Kno, a Santa Clara Calif. based startup that originally got into digital textbooks during the eReader Bubble, has just announced Kno Advance. This new digital publishing platform is designed to make it easy for a textbook publisher to create and publish a new enhanced digital textbook from nothing more than a PDF of the print edition, and then update the digital textbook on the fly.
Or at least that's what the press release says. I'm going to take some of the news with a grain of salt:
The Advance platform consists of Kno Ingest, the Kno Book Enhancer, and Kno Assessment. With Kno Ingest, publishers can submit a flat file and Kno will transform it into an interactive eBook with dozens of features in minutes. This seamless on-boarding process brings content and meta-content to life and can bring hundreds of thousands of titles to market within days.
That strikes me as being implausible; the automation might make it simpler but there's more work involved than that. Just proofing the newlt produced digital textbook could take a full person-week or more.
But the other parts of Kno Advance sound more plausible and useful. There's also Kno Assessment, which is intended to enable publishers to quickly and easily take the existing end of chapter exercises and assignments found in the original PDF and make them interactive. The problems will then be integrated into the rest of the Kno platform with the grades and assessments made available to students to see in their Kno Me dashboards.
But that's not all. The final component of Kno Advance, the Kno Book Enhancer, is supposed to assist authors and publishers in pushing out updates to their previously published textbooks, and that includes new interactive elements.
The Kno Book Enhancer is said to offer simple tools that will enable publishers to add videos, audio, simulations, and 3D objects to an existing textbook title.This will enable the publisher to update the title with the latest news or new research on a given topic and send that info to all the existing copies that are in use by students. According to Kno updating long-tail titles with interactive content and assessments will no longer be cost prohibitive.
That sounds cool, right? I think so, but I'm not sure how much it will be used. Textbook publishers are currently mired in their self-created problem of updating the print edition every few years; I'm not sure how many are ready for the conceptual leap of maintaining a single digital edition.
Heck, I'm not even sure whether a digital textbook launched on any of the existing textbook platforms will still be in use 3 years down the line, much less whether publishers will update the title.
You can find out more on the Kno website.