With Digital Book Application Users in the Millions—and Growing Rapidly—Should You Be Offering Apps? A Q&A about Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's pioneering efforts with mobile phone e-book applications
Earlier this month, research company Flurry (Flurry.com) reported that between April and July, the number of digital book application users increased by 300 percent. In July, Flurry tracked nearly 3 million active e-book application users on smartphones. While these numbers may make many book publishers think, "We need to start offering this," a number of publishers already are active in the mobile e-book application space, including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH).
According to David J. Langevin, vice president of digital business development for HMH's trade and reference group, "We had mobile applications—reference titles, mainly—available on some large carrier networks as far back as 2003." More recently, in December 2008, HMH announced a partnership with vendor ScrollMotion to start offering e-book applications. One of these titles, “Curious George's Dictionary”—which is sold on iTunes for $9.99—is an interactive, illustrated e-book that teaches children through voice and images about the alphabet, words that begin with those letters and simple concepts.
HMH also has partnered with multilingual software provider Enfour of Japan, among others, to develop mobile applications. In August 2008, HMH announced that, together with Enfour, it would provide iPhone applications for American Heritage dictionaries and other best-selling HMH reference titles.
Langevin spoke to Book Business Extra about his company's experience in the e-book application market:
Book Business Extra: Why did HMH decide to add mobile phone applications to its product offering?
David J. Langevin: We are simply trying to make our content available in all the formats our customers want. … Since , we’ve worked with quite a few mobile-content developers and distributors. Enfour Group in Japan has been our top reference-title partner. … Mobifusion is another. And recently, we started a new mobile e-book partnership with Shortcovers.
Extra: What goes into creating an application on HMH's end?
Langevin: We’ve been able to make apps a reality for consumers for two main reasons: The first is the fact that we’re able to provide high-quality file formats to our developer partners. This is the file they use to incorporate our content into the actual product.