9.99 per year per title, or as Kno CEO Osman Rashid put it, “for the price of a couple of Happy Meals.”

HMH has an estimated 50% of the K-12 textbook market, which means there’s an awful lot of kids out there with at least one HMH title in their backpacks. As Publishers Weekly explained, the digital texts will reproduce the pages of the printed texts, so Junior doesn’t get confused in doing homework. But the e-books will also sport helpful extras, such as 3-D animated demonstrations, flash cards, highlighting, and a digital journal for note-taking.

TechCrunch pointed out the pricing doesn’t exactly add up to a pot of gold for Kno, although for the publisher it’s bonus money on top of the print sales. However, Rashid is banking on the low price to attract more parents to try out the digital books at home. Once they do, he hopes they’ll push for adoption at their children’s schools.

If more youngsters get accustomed to digital books while still in K-12, in a few years that could ratchet up demand for the college-level digital books that Kno already provides through partnerships with higher-education publishers.

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