Children's digital developer Ruckus Media is joining with Scholastic to create the Scholastic Ruckus imprint, a joint venture that will publish a wide range of children's and teen content across all platforms, from interactive content and transmedia projects to e-books, enhanced e-books and print. The first titles from the Scholastic Ruckus imprint will be released in 2012.
Cofounded a year ago by former Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing president Rick Richter and Ruckus Media COO Jim Young, Ruckus Media has developed a list of interactive storybook apps and will publish about 40 digital titles this year. In a phone interview, Richter said that under the new imprint, Scholastic will oversee the marketing and distribution of print editions of Ruckus Media’s digital titles through Scholastic's network of school book clubs and book fairs, libraries and through trade book retailers. Scholastic will also manage the worldwide distribution and publishing rights for both print and digital content coming from the imprint.
Ellie Berger, president, Scholastic Trade Publishing, told PW, “Under the Ruckus imprint, we will expand the scope of our offerings to meet the rapidly growing demand for multi-platform properties that parents can trust and kids love.” Berger said that Scholastic has its own “robust digital program,” and that the house will continue to develop its own digital content. But she also said there is a “voracious appetite” in the kids'/teen marketplace for “new content.” She said that Ruckus Media “has good relations with authors and artists and we need additional content.”
Richter said the titles being developed and distributed are under contract to Ruckus Media, but emphasized that Scholastic and Ruckus “complement each other,” and that the new imprint will develop “digital and print concurrently.” According to Richter, “A lot of digital content is developed after the fact, but we will have much more digital-first content and we can use Scholastic to make sure we get maximum exposure and distribution for our titles.”
The venture is also looking to create “transmedia” properties, the practice of creating new and distinctive versions of a property for different media including film and print, gaming and online and interactive formats. While Berger said it was unlikely that they would be marketed as transmedia, she said works offered across multiple platforms “will be developed with creativity to a high standard in all the formats.”
Richter also said that Ruckus Media is “aggressively acquiring rights to out-of-print backlist titles to publish in print or in e-book formats to be distributed by Scholastic under the Ruckus imprint.” He said Ruckus is “taking on the Open Road Integrated Media model,” referring to Jane Friedman’s company, which acquires rights to selected backlist titles and adds a wide range of digital media from video to author interviews as well as utilizing digital and social media marketing capabilities. “We’re taking on IP that has potential in digital formats and bringing out-of-print backlist titles to life,” Richter said, adding that the co-venture with Scholastic “allows us to offer one-stop shopping to authors and agents.”
Richter emphasized that Ruckus Media remains an independent company. The digital house has about 30 fulltime and contract employees and has offices in Connecticut and New York City. He described the Ruckus Media program as being “story-based. We’re focused on developing interactive story books rather than the trend toward gaming elements we’re seeing in some parts of the marketplace.” He joked that “we’re all trying to figure out how this car works while we’re driving it.”