Kindle is chasing CourseSmart, the leader in e-textbooks

Amazon's (AMZN) unveiling of the Kindle DX, designed in part for digital textbooks, is probably the first exposure many people have had to this revolution in publishing, but Amazon is not first to the table with the idea. In fact, it faces strong competition from an established market presence, CourseSmart, which is already selling e-textbooks to students from 5,647 schools and counting.

CourseSmart was founded by five of the largest textbook publishers, including McGraw Hill (MHP) and Pearson (PSO), to market electronic versions of its school texts at roughly half the price of paper ones. Using a downloadable proprietary file format or a web-based option, students can read the books on their PCs, integrating the text with their notes by cutting and pasting.