From a ScrollMotion
Curious George e-book

ScrollMotion is already a well-known player in the e-books-for-iPhone field, and one of the biggest, having produced e-book versions of well-known titles from the major publishing houses. With the exception of a few children's titles, ScrollMotion has mostly focused on adult books—until now.

The Manhattan-based company is about to launch 30 new titles in a new format, Iceberg Reader Kids, which takes kids' books on the iPhone further than anyone else has so far. According to Josh Koppel, Scroll Motion's co-founder and chief creative force, “This is a fully interactive way of engaging a book filled with activities like image exploration, DIY audio book recording, and a whole new set of interactive controls for moving through a book that are built with fun in mind.”

The Iceberg Reader Kids platform responds to the growing trend—especially prevalent in kids' e-books—toward e-books that have enhancements: animations, audio content, interactivity. Picture books in the Iceberg Kids format are more than books—they're activities. The app has a sleek and entertaining aesthetic and navigational system (though all e-books will be sold as separate apps for the moment, they all share the same design and navigation system), featuring five buttons—”Read,” “Bookmark,” “Index,” “Record,” Settings,” “Help”—that make musical sounds when tapped.

To accommodate full-page illustrations in the iPhone's small format, the application automatically pans around the illustration while the child or parent advances through the text on that page. By pinching the screen, one can move around the entire illustration at will. The text can be made larger or smaller, and automatically moves to accommodate the art.

Plus, ScrollMotion has endeavored to create unique experiences with illustrations, panning around complex drawings and spreads in ways that almost mimic annimation. For instance, to deal with a Curious George book that originally contained a series of Georges drawn in a spiral across a spread to represent how George gets covered with sticky napkins, the ScrollMotion version treats each George like a film still or a comic book panel, seemingly swinging the camera around the spiral, moving into the center one George at a time. The books can also include audio; other books will feature songs and music. Early titles will include the Mr. Men series and several Random House books.

Perhaps most notable is the recordable audio feature. Parents can record themselves reading the book using a simple tool that guides them through the text page by page. Other companies, like the soon-to-launch Ripple, are working on similar features, but no one is doing this on the iPhone or combining it with all of Iceberg Reader Kids' other capabilities. With recordable audio—which Koppel says will eventually be sharable, so a grandparent, for instance, could send a grandchild a recording—Koppel hopes to turn e-books into heirlooms, heading off one of the primary criticisms people have with digital publishing. Koppel takes this feature personally: “For me, my grandfather was the greatest storyteller I ever knew. And I still remember every inflection and nuance in his voice, but it has been many, many years. This product gives us the opportunity for those moments to be saved, and shared, and cherished, not only for the recipients of the story, but for future generations.”

Some of these features were already in place with ScrollMotion's versions of Curious George's Dictionary and James Patterson's Daniel X, but the new Iceberg Reader offers the same platform for all children's books. As with its other books, ScrollMotion will work with publishers on pricing, rather than assign a price point for all books. Koppel said most Iceberg Reader Kids books will cost between $4-$15. And while ScrollMotion has focused exclusively on the iPhone so far, Koppel said that in the near future its children's titles will be available on other platforms. E-books in the Iceberg Reader Kids format will be debuting in Apple's App store in the near future (Apple does not reveal firm release dates).