Joining a growing number of platforms offering a new generation of app authoring tools, Skyreader Media, a developer of interactive kids media, has announced a beta release of Skyreader Studio, a simple-to-use suite of tools aimed at helping publishers create interactive and multimedia digital content quickly and at low cost. Skyreader Studio is aimed at conventional and self-publishers, supports all device platforms and is expected to fully launch in early 2013.

Skyreader Media creates enhanced e-books and apps for children, but earlier this year, Skyreader Media CEO Kevin Gillis said, the company made a change in their business focus. “We stopped making apps and started working on creating tools,” he said in a phone interview with PW, emphasizing that the company was focused on solving a “scalability problem with immersive, interactive children’s book apps and looking to keep costs down to be attractive to book publishers, comics publishers or animators.” The result, he said, is Skyreader Studio, which will allow publishers to create and “output content to any format or device. The beauty is that is a seamless, simultaneous export to any platform, just press the button and off it goes.”

The system is a web browser-based platform that offers instantaneous preview of works-in-progress. It outputs to Apple’s iOS and the Android platform as well as other formats with retail distribution to major outlets as well as via the Skyreader Bookshelf. Skyreader Studio offers the ability to use both frame-based and programmatic animation, video, tilt sensors, read along recording and it offers an “asset base library” that allows producers to reuse content for their next project.

Gillis said the new system was an effort to put truly interactive and multimedia authoring tools “in the hands of creators and not code writers. It’s for anyone who wants to produce stories. It’s all drag and drop, no programming is needed. It can be used to create simple or complex works and the producer can easily link a variety of elements together to have a richly animated page.” The software is free to use. Skyreader charges a “small aggregation fee” on books sold or the tool can be licensed on a per title basis. Skyreader offers distribution through the major e-tailers as well as via its own retail outlet the Skyreader BookShelf.

Gillis said he expects the service to attract self-publishers and Skyreader also offers “full support,” for those that need it. “Self-publishers will be the biggest draw. We want to be the YouTube of interactive publishing. This is all about the stories. People want to get their stories produced and they don’t want to mess around with all the tech.”