Apps Based on Children's Books Prove Fertile Marketplace
We also have an entire line of Dr. Seuss apps that are purely entertainment based. These apps compliment our e-books. We have games, camera-based activities and even a greeting card app. The games are surprisingly complex. They're solid sellers within the kids games category, with most holding positions in the Top 200.
For many of the Hay House products, we've developed unique custom engines to suit the content. For example, one series of products is similar to tarot cards. The proper way to deliver these "oracle cards" was to bring them to life with interactivity. So, we did just that. We developed a custom 3-D engine to display the cards in a playful manner. Users have been given the ability to draw cards in a wide variety of combinations or "spreads." These spreads can be saved or emailed to friends. The functionality goes way beyond just viewing a simple deck of cards.
Extra: What challenges exist for book publishers who are thinking of delving into the apps market? What advice can you give them to overcome these challenges?
Kripalani: First and foremost, apps are software. Even though Oceanhouse Media is the publisher of Dr. Seuss on the iPhone/iPad, we view ourselves more as a software company than a book publisher. The tools, technologies and skill sets required to build apps come from the computer space much more than the publishing space. …
In terms of advice, I'd recommend publishers find high-quality developers and recognize the value they bring to the table. If they try to outsource the work to someone that will do the adaptation for a flat fee or a nominal percentage of back-end revenue, they'll likely get what they've paid for in terms of product quality. …
Extra: Do you believe certain book categories translate better to apps? If so, what are they and why?
Kripalani: Yes, I do. Any book that's heavily illustration-based or craving interactivity should be adapted as an app rather than an ePub format file. This is why children's books do so well as apps. They're full of illustrations and interactivity that keep children engaged to learn. ePub is a solid way to adapt chapter books or anything that's extremely text-based. However, ePub doesn't properly support children's books given all of the unique programming and features that go into each title.