Inkling app tackles the textbook market with $17 million in funding

Back-to-school shopping is in full swing, and if you’re heading to college in the next few weeks, textbooks should be nearing the top of your mind. If you’re hitting the campus bookstore for the first time, you’ll probably have some sticker shock (those suckers are pricey), or you might be faced with empty shelves if you procrastinate. iPad app Inkling could be your savior. The app offers users the ability to purchase interactive textbooks by the chapter, potentially saving you some cash, and definitely saving your backpack extra weight.

Inkling’s library contains100 titles, either available now or coming soon, and although pickings are still relatively slim, investors have taken note — Inkling recently announced $17 million worth of funding led by Tenaya Capital, with support from Jafco Ventures, Pearson Education and Sequoia Capital.

You’ll need to create a free account with Inkling to download from its library, but I love that books are available as complete copies or as individual chapters. Few things are more annoying than a professor requiring a textbook only to use a chapter or two. Each title also offers a free sample chapter so you can see exactly what types of features are available. The downloads themselves aren’t cheap and on par with traditional textbook pricing ($70 and up for full books, and several dollars per chapter), but Inkling doesn’t just providing digital copies of books, it adds interactive content to the pages, such as movies or music, where appropriate, or quizzes to help you retain the information you’ve just read.

Inkling’s interface is engaging and smart, using the iPad’s touch controls to enhance the learning experience rather than overwhelm it. The app comes with Inkling 101 installed. This Elements of Style primer also serves as Inkling’s instructions, teaching how to use all of the app’s features. You don’t need an account to access this text, so it’s an easy way to see if the app would work for your learning style. You can highlight passages or tap words to add your own sticky notes for future reference. Inkling also offers integrating sharing if you have a friend using the same text — ideal for a study partner setup.

College students should be excited for Inkling’s expanding library and should keep an eye on the service. The app almost makes me wish I was enrolled in some credit hours again. Almost.

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