Targeting a children's niche in the growing audiobook market, Triangle Interactive, a licensing and distribution entity of Book Buddy Media, has released an initial list of 1,000 English and Spanish-language read-along children's e-books from a variety of publishers.

Brett Hodus, president and cofounder of Book Buddy Media and Triangle Interactive, said Triangle Interactive was launched to support the production and distribution of read-along audio e-books for kids. Read-along e-books feature animated text enhanced with synchronized audio that allows the reader to see the words visually highlighted in the text narrative and hear the words as they are pronounced vocally.

“The immediate goal is to expose young people to great fiction and nonfiction—but to do so in a format that allows them to flourish independently, by incorporating simple digital support tools that enhance the reading experience,” Hodus said. More Triangle read-along e-titles will be released monthly beginning in the summer.

Hodus also pointed to the popularity of read-along e-books among English learners overseas. To reach that potential group of customers, the company is partnering with library vendor OverDrive to release 200 read-along e-books in the Chinese market.

Triangle Interactive offers publishers free conversion of their e-books into read-along titles using the ePub3 format which can support a variety of embedded interactive features including video and sound. Conversion to the ePub3 fromat, Hodus said, provides the publishers with a “ubiquitous file that can be opened on virtually any device.”

Triangle is a subsidiary of Book Buddy Media, a packager founded by Hodus in 2008 that specializes in book production, editorial services and workflow design, in addition to offering digital/audio conversion and access to a team of audio engineers and voice actors.

Although Hodus said the rights to the initial group of the 1,000 read-along e-books are generally owned by one publisher, Triangle is designed to support publishers whose e-books rights are split between the house (text) and an audiobook licensee, such as Recorded Books or other audio vendors. Triangle, Hodus said, will “stitch the rights together,” to allow the production of the read-along e-books as well as to support mass distribution to the trade, library and educational markets.

Triangle Interactive, Hodus said, brings the text and audio rights together, provides free conversion to ePub3, and shares the revenue from sales with each of the rights holders. Hodus said while read-alongs are in demand from educators and librarians, most retailers don't always offer them as a separate category. Triangle has partnered with OverDrive to publicize the read-along category.

Among the rights holders whose books are part of the existing read-along e-books are August House, Charlesbridge, Sleeping Bear PRress, Rourke Educational Media, North Star Editions, and Full Tilt Press.

“Librarians and schools don’t want to deal with each individual publisher,” Hodus said. “We combine the rights and can offer the read-along e-books through all the usual platforms—OverDrive, Apple, Google Play, Hoopla, Kobo,” and others.

Hodus said Triangle Interactive worked with educators on the read-along e-books to avoid “falling victim to the lure of adding distracting high-tech features.” He added: “We’re trying to offer a consistent definition of read-along e-books that is focused on reading.”