Kno and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Want to Lighten Book Bags

Interactive textbook and educational software company Kno has announced an agreement with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, calling the pact a step toward the “consumerization of the textbook market.” Kno will digitize HMH titles and bring its signature level of interactivity and multimedia to students interested in shrugging off the weight of physical textbooks.

Rather than targeting schools with their digital textbook partnership, Kno and HMH are instead marketing these new products to parents and children, offering a yearlong rental for each e-book for $9.99. They’re  available now for iPad and web  onKno’s website. Android and Windows versions will launch in the fall. Kno also seems perfectly poised to capitalize on the tablet-optimized Windows 8, which will be released on October 26.

The new e-books will take advantage of Kno’s specialty of including multimedia and interactive functionality. Science books feature 3D molecular models and interactive quizzes with pinch-and-zoom functionality. Readers can use the highlighter utility to mark key passages, take down notes while reading and also use the handy flashcard mode to study key terms.

The books also feature social elements, with the ability to share content with classmates from within the app. Kno has a unique partnership with the popular cloud-based storage service Dropbox, allowing readers to import PDFs and other class materials directly into Kno’s Course Manager utility. The reader can then use the highlighters and note features to interact with the PDF as if it was a standard Kno e-book.

Are we approaching the day when students stop carrying around backpacks that weigh almost as much as they do? By moving to e-books, a student can theoretically have all of their classwork on a single tablet. “For the price of a couple of Happy Meals, you can buy a digital textbook and stop your child from having to carry around a six-pound book,” Kno cofounder and CEO Osman Rashid said.