Liz Gannes

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Textbook Makers Fund Inkling for Interactive iPad Editions

The iPad textbook creator Inkling has extended its Series A round to include leading educational publishers McGraw-Hill and Pearson, a coup that could help it get out ahead of other digital edition outfits. Previous investors Sequoia Capital, Felicis Ventures, Kapor Capital and Sherpalo Ventures also participated.

Inkling has not disclosed the amount of its “multi-million dollar” financing but suffice it to say it is sizeable; the San Francisco-based company already employs 40 people.

Inkling currently has 14 titles available, and plans to expand to 100 before the start of the school year this fall. Along with the investment, McGraw-Hill and Pearson have committed to iPad-ifying some of their top titles, including various undergraduate best-sellers, business and medical textbooks.

Inkling’s digital editions include features such as quizzes, interactive infographics, a scrolling and searchable interface, and purchase by chapter. Each title is digitized individually, but the company is working to scale its efforts by creating templates for interactive content and using offshore development.

“We have a very sophisticated set of software tools that help us gently disassemble a textbook and then reconstruct it from the ground up to make something that really makes sense on an iPad,” said Inkling Founder and CEO Matt MacInnis in an interview about the added money.

MacInnis, a former executive in Apple’s education division, added that his company strikes a balance between competitors like Kno (which will likely sell off the tablet part of its business), e-book sellers who essentially offer PDFs, and “super precious high-touch content” like that of the new start-up Push Pop Press, which is making an iPad version of Al Gore’s latest book.

Inkling expects to expand to Android and to release some of its creation tools to publishers later this year.

Image courtesy Inkling, from “Music: An Appreciation,” Kamien et al, McGraw-Hill Higher Education

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus