JibJab Media, which made its first splash on the digital landscape with animated political satires, including the 2004 video spoofing George W. Bush and John Kerry, has launched a reading iPad app for kids, called JibJab Jr. Books.
The app is an extension of the company’s popular Starring You line of videos and ecards that allows consumers to insert their personal photographs as the faces of various characters. In the Jr. Books app, purchasers can insert a child’s photo by uploading an image from a computer, or from a Facebook account. Co-founders and brothers Evan and Gregg Spiridellis came up with the "initial inception," but Evan notes that the entire JibJab team had some hand in creating the app. “My brother and I both have young kids and we read books to them on the iPad,” says Evan. "We’ve both seen things we’ve disliked, and things we thought maybe we could do differently and better. We wanted to create something that we would like to use."
The resulting app, available in the iTunes store, launched September 1 and currently offers six titles, including a free book called The Biggest Pizza Ever. Consumers may purchase titles a la carte at $7.99 apiece, or they can sign up for a monthly plan at $3.99 per month (which auto-renews each month until canceled). Subscribers automatically receive one title per month and can additionally purchase a la carte titles for $3.99 each. Two seasonal selections, Snow Much Fun and Saving Christmas, will be available December 1, and a princess title will arrive December 15, bringing the total number of titles to nine by the end of the year.
As of December, all JibJab Jr. Books (including those previously released) will contain sound, a feature that was not part of the original design. Customer demand persuaded JibJab to provide this particular enhancement. "We made a creative decision not to include sound initially," says Evan, "because we didn’t want anything to be a distraction from the reading experience. We made the wrong call, but we consider it a well-intentioned mistake."
Response to the app has been overwhelmingly positive, Evan Spiridellis notes: "so far," he says, "people have loved it." A few technical glitches caused by the update to Apple’s new iOS 5 operating system have been fixed for the updated version of the app released on November 2. "We are so excited and passionate about this," Evan adds, “and it’s great to create something we can share with our kids."