The race to offer easy-to-use authoring tools for multimedia enhanced e-books continues after Kno, an educational software developer that creates multimedia content for the iPad, announced the release of Kno Advance, a new authoring tool that allows publishers to quickly turn a PDF into multimedia-enriched interactive content and much more. The software is designed to produce thousands of titles or make updates and claims to make adding new multimedia or text content quick and easy. Kno is offering the new software tool free of charge.

Typically, Kno partners with big educational publishers to convert their content into the Kno platform, complete with all manner of multimedia content from 3D animation and sound files to interactive quizzes, supplemental content and assessment feedback. The company has partnered with about 80 educational publishers and has released about 200,000 interactive textbooks aimed at higher education and K-12. Kno Advance offers publishers three ways to easily create multimedia content or simply update titles with new content, text or multimedia, at the click of an online button. Kno Advance is the latest in a growing number of multimedia authoring tools released over the last year to make creating multimedia content easier and cheaper to produce.

The Kno Advance platform includes Kno Ingest, which lets publishers submit a PDF of a title to Kno to be converted “in minutes” into a multimedia title with dozens of multimedia features. There’s also Kno Book Enhancer, which allows publishers to add multimedia or any new content to existing backlist or longtail titles, and instantly update the content across all distribution platforms, “on the fly,” according to Kno CEO Osman Rashid in a phone interview with PW. And there’s Kno Assessment, which allows publishers to add interactive chapter exercises, quizzes and assignments to static content throughout a title and give students and the publisher valuable feedback on text usage.

Most important, Kno Advance is said to be designed to produce at scale and publishers can use it convert thousands of longtail backlist, noninteractive titles into new multimedia-enriched content. Kno Advance is also being offered free of charge—there’s no upfront fee or commission on sales—and Rashid told PW the software is being offered free in order to grow the market for multimedia enhanced content. “It will allow publishers to get more titles digitized. The reward for us will come downstream when more teachers and schools choose to adopt Kno content. It will help grow the market and drive more people to the Kno platform,” Rashid said.

Rashid said Kno Advance can convert a single title into a multimedia title in about 12 minutes and claimed it could convert as many as 1,000 titles into an enhanced e-book in “a few days.” Kurt Stand, chief product officer at McGraw-Hill Higher Education and a Kno publishing partner, called working with Kno Advance, “seamless,” and said, “we are able to enhance or update our e-books virtually instantly.” Greg Greul, president of Wayside Publishing, praised Kno’s Book Enhancer for its “ease of use, speed, and lack of additional cost,” and said, the software “gives us better digital tools and capabilities than many large publishing houses.”

Rashid called the release of Kno Advance, “a natural evolution” of the company’s program and emphasized that the book publishing industry is transitioning into a sector that operates more like a software company. “Advance is ushering in a new paradigm in which mainstream titles will be revised and enhanced frequently - more like software,” he said. “As things go digital, the notion of new editions will go away,” Rashid predicted, “a publisher can add video and assessment content at scale, make the change in 30 seconds and it’s just a software update.”