Inkling takes iPad textbooks mainstream with cookbook launch

Inkling, the company that makes interactive, digital versions of textbooks for the iPad, has thus far focused on making products aimed at college students. But the San Francisco-based startup is set to debut its first title that could appeal to people both in and out of the classroom.

Later this week Inkling will release The Professional Chef, the official textbook of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), the Hyde Park, New York-based chef’s school founded in 1946. The book, which is also known as “Pro Chef,” is the assigned culinary textbook for all students at CIA and a number of other culinary schools and has been called “the bible for all chefs” by famed French chef Paul Bocuse. Pro Chef has become a best-selling book for home chefs as well.

Pro Chef for Inkling screenshot (click to enlarge)

I’ve spent some time playing with Inkling’s version of Pro Chef, and it’s pretty great — it’s such an informative text that it could be intimidating, but the Inkling version makes it particularly accessible. I think it should have special appeal to the amateur market because Inkling’s format allows people to ease into the book piecemeal, rather than commit to the whole thing (the hardcover version of Pro Chef is a behemoth, with a list price of $75 and clocking in at 1232 pages.)

On Inkling, people can buy individual chapters of the book for $2.99 (there are 36 chapters in all) or the entire text for $49.99. Pro Chef on Inkling also has extra multimedia content including 100+ high-definition video tutorials of such techniques as how to slice cabbage or debone a lamb leg, which is really helpful if you aren’t actually attending a culinary school in real life.

In all, it’s a smart move for Inkling. The college textbook market is, of course, massive — worth some $5 billion in revenues annually — but it’s always good for a company to have a bit of variety in its user base. Inkling CEO Matt MacInnis tells me that Inkling’s bread and butter will continue to be bringing interactive versions of college textbooks to the iPad, but that this is the first of a series of new titles that the company expects will bridge the gap between academia and the real world. With higher education booming and tablets becoming more popular by the day, Inkling could have lots of growth ahead.

Here’s a video of Pro Chef on the Inkling in action:

Cook Like the Pros – The Professional Chef from Inkling on Vimeo.