Kno Makes A Go At Tablet Textbook

Didn’t Amazon try this with its Kindle DX? And fail?

Undaunted, Kno is pushing ahead with its 14.1 inch tablet textbook reader, pricing the device at $599 for a single-screen model and $899 for a dual-screen model and announcing it will take “a limited number of pre-orders for an initial shipment that is expected to be on customers’ doorsteps by the end of the year.”

Kno textbook ereader

image via Kno

Amazon aimed its DX ebook reader at the textbook market  last year, testing it at colleges around the country, and it was generally poorly received. Students had a range of complaints, but were particularly frustrated by an inability to easily leaf through the book and take notes. But Kno might overcome that problem with its larger LED-backlit screen — the E Ink DX measures just 9.7 inches, same as the iPad — that’s touch-controlled and comes with a stylus that allows students to write notes directly within the pages of the book.

The company has been beta-testing the device with students and, not too surprisingly, reports good results. It quotes Melissa Lin, a UC Berkelely sophomore, saying, “My experience with Kno has been really incredible. My books have become more interactive and the ability to hand-write electronic notes on the book pages themselves has changed how I retain information.”

In the world of high-priced textbooks, however, the major selling point for the device remains price. Kno says it will sell digital texts at 30-50 percent less than the hard-copy versions, and that the device will pay for itself within three semesters.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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