Digital kids book apps have been dominating the Top Paid apps in the App Store for the last year and now Kirkus Reviews is reviewing interactive children’s book apps. One of the leading players in the interactive kids’ book app arena is Ruckus Media, who creates digital book content exclusively.
Rick Richter, former president and publisher for Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, founded Ruckus Media in September 2010 and already has about 80 kids book apps in development. Working with established kids book authors, Rukus Media’s apps are developed from scratch with the idea of being able to go beyond a book experience from the start.
“Anything that happens in our apps propels the story, it doesn’t take away from the story,” says Richter. “The danger in the app world is that it will become the CD ROM world. We want it to be a totally different experience than simply retrofitting a book.”Popular Ruckus Media kids book apps include The Velveteen Rabbit and John Henry. In The Velveteen Rabbit app, actress Meryl Streep reads the classic children’s tale to music by George Winston. In the John Henry story app, actor Denzel Washington reads the Brad Kessler story to music by B.B. King. Both apps include original videos and music. The apps are available in Apple’s App Store for a retail price of $1.99. Ruckus’ apps are targeted at kids of all ages.
“Features that seem to be the most popular among 2-4 year olds involve a lot of touching and interactivity, not unlike the pop up book or the lift up tab” says Rickter. “As the kids grow older they are more contemplative and have more concentration for a story, so in this case, we build gaming into the story.”
While steadily growing in popularity, kids book apps have rarely found their way into libraries. But it is not because of lack of interest. “We have had librarians calling and asking how to get our apps, but we haven’t really figured that out yet,” says Richter. “We think a lending model will emerge where a library can buy a lending license from Apple or something like that, which would allow for circulation.”
Some libraries have eReaders, and as more color eReaders hit the market, Richter says he expects to see them arrive in libraries. “The eReaders are turning into full color devices these days with the ability to read apps,” he adds. “Over time these color eReaders and the apps on them will make their way to libraries and a library model will need to emerge for checking these out.”