Last week we looked at how some adult trade houses view the potential market for apps, finding that most publishers are cautiously moving into this area. While adult and children’s divisions face many of the same questions about apps—costs, sales potential, and whether they should drive profits or market books—children’s content is generally more suited to this space. Still, like their adult counterparts, children’s publishers are developing apps slowly. PW contacted a number of children’s divisions and houses and found that many publishers are experimenting with different formats—some are creating heavily educational material (which occasionally doesn’t even link to a specific title), others are investing in games, and still others are looking for more direct ways of adapting existing fiction into an app.
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Bloomsbury is creating its first app this season, based on Carrie Jones’s YA paranormal romance series Need. A spokesperson for the house said the planned release date for the app is December, to coincide with the publication of the third book in the series, Entice. The app, which will be free, will allow kids to send a “kiss” to their friends that could be from one of the three central characters—Zara, Nick, or Astley. (The novels, which feature pixies, focus on a love triangle among the three characters, and a pixie kiss can be either a good thing or a bad thing.) The app will also bring users deeper into the world of the books, with links to a Web page featuring each character and a route to Bloomsbury’s Needpixies Facebook fan page.
Disney Publishing Worldwide
Disney has a significant commitment to monetizing some of its big brands with apps. The publisher’s first app, which is free, is based on Toy Story and is what it calls a “premium storybook.” Apps based on installments two and three in the Toy Story saga are also available, priced at $3.99 and $8.99 respectively. The publisher has also created iPhone/iPod Touch apps called Mickey’s Spooky Night and Winnie the Pooh: What’s a Bear to Do?, each of which is 99 cents. Just launched is Disney Epic Digicomics, the first story is free, with five additional tales that can be purchased together for $2.99. Later this month, the house is also launching Disney Epic Mickey, set to coincide with the release of the video game of the same name.
HarperCollins Children’s Books
The children’s division of HarperCollins releases all of its apps through its e-imprint, Curious Puppy. The house currently has two apps on the market, ABC Song and 123 Ants Go Marching. Both apps have a heavy educational emphasis and neither is directly tied to a book. Each app costs 99 cents and is available for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Curious Puppy is also about to launch a third app, which HC estimates should be on the market in a few weeks, called Freight Train, based on Donald Crews’s picture book of the same name.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group
HMH developed a number of apps with ScrollMotion based on Curious George titles. The majority of them, said senior v-p of digital strategies, Cheryl Cramer-Toto, mimic the experience of the book itself. The one exception is the Curious George dictionary app which, although it does relate to a title of the same name, offers a number of interactive features. Among other things, kids can tap an object to hear what it is. Cramer-Toto said that the children’s division has six apps in development now—they’re based on book characters—that are scheduled to release in early December.
Penguin Young Readers Group
PYRG is set to release its second app (after doing a Mad Libs app earlier this year) in a few weeks—an interactive version of the children’s classic The Little Engine That Could (which is published by the house’s Grosset & Dunlap imprint). The app, which is not priced yet, will be available on both the iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch. Don Weisberg, president of the group, said the publisher is also working on “select marketing and game apps, based on upcoming picture books and novels.”