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© 2008 Dr. Seuss Enterprises L.P.
All rights reserved.
© 2008 kidthing, Inc. All rights reserved.
According to kidthing CEO Larry Hitchcock, “Historically, parents have always been in control of the content their children view. The Web took that away. What kidthing does is return that control to the parent.” His company has created an alternative to Web surfing: a downloadable digital media platform that lives on the computer and offers an activity center for kids ages three to 10, largely centered around digital books.
Kidthing, based in Los Angeles, also offers publishers a way to retain complete control of the rights to their books while selling them digitally. Earlier this week, kidthing announced a partnership with Penguin Young Readers Group to offer digital versions of books including The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, Don Freeman’s Corduroy, Jan Brett’s The Hat and Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola. Last month, kidthing signed deals with Seuss Enterprises and Charlesbridge, and other deals are in the works, according to Hitchcock.
The kidthing program is a digital media player, like iTunes, with a bunch of extra features. After downloading the free player from kidthing.com, users can purchase content—like Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who ($7.99) and Jerry Pallotta’s Icky Bug Alphabet Book ($4.99)—from the kidthing store. (Parents are able to set the program access so that their kids can’t make purchases.) Other products, such as games and videos, are also available through kidthing. The digital books come equipped with format-specific extra features, such as character animation, narrations by professional actors and other ways of interacting with the text and illustrations. Kidthing also designs games to accompany the books—like a digital Horton coloring book—using its own technology.
“Kidthing is a secure platform. It really gives publishers the tools to feel that they’re securely moving their properties into the digital environment,” Hitchcock explained. The company works closely with its partner publishers to develop the digital version of the book and its associated products, which are viewable only through the kidthing platform. Kidthing also offers sophisticated tracking software that lets publishers know how their books are selling, and even how many times they are viewed in the player.
Shortly, kidthing will roll out features that will allow users to share samples of content with online “friends” and to make custom mixes of uploaded personal content, such as photos, and downloaded kidthing content.
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