Getting into the app space can be a daunting prospect for publishers, but a wide range of developers have sprung up to help houses steer through what is still an uncertain new frontier for book interactivity.

What you’ll find below is a survey of 14 app developers, all with different specialties and different strengths.

The book-related apps market is still largely dominated by children’s content, and that’s reflected in the focus of our respondents: 12 of the 14 developers specifically mentioned children’s as a specialty. But indicating the growing market, a number of developers stated they’re looking to expand beyond children’s content. Many developers indicated a wide range of areas in which they’ve already developed apps and were more likely to point to the experience their apps provide, rather than restricting their answer to which specific demographic might enjoy that experience. As Calvin Wang, founder and president of Loud Crow, put it, his company is “not bound by a specific genre as much as we are looking for opportunities that align with our technology and design philosophies.”

This willingness on the part of developers to work in a variety of areas and genres signifies the excitement and potential in book-related apps; it indicates that developers are eager to work with publishers with great ideas, to form partnerships and to see what can be done in a growing and still largely untapped market. If anything, the uncertainty surrounding what apps can do and what role they will play is a positive, and the varied backgrounds and sensibilities of the developers listed below ensures that no matter the publishing venture, there’s an app developer for that.

Aimer Media

Location: Brighton, U.K.

Contact: Adrian Driscoll,

Area of Specialty: “We don’t specialize in any particular branch of publishing, but the types of publishing we are known for are reference, education, and general nonfiction apps across a range of general, children’s and specialist publishers.”

# of Apps: 24

Has Worked With: HarperCollins, Osprey Publishing, Berlitz Publishing/Insight Travel

Notable App: “UNESCO World Heritage is a guide to all the sites in the list of World Heritage sites compiled by UNESCO. It is the official guide published by HarperCollins for UNESCO. It took a while to become established, as there are a number of unofficial apps out there, but we have seen growth over time. The recent update with the 2011 sites included came out for the 40th anniversary of the list. The app was free for 24 hours and saw 13,000 downloads, and despite this giveaway it has been a commercial, as well as critical, success.”

What Else You Should Know: “We specialize in working with the publisher to find exactly the right app project in terms of matching all the considerations of budget, commercial potential, and mutual capabilities. We try to be cost effective and collaborative in ways that extend and enhance the publisher.”

Atomic Antelope

Location: London, U.K., and Toronto

Contact: Chris Stevens,

Area of specialty: Children’s

# of Apps: 12

Has Worked With: Ustwo Ltd., Robert K. Logan, Susie Watson

Notable App: “Alice for the iPad was the #1 children’s book when the iPad launched. It has shipped over half-a-million copies worldwide and has been nominated on television by Oprah as her favorite iPad book.”

What Else You Should Know: “[We put] an emphasis on quality above anything else. We’d sooner team up with a talented homeless artist than make a Barbie book.”


Location: Aventura, Fla.

Contact: Alan Bigio,

Area of Specialty: Educational apps, picture books, action games

# of Apps: 8

Has Worked With: Gerry and Liz Renert, Michelle LeBow

Notable App: Brave Rooney. “We could have just made a simple app that told the story, but we wanted to take advantage of the iPad capabilities and exploit this new medium, so my team had a lot of sessions planning what kind of interactivity and animations would be fun and would enhance the story. From these meetings we gave the illustrator a lot of feedback so he could create the images that we could manipulate. Barry Gott, the illustrator, did a great job with the images and the materials.”

What Else You Should Know: “We really make this a fun experience to the point that we have a great relationship with the writer and the illustrator.”


Location: Windsor, U.K.; London, U.K.

Contact: Dean Johnson,

Area of Specialty: “Our app publishing folio covers both reference and fiction.”

# of Apps: 8

Has Worked With: Random House, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Guinness World Records

Notable App: “Journey to the Exoplanets (FSG/Scientific American) was one of our award-winning apps for 2011. We successfully combined fact and fiction to bring distant exoplanets to life via gyroscope-controlled image panning and our planet-builder feature. We also added over 10,000 words of text and a vast gallery of images to prove the digital book is very much alive.”

