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While we know that comics rank highly for apps in the Apple store, children’s book apps like The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and Blue Hat, Green Hat joined them on the top 10 list last week¹, making for a very colorful top-grossing sales experience.
This bodes well for HarperCollins, who will be releasing their digital I Can Read series soon², a collection including more than eighty books known to help children’s reading development. This is quite a feat for the company, especially considering that the actual decades-old series itself boasts more than 200 titles³. Available classics will include Little Bear, My Little Pony and The Berenstain Bears’ Class Trip (great to see the ponies and bears still going strong).
But it’s not as if the idea for interactive reading is anything new, so why the rise in success for children’s book apps now? I even remember playing around with a few on an iPhone last summer; however, the screen is really small for comfortable reading, and a parent would be entrusting their phone to the slippery hands of a sleepy kid at bedtime. In that case, a tablet would be a lot more appealing: better size, it’s in color and there’s no chance of missing a phone call because your kid’s using it.
The ironic thing here is that the technology behind interactive reading has had to become so much more sophisticated in order to accomplish the simple goal of holding a child’s attention and teaching the basics of reading. It’s more convenient for iPad-toting parents, too; they don’t have to search for and buy physical books now, but can just download apps that can come complete with audio, flash and virtual pull-tabs.
That’s why the launch of the I Can Read series will likely succeed in its new digital incarnation. The series will not only have all the bells and whistles, but is known for its system of levels that cater to reading development at any stage, and that coupled with distribution to both the iBookstore and Nook Bookstore proves that HarperCollins have got their bases covered.
Other publishers have of course been heading down a similar path; last month, Random House UK launched their own group of eBooks for kids, but the series included a mere four titles⁴. With so much competition between publishers, agencies and platforms, such a small effort might not be enough to be noticed. Everyone will have to play their A-game (and it better be colorful and teach you something) in order to make a dent in the top apps list.