Kara Swisher

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Kno Prices Its Student Tablets at $599 and $899 to Ship by End of the Year

Kno, the high-profile Silicon Valley start-up trying to jump-start a market for tablets focused on students, announced tonight that it will have a limited number available by the end of the year for sale at prices of $599 and $899.

The lower price is for its single-screen device, while the clamshell double-screen version is more expensive.

Kno would not say exactly how many it has ordered for its first tablet production run–the device is being built by China’s Foxconn–but co-founder and CEO Osman Rashid said in an interview earlier today with BoomTown that units would number “in the thousands.”

Rashid said the Kno tablet will initially be aimed at 10 college campuses across the U.S., although he also declined to name them.

“We are going to do online and offline marketing, in a very focused approach,” he said, noting that Kno would be working with some college bookstores too.

Marketing a new and complex product like the Kno will take a lot of effort and cash, especially since it is an increasingly competitive market for mobile and portable computing products that includes Apple, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Amazon, Dell and many others.

Kno recently raised another $46 million in funding to add to a $10 million round, and sources said that the Santa Clara, Calif., company could be back out raising even more early next year.

Its current backers include prominent venture players like Andreessen Horowitz and First Round Capital, along with investors Mike Maples and Ron Conway.

Kno’s Rashid said his company pushed the go button after getting good feedback from students in a beta test, half of whom used the single-screen device and the other half the two screens, along with its related education platform software.

“We found that 85 percent of those using the single screen wanted the dual-screen version and that those using two screens took three times more notes,” said Rashid. “Students said they love the fact that they can write in the textbook itself and it appears the way it needs to be, even in digital form.”

The first Kno will have an aluminum body, and the company will also offer a set of accessories, such as a cover and a stand.

And Kno will watch initial sales carefully. “As a start-up, we want to make sure we are meeting demand, but also that we roll it out in a careful approach,” said Rashid.

Indeed–and it will be interesting to see how that goes for the ambitious and innovative Kno.

Until the results are in, here is the official press release from Kno:

Kno Announces Pricing and Pre-Order Availability for Tablet Textbook; Pays for Itself in 3 Semesters

Delivers Significant Student Impact for Less than 1% the Cost of a 4-Year College Education

Santa Clara, CA–November 9, 2010–Kno, Inc., a powerful, groundbreaking tablet textbook designed specifically for students and the education market, today revealed the price of its 14.1 inch single and dual-screen tablets at $599 and $899, respectively. The company also announced that it is now accepting 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’s extraordinary benefits represent only a tiny fraction of the overall cost of college, but its impact on the student’s career–and the energy it adds to the experience, the thrill of learning, and the ultimate grade–is dramatic,” said Osman Rashid, Co-Founder and CEO of Kno, Inc. “Even better, when you do the math, it actually pays for itself and still saves $1,300 in digital textbook costs.”

Kno has been beta-testing the product with students and the response has been overwhelmingly positive for both the single and dual screen devices. Far more than just a digital textbook, Kno is creating a powerfully effective new learning environment that will make students at all levels more successful at processing, grasping and retaining both facts and concepts.

“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,” said Melissa Lin, a sophomore majoring in Biology at UC Berkeley that has been beta-testing the Kno tablet. “I see a ton of difference with the Kno. I can carry everything with me including my books, my notebooks and a browser for research. And, with the lower cost of digital textbooks, it will pay for itself in three semesters which is really great.”

Digital textbooks, which typically cost between 30 and 50 percent less than physical textbooks, will be priced separately and will be sold through the Kno bookstore, which will be accessible on every Kno device. Starting today, students will be able to browse Kno’s bookstore at www.kno.com/store/books, which will include tens of thousands of the most popular textbooks and supplement materials. Kno has previously announced that it is working with major textbook publishers including Cengage, McGraw Hill and Pearson. The company recently added publishers including Macmillan, Bedford, Freeman & Worth and Holtzbrinck as well as BarCharts Publishing, Kaplan, Random House and a large number of the University Presses.

“According to the not-for-profit College Board’s 2010 report, the average college student spends approximately $1,100 a year on book and supplies,” said Babur Habib, CTO and Co-Founder of Kno, Inc. “Kno can reduce that cost while bringing education into the 21st Century, providing students with a far superior learning experience than they have today.”

To learn more about Kno, please visit the Kno blog at http://blog.kno.com or visit us on Facebook www.facebook.com/GoodtoKNO, Twitter www.twitter.com/GoodtoKNO and YouTube www.youtube.com/GoodtoKNO.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald