Kno Launches K-12 Digital Textbook Rental Service

Kno Textbook Rental

Santa Clara-based start-up Kno has partnered with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to offer digital textbook rentals to K-12 students.

Kno originally began with an effort to develop a tablet that was tailor-made for students, but with the rise of Apple’s iPad and iBooks 2, the company’s hardware efforts didn’t work out, reports Tech Crunch.

Beginning in 2011, Kno changed their focus from hardware to software, creating an educational software platform and application, in order to bring interactive textbooks to college students. Now they are taking an even bigger step with the partnership with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, who currently publishes about 50 percent of the K-12 textbook market. Their next partnerships in their digital textbook rental platform will be Pearson and McGraw Hill, backed by $80 million in investments.

CNet notes that Know CEO Osman Rashid believes parents will be willing to pay a small fee for a digital textbook rental, instead of making their kids cart around bags filled with massive textbooks. Rashid stated:

“Even if the schools have not adopted digital textbooks, we wanted to give parents the option to have their kids’ same textbooks available at home. With digital books priced at $9.99 or below, parents can now finally stop their kids from carrying their heavy backpacks to and from school for less than $60 for the school year by supplementing classroom materials with interactive textbooks that can be used at home and on the go.”

Kno’s platform is already being used by students in 5,500 universities, and they state that the free application has been downloaded more than 500,000 times. The new partnership with Houghton Mifflin will allow the company to start offering the publisher’s textbooks in digital format on the iPad and on the Web. They will soon include Android and Windows 7 as well in their textbook rental platform.