Magic Town, the virtual children's picture book world featuring over 70 stories (with many more to come) from major publishers like Hachette and Simon & Schuster, has launched its Web site, with an app for the iPad and then the iPhone to follow soon.

Using a subscription model of $11.99 a month or $74.99 a year, the platform is designed with Magic Town as a hub for access to the story collection, which will be updated with 10-15 titles per month. The platform is developed by Mindshapes, a tech start up based in London that uses its proprietary interactive storytelling format called Livebook to create a publisher's book and make it a part of Magic Town's library. Mindshapes does the animation, audio recording, and production for all the Livebook titles. Publishers are paid based on their contribution to Magic Town, measured by the relative popularity of their picture book series with users. The company said it has more than 250 titles under license from publishers, that in addition to Hachette and S&S, include Egmont, Barefoot Books and Oxford University Press. Books are not sold from the site.

"We chose to do Magic Town as one platform, rather than a series of individual book apps because we wanted to create a virtual world experience for young children," said Andrea Meyer, Mindshapes's media manager. "Magic Town is a single destination where parents can find a curated collection of top quality picture books all in one spot. We know how hard it is for parents to find good content online and in the App store. And putting it all under one roof, so to speak, makes things easier for parents."