What Else You Should Know: “As our background is in design, marketing, and an in-depth understanding of user-centric technology, we provide a genuine end-to-end service. We help publishers select suitable app material from their back catalogues or originate entirely new projects. We can design the look and feel of an app from the ground up or transform an existing brand into something suitable for smartphones or tablets.”

Learning Touch

Location: Boston

Contact: Andrew Shalit,

Area of Specialty: Children’s, special ed, children’s education

# of Apps: 24

Has Worked With: Bob Books Ltd.

Notable App: “Our Bob Books Reading Magic apps reflect the educational values and artistic sensibility of the printed Bob Books, while adding many new engaging features. The result has been a very successful product line. Bob Books Reading Magic has been featured by Apple in the iTunes App Store on multiple occasions.”

What Else You Should Know: “We bring creative application and game design, a focus on educational content, and a commitment to maintaining the artistic integrity of the original printed works.”

Loud Crow

Location: Vancouver

Contact: Calvin Wang,

Area of Specialty: Children’s content, but open to other genres

# of Apps: 9

Has Worked With: Peanuts Worldwide, Oetinger, Sandra Boynton

Notable App: “PopOut! The Tale of Peter Rabbit (which was inducted into the Apple iPad Hall of Fame last year) was our debut title and most popular app until this past November (when A Charlie Brown Christmas was released). There wasn’t anything like the pop-up book style we incorporated at the time. The app really showcases the potential of touch devices like the iPad and how you can bring a century-old book to the digital age while preserving the charm of the original.”

What Else You Should Know: “Most of our team has extensive experience in interactive entertainment. Working on AAA (big budget) game titles has given us the skills to effectively combine creative with technology. It’s also taught us the importance of focusing on quality.”

Monster Costume

Location: Seattle


Area of Specialty: Children’s, educational, and standard game titles

# of Apps: 15

Has Worked With: Big Fish Games, Microsoft, Bridgepoint Education

Notable App: “The Bartleby’s Book of Buttons franchise (volume 1 and volume 2) has been an incredible success. Both volumes have earned the highest praise and accolades from within the application development world (Children’s Book App of the Year by Apple) as well as from the literary and children’s application/education field. Bartleby is written, designed, drawn, animated, and developed by the Monster Costume team.”

What Else You Should Know: “It’s easy to take an already published work and put it on the iPad. Monster Costume takes the process much deeper, with highly interactive code that brings the reader into the story and makes him or her a key element in the story itself.”

Night & Day Studios

Location: New York

Contact: Erin Rackelman,

Area of Specialty: “We specialize in apps for toddler, elementary, and special needs kids. In 2012, we will be gradually moving older: towards middle and high school age kids.”

# of Apps: 50

Has Worked With: HarperCollins, McGraw-Hill, Penguin

Notable App: “Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley. The pure magic of the book is the dye-cut layers that are added and taken away as the child reads. We wanted to somehow keep this magic and add to the book in ways that made sense for the medium. As a result, we created original animation for all the elements of the monster’s face and tried to translate the dye-cut experience on the device. In addition, we added Ed narrating, an adorable narration by a four-year-old girl, and gave the option to turn the experience into an interactive music video by making a sing-along mode, which animates the full sequence and pairs it with a sung version of the book’s text by Ed’s granddaughter Adrian Carney.”

What Else You Should Know: “We bring experience with big brands through our licensing relationships, and in adapting literary content into a digital experience through our work with publishers. We have consistently and successfully migrated authors and illustrators’ work into games, interactives, and enhanced e-books. Additionally, Night & Day Studios has worked with textbook publishers on adapting educational content into a quiz format and college textbooks into interactive experiences. We have been in the kid’s educational market since day one, releasing Peekaboo Barn in 2008 (one of the first apps for toddlers in iTunes).”

Oceanhouse Media

Location: Encinitas, Calif.

Contact: Michel Kripalani,

Area of Specialty: Classic children’s literature

# of Apps: 280

Has Worked With: Random House Children’s Books, HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Notable App: “We’re very proud of one of our newest educational children’s book apps, There’s No Place Like Space!—part of the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library series. Children can tap stars in the sky to reveal constellations, explore and interact with animated objects on each page, search the night sky with a telescope, find hidden information cards from Thing One and Thing Two, and even access an instant glossary by tapping on bolded words.”

