In less than one year, the TouchyBooks children’s bookstore app has turned into a giant in the digital children’s publishing world, racking up over 700,000 downloads (allowing the app to remain among the highest ranked book apps in the AppStore) for a catalogue of 70 titles, composed of both new and classic stories. Why such a quick rise? For Anna Abraham, marketing and communications manager at TouchyBooks, they just entered the right market at the right time.
“The market clearly proposed exponential growth and shortly after our product launched TouchyBooks became a solution for parents who were looking for a competitive digital library for their little ones,” Abraham said. “And also, it was a solution for publishers, content owners and brands wanting to be part of the digital innovation that’s happening around the globe.”
TouchyBooks’ success can be attributed to its breadth of vision. They’ve worked with publishers such as TOP THAT! as well as freelance illustrators and writers, but the majority of their catalogue is composed of original creations and properties from the public domain.
The company has a board of editors that approves the stories, both original and provided by partners. Then, a team of child educators, graphic designers and digital experts make a “creative explosion,” forming storyboards. The specific treatment that each title receives continues in the implementation of digital features. TouchyBooks takes digital storybook standard features like background music, sound effects and touch animations a step further—in two titles, The Adventures of Alt and Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, a player’s decisions affect the story by adding logic to the animations.
When handling classic children’s titles, TouchyBooks applies the same practical policies—deciding to shorten the text of The Three Little Pigs to combat the increased number of distractions children have available to them these days.
The current top five sellers in the catalogue are Snow White, Fairy Secrets, Cinderella, Leonardo da Vinci: Dream Inventor, and I Want to Be a Pirate. “We do extensive studies on children’s titles and we can see a marked tendency in the market for classics,” Abraham said. “The audience knows what to expect with these stories and we enjoy reinventing them with a TouchyBooks experience. However, our second highest selling book right now is an original TouchyBooks creation, Fairy Secrets, which also says a lot about the market. If you know their interest, you can provide them with a competitive product.”
The bookstore has a number of plans in the works. Though Abraham says that the iPhone platform is their most active “by far,” TouchyBooks has just launched books onto the Android, Blackberry Playbook and Windows Phone platforms. Titles are also available for the iPad.
The TouchyBooks 2.0 update launches in late July, and includes an Italian language feature, a star voting system, and a ticker to indicate total times a book has been read.
They plan to have 200 titles by the end of the year, but before then, TouchyBooks will release “TouchyBooks Builder,” a feature that will allow publishers and illustrators to make their own interactive books, and publish them in all app stores.