Near the beginning of last week, entrepreneurial media giant Bertelsmann AG acquired Smashing Ideas for its Random House publishing division. Random House, as the largest English-language publishing company in the world, needs no introduction, but here’s a little about Smashing Ideas: a Seattle-based digital media company, SI has been helping clients adapt their traditional art and media forms to electronic systems for fifteen years.1
With new iProducts cropping up and more sophisticated tablets and phones hitting the market, Smashing Ideas has received more and more attention for their website, game, and app designs. They’ve done work for innovative paragons like Disney, LEGO, Microsoft, and Nintendo, and have received acclaim for their outstanding efforts.
In forming a relationship with Smashing Ideas, Random House will be better able to electrify even more of their static content into lively, interactive applications, especially in categories like cooking, education, and children’s books. RH recently made a bold statement by adapting an app for Dorothy Kunhardt’s Pat the Bunny® (with the help of SI, of course). As hinted by the registered trademark symbol, Pat the Bunny has become a veritable brand in the realm of children’s stories: originally published in 1940, Pat has become one of the most well-known “touch and feel” books.
In adapting a book known for its tactile experience to digital content, Random House is setting an example of the extent to which its ePublishing can successfully transcend traditional content. Though all touch-screens feel the same, a digital application for the story allows sound to be incorporated, as well as no-fuss-no-muss “coloring” pages. There’s even a small mirror effect at one point in the story, executed via the camera of the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, which beats the usual murky tin foil seen in printed children’s books. A video demo of the application can be found on RH’s website.
It’s tough to say how the expansion of digital content for children will impact the way they learn and enjoy themselves. It seems safe to assume that they’ll find themselves on different intellectual paths than those their parents have trod; however, will SI develop content that benefits growing minds, or will the expansion of digital content only serve to decrease the ever-dwindling attention spans of children? On the production side, how will authors not only adapt to new media forms, but also learn to collaborate with people who specialize in nonverbal storytelling tools? Now that revealing information can be such a fluid experience, even the chef writing her own cookbook might need to consider how her recipe will unfold before the reader’s eyes.
Smashing Ideas will continue to work out of their headquarters in Seattle, as well as their offices in Portland and the UK. With its impressive résumé and successful marriage to Random House, SI will no doubt continue to create more options for electronic media development.