Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Kno moves into K-12 market: Expansion or act of desperation?

AllThingsD reports that Kno, a college eTextbook rental company, has struck a deal with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to distribute its eTextbooks to the K-12 market. The titles will be rented for a one-year period for $9.99 or less, and will work on iPads and the web. Kno plans to release eReaders for Android and Microsoft Windows 7 (and presumably 8) later this year. The company is negotiating with McGraw-Hill and Pearson to distribute their K-12 eTextbooks.

The obvious hole in this strategy is that most K-12 schools directly supply textbooks to students (either at no cost or in exchange for a small activity fee,) so convincing parents to rent eTextbooks, and school districts to switch to renting eTextbooks instead of buying print, is going to take a lot of work. In addition, moving into the K-12 market indicates some desperation on Kno's part. It suggests that Kno isn't meeting its sales objectives, and needs to find new sources of revenue.

Update, August 8, 2012: Kno has launched its K-12 eTextbook rental program on its website. The biggest reason why parents should rent eTextbooks when they get them for free from their school is...wait for it...print textbooks are too heavy! Why, did you know that carrying a 12-pound backpack during a school year puts a cumulative load of over 20,000 pounds on your child's body--the equivalent of six mid-sized cars? And, given the epidemic of obese children and Type 2 diabetes starting in childhood, along with cutbacks in physical education programs, there's absolutely no reason for children to get exercise. Let's protect their delicate backs.

Print textbooks are too heavy? Seriously? 
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