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Inkling takes aim at Amazon

Inkling, the three-year-old start-up that transforms bulky textbooks into an interactive experience for the iPad and other tablet devices, launched on Tuesday an ambitious new publishing and search platform aimed for non-fiction content such as books on wine and cooking or ones that covers topics like pregnancy.

Inkling is taking on the big cheeses of distribution by making  content produced on the Inkling platform easier to search through Google. So the titles or chapters or just a page of a relevant book will pop up when someone is seeking a specific topic.

“The problem is people don’t start to search on Amazon,” said Matt MacInnis, founder and CEO of Inkling.  “They start on Google and end up on Amazon.”

It also introduced a new open publishing platform that lets multiple people work on one project giving authors a tool to create books expressly for an interactive environment. Anyone can use the platform called “Habitat” to create material. Inkling gets roughly a 30 percent cut of sales or a publisher can license the platform.

Pearson (which is an investor in Inkling), HarperCollins, McGraw-Hill and Wolters-Kluwer are just some of the publishers who are using Inkling’s Habitat.

Inkling launches digital textbooks 2.0 for iPads

Apple dominates the tablet market — its iOS tablet software accounted for more than 60 percent of the tablet market in the second quarter, while Google’s Android made up about 30 percent, according to Strategy Analytics. So it’s no surprise that more than 40 educational institutions  in the United States either require or recommend in-coming freshman or first-years come equipped with an iPad.

For example, that list includes  the medical schools at Brown, UC Irvine, Cornell and UCF; undergrads at Boston University, Abilene Christian University and Georgia Perimeter College; business students at Hult Business School, Lamar Business School and Seton Hill. Even prep schools are in on the act including South Kent, Princeton Day School and Madison Academy.

Certainly it’s appealing to slip an iPad into a backpack rather than massive tomes that students need to lug around campus.