Rivr Media Blends Books and Television to Encourage Young Readers
At a time when young children are averaging many hours of television viewing per week (The Nielsen Company recently found that U.S. children ages 2 to 5 years old are watching an average of more than 32 hours of TV a week), Knoxville, Tenn.-based Rivr Media is trying to leverage those viewing habits to engage children more in reading. The company, in partnership with Atlanta-based Dalmation Books, recently introduced a line of digital products called Moving Picture Books, which can be downloaded or purchased as a DVD, and enhances the act of learning to read with TV show-like qualities.
For instance, in the Sesame Street “Rise and Shine!” digital book, the Elmo character gets out of bed and brushes his teeth as the words the narrator speaks are highlighted on the screen. (Unlike paper books and e-books, the pages don't flip, and characters are animated.)
Meg Lonon, vice president and development director at Rivr Media, spoke with Book Business Extra about the company's partnerships with publishers and retailers, and how it's getting the word out about its new products.
Book Business Extra: Is Rivr Media partnering with other publishers to produce these books? Or is it purchasing the rights, for instance, for the Sesame Street books?
Meg Lonon: … We partner with everyone. It's all a licensing deal. … We're not purchasing the rights, per se. We put together a licensing deal [with a revenue] share.
Extra: Will Moving Picture Books release any products based on previously unreleased books?
Lonon: We will. In fact, we are always looking for up-and-coming authors. Three of our [titles] now that we have in our current 44 titles were written by independent authors. ...
Extra: Which retailers have you partnered with to carry Moving Picture Books?
Lonon: Right now, Walmart is one of the stores, [and] the T-Mobile retail centers. Then, we're online with several different partners; most notably, Amazon. … And we're in negotiations with many others. …
Extra: How did the company negotiate the deal with Walmart?
Lonon: Our partner, Dalmatian Press … [is] a part of Anderson [Press Inc.], which is one of the distributors for Walmart. We just showed Walmart the product, and they liked [it].
Extra: How are you marketing these products?
Lonon: … We've given the product to most of the top [blogs]; I would say, at least 50 of the top 100 … parenting blogs. We're also ... getting into ... Facebook and Twitter. We're also in local newspapers, [and] I've done several radio interviews. We're combining traditional marketing with … new media. … We feel that [new media] is where we're going to reach most of our audience. But we also know that there's a lot of grandparents out there who aren't on Facebook or Twitter or read a lot of blogs, and we want to reach them as well. ...