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Industry Software
Founded August 2009
Headquarters San Francisco, CA
Key people Matt MacInnis, CEO
Products Software as a Service and consumer E-books

Inkling is an American company based in San Francisco, California. It produces an enterprise publishing platform, called Inkling Habitat, and sells interactive e-books and other digital content to consumers through its website and apps.


Matt MacInnis, Josh Forman, and Robert Cromwell founded Inkling in August 2009. While working at Apple Inc., MacInnis heard rumors about a new device (which would later become the Apple iPad). Believing the device had potential to host interactive electronic textbooks, he left Apple to found the new company several months before the iPad was officially announced.[1] MacInnis became the CEO, with Forman as the VP, Product and Cromwell as the VP, Engineering.[2] In August 2010, the company launched its iPad app and announced partnerships with Cengage Learning, John Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill, and Wolters Kluwer.[3]

The company initially focused on creating interactive e-book versions of existing textbooks. In 2011, it added other types of general-interest non-fiction titles, such as travel guides and cookbooks.[4] Inkling titles include features not normally available in conventional e-books such as video, interactive animations, and the ability to share notes with other readers. For this reason there may be three (or more) versions of the same book: a paper version from the original publisher, a conventional (mainly text) e-book from Amazon or another vendor, and a complex e-book from Inkling.[5]

The company creates e-books in HTML5. Using tools available at the time, Inkling finished only four textbooks during its first year of operation. In an interview published in 2013, MacInnis said, “There was no simple way to build consistent HTML5 content.”[2] Inkling changed strategies and began work on an e-book authoring platform (“Habitat”). Habitat was announced in February 2012[6] and released to the public in February 2013.[7] The company’s catalog of digital books contained about 150 titles in June 2012.[8] By December 2012, the library had grown to 400 books,[4] rising to 560 by July 2013.[2]

As of July 2013, the company had raised $48 million in venture capital funding and employed 110 people.[2][9]

Business Model[edit]

The company’s reading software (available on iOS devices, PCs, and Macintosh computers) is free.[5] The company released a beta-version app for Android devices in April 2014.[10] Inkling receives a 30 percent royalty on the sale of every e-book created using its technology.[5][7][11] Publishers set prices, which are typically higher than conventional e-books (but may be lower than books printed on paper). Users can purchase entire books or individual chapters within books.[5][12]

Inkling offers a basic version of Habitat for free and a premium version with additional capabilities and support services.[7] In July 2013, the company announced that Pearson Education and Reed Elsevier would use Habitat to create digital books and journals. Elsevier will also use the company’s technology to allow users to read e-books online.[5]

The company sells books through its online bookstore, publishers’ online stores, and the Apple App Store. In February 2013, the company announced that it would make it possible for its e-books to be searchable from sites such as Google. Users will then be able to purchase books from the search results page.[5]

In February 2013, Inkling announced a partnership with the 20 Million Minds Foundation to create 50 open textbooks for college students in the state of California. These books will be free to use for one year, and cost $4.99 thereafter.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bury, Erin (20 January 2012). "Digital Textbook Publishing Turns Into David vs. Goliath Battle". Betakit. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Wan, Tony (17 July 2013). "An Inkling of the Future of Books". edSurge. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  3. ^ Ingram, Mathew (23 August 2010). "Inkling Says the iPad is the Textbook of the Future". Gigaom. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Graham, Jefferson (21 December 2012). "Inkling cooks up multimedia iPad books". USA Today. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Kucera, Danielle (17 February 2013). "Inkling gives e-books more visual punch". SFGate. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  6. ^ Elmer-DeWitt, Philip (14 February 2012). "Taking on Apple with industrial-strength e-textbooks". CNN Money. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c Tibken, Shara (12 February 2013). "Inkling takes on Amazon, Apple with new e-book publishing tool". CNET. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  8. ^ Nieva, Richard (29 June 2012). "How Inkling is banking on better books". CNN Money. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  9. ^ Reid, Calvin (16 July 2013). "Inkling Signs Deals with Pearson, Elsevier; Raises $16M in Funding". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  10. ^ King, Bertel (3 April 2014). "Inkling eBook Beta App Brings A Catalog Of Interactive Instructional Literature To Android". Android Police. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  11. ^ Hempel, Jessi (17 July 2013). "Inkling picks up powerful publishing partners". CNN Money. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  12. ^ Duffy, Jill (24 October 2011). "A New Frontier for Books". PC Magazine. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 

External links[edit]