What Else You Should Know: “Apps are software, therefore, strong computer engineering expertise is required to build high-quality apps. Most of the core team members at Oceanhouse Media individually have more than two decades of software development experience, with specific focus in areas such as interactive multimedia and games. This has allowed us to bring a diverse offering of books and other apps to the market in a relatively short period of time. Oceanhouse Media’s children’s book apps focus on reading and literacy with interactive features that enhance reading skills.”

Piccolo Picture Books

Location: The Netherlands


Area of Specialty: Picture books for ages 2–8, in five languages

# of Apps: 20

Has Worked With: Van Goor, Van Holkema & Warendorf

Notable App: “The Competition, the first picture book app that we have launched, has been the most successful by far. This title is also offered as a free lite version in the Piccolo bookshelf app. According to our customers, the natural drawings are extremely appealing in this book.”

What Else You Should Know: “Books can be produced quickly and offered worldwide. Besides that, we offer a white label app based on our bookshelf app, customized and branded for other publishers. Piccolo distinguishes in offering all books in five languages.”

Skyreader Media

Location: Toronto

Contact: Stephen Davis,

Area of Specialty: Children’s

# of Apps: 24

Has Worked With: Rubicon Press, Leslie McGuirk, Skywriter Media

Notable App: “Kids and parents both respond to the lush, immersive visuals of Norbert Nipkin. Illustrated by Steve Pilcher, award-winning art director of Shrek 2, Norbert Nipkin was featured as one of The Globe And Mail’s 7 ‘Great Gadgets for Kids’ for holiday 2011.”

What Else You Should Know: “Our titles are built with a proprietary next-generation technology platform that allows us to bring any traditional illustrated book to life as an app. With Skyreader Media, publishers are able to quickly and effectively transform their top titles into compelling and interactive apps.”

Trilogy Studios

Location: North Hollywood, Calif.

Contact: Brady Bell,

Area of Specialty: Children’s, but is “now looking at new opportunities in the tween and young adult space.”

# of Apps: 5

Has Worked With: Penguin Books, NBC-Universal

Notable App: “Harold and the Purple Crayon is our flagship title. We designed the experience with a keen understanding of our demographic and how they’d experience the product. We held multiple focus group tests. Applying our experience from the traditional game development space made all the difference.”

What Else You Should Know: “We offer a complete back-end solution for more aggressive designs—from social connectivity and cooperative experiences to account services and analytics.”

The Wonderfactory

Location: New York

Contact: Joe McCambley,

Area of Specialty: “We’ve developed apps across many different genres of content.”

# of Apps: 16

Has Worked With: Time Inc., Workman, AARP

Notable App: “The Wonderfactory launched the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die app on December 9, and it shot to #2 among all free travel apps—just behind Google Earth—in the U.S. It’s a beautifully designed and highly useful app that inspires dreaming, but also offers practical tools to allow people to track their travels and share their experiences.”

What Else You Should Know: “The Wonderfactory is an experience design company first, and a developer second. That means we don’t design apps [only to] accommodate the technical capabilities of our staff. The Wonderfactory designs the most elegant, useful experiences possible, and then we figure out how to get them built.”


Location: Santa Barbara, Calif., and Offenbach, Germany

Contact: Woody Sears,

Area of Specialty: Children’s

# of Apps: 130

Has Worked With: HarperCollins, DreamWorks Animation, the Smurfs (IMPS)

Notable App: Puss in Boots: “Once we got the story and the design just right, we went about our marketing approach, which involves coordination with distribution channels like Apple [and] outreach to media/mommy bloggers and to our installed fan base. We were able to get some great reviews from users as well as the press and were selected by Apple for both “New & Noteworthy” and “What’s Hot” spotlights and then made our way up to the #1 Book in the App Store.”

What Else You Should Know: “[We have] three years of experience in the children’s e-book space, all disciplines in-house, the ability to engage in different business models (contract, license, joint venture), and platform relationships with Apple, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.”