Just short of one year since its launch last January, Capstone Publishing’s personalized digital platform, myOn, has 700,000 readers and is signing on new publishers at a steady clip. In addition, myOn is also getting kids to read more. “One child read 100 books from home in one month this past summer,” said Todd Brekhus, president of Capstone Digital, which developed the system. MyOn currently has a library of more than 1,700 titles from Capstone Press, Picture Window Books, Stone Arch Books, Compass Point Books, and Heinemann-Raintree. Brekhus hopes to have a 4,000-title library by next year and that goal certainly seems attainable: in December, the myOn platform added more than 230 new titles: over 130 from Sylvan Dell Publishing, which specializes in science, math, and geography picture books, and over 100 from Saddleback Educational Publishing, a publisher of educational materials for young adults.
“From the publisher’s perspective, partnering with the myOn platform is a low-cost way to enter the school and school library digital market,” Brekhus said. The myOn platform provides a library of enhanced educational books, and students, librarians, administrators, and teachers access the platform through the Web at school or at home. Pricing is based on an annual per school subscription, which allows for unlimited and concurrent access to users. “We apply volume discounts when more than one school within a district subscribes, or if the building subscribes for longer than one year,” said Brekhus.
Publishers who want to take part in myOn submit a PDF and audio file to Capstone, which then uses an in-house conversion engine to make a myOn-ready book. The book is marketed and sold through Capstone’s sales channel. Turnaround for Capstone is about 90 days, and it’s converting 300 titles at any given time. All titles on the myOn platform include consistent features designed to help engage students. “Recorded audio, highlighting, quizzes, and an online embedded dictionary—these are just a few of the standard features for students that we include in every book released on myOn,” Brekhus said. “For educators, we also include alignment to standards and suggestions for use in lessons. The features can be turned on or off for students by a teacher. For example, a student may not require read-along audio, and that can be turned off based on the level of the student.” MyOn also includes the Lexile Framework for Reading, which measures student progress in reading increasingly complex text.
Since its launch, myOn has helped increase the circulation of digital titles. In communities like Charleston, S.C., which has adopted the platform, the library circulation for digital books was more than 30 times that for print books. Said Brekhus, “Making the books accessible anytime, anywhere allowed children to read more books digitally than they had access to in print.”
And while Capstone is partnering with publishers like Sylvan Dell and Saddleback (which extends myOn’s titles to middle and high school students) to increase the myOn library, Brekhus is also focused on getting the platform’s content to as many students in as many ways as possible. “Capstone Digital wants myOn users to have access to great digital books from anywhere they access the Internet, and on any device they use to play digital content,” he said. To that end, expect the first Android version in early 2012 and an iPad version before the 2012 school year begins.