Inkling, the interactive digital publishing company, started out with textbooks on the iPad, then moved into consumer titles with its ProChef cookbook, and now has partnered with Frommer’s to publish iOS travel guides.
The first seven guides (for Japan, France, Spain, Great Britain, Costa Rica, California and Alaska) are available on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
Newspapers, magazines, books, radio, TV, and even web-based publishers have all suffered major setbacks in recent years, with massive layoffs in some sectors and stagnant growth, at best, in others.
Meanwhile, dozens of local startups are exploring creative ways to transform old media industries into data-driven mobile/social/local services that collectively represent the prospect of a much more diverse new media landscape in the years to come.
This post highlights eight of those disruptive companies, listed alphabetically, that we have been able to profile at 7x7.com during 2011. Half of them are focused in one way or another on challenging the traditional book publishing industry, as ebook sales continue to explode.
Inkling, which is the leader in reinventing textbooks as collaborative learning environments, has expanded its offerings well beyond the formal educational market by bringing consumer-friendly titles such as The Professional Chef, from The Culinary Institute of America, to the iPad.
Despite a price tag of $50, the Pro Chef app quickly shot up to the second-most downloaded app in the iTunes store during the week after its appearance and the top-selling lifestyle app.
It’s Get Back to School time, and Inkling, the leading company reinventing textbooks on the iPad, has just won Apple’s approval for its 2.0 app. CEO Matt MacInnis calls it “the single most complex iPad app out there," and he may well be right.
It combines a 3-D rendering engine, a complex reading engine, and a full social search engine all wrapped into one, which also syncs across the devices you use to access it.
From a developer’s perspective, that’s complex.
Fortunately, from a user’s perspective, Inkling is simple to use. You tap on this, pull out that, scroll down here, and dig deeper over there.
The most striking aspect of Inkling 2.0 is the interactive social layer it has integrated across its current inventory of 50 academic titles, which will grow to 100 titles by year’s end.
When it comes to a legacy technology that badly needs to be disrupted, it's hard to imagine a better example than the college textbook.
Students have to lug these anachronisms around in backpacks, only to read a chapter here and there as assigned by their professors. New editions appear every two or three years, rendering the older editions essentially worthless.
Second-hand bookstores do a thriving business on campuses as students try to stay within their budgets. Book-sharing, renting, and lending as well as illegal copying all occur as well.
A professor trying to teach from a core textbook in many subjects often finds it resembles the Winchester Mystery House, with chapters added on willy-nilly to a structure that originated many editions in the past, often decades ago.