Why App Developers Need to Be Looking Long and Hard at the Children’s Book Market
Wikipedia reports according “to an IDC study from March 2011, sales for all e-book readers worldwide rose to 12.8 million in 2010; 48% of them were Kindle models, followed by Barnes & Noble Nook devices, Pandigital, Hanvon and Sony Readers (about 800,000 units for 2010).” In 2012, the study shows that e-book sales slumped with a “26% decline worldwide from a maximum of 23.2 million in 2011. The reason given for this alarmingly precipitous decline is the rise of more general purpose tablets that provide e-books along with other apps in a similar form factor.”
Enter 2013: General purpose tablets, like the iPad, continue to offer more engaging and interactive experiences for the reader. As parents continue to streamline their own book purchases onto these types of devices—it’s no surprise that their children will expect to access their books similarly. App developers need to stop and take notice that there is an existing and increasingly popular book app market for parents looking to educate and entertain their children in much more visually engaging ways.
Before a developer can begin to tap into this market, they should understand four important things first:
• Understand that the market already exists: Legions of unpublished children’s book authors are looking to get their literary works published conventionally or digitally. It’s a crowded marketplace, coupled with significant barriers breaking into conventional print. If developers can figure out how to publish, distribute and market books so these unique “voices” can be heard, they’ll be onto something big. You can find these unpublished authors on Twitter in droves searching through hashtags like #picturebooks #kidlit #childrensbooks #author, etc.
• Understand the need for creative people to help successfully deploy a book app: Developers will need quality authors, illustrators, copyrighters, animators, stock music houses and voiceovers, not to mention a creative director with graphic designers at her fingertips who can pull all of those contributions together seamlessly. If you bypass any one of these things, your app may come up short. Remember, parents expect a professionally published book, just as they expect the same when they pick up a book for their children at Barnes & Noble. The only difference is that they expect an “experience” with a book app.
• Understand that the market is evolving and changing: Be prepared to keep on your toes. Already some book apps have cropped up that look something more like a Disney/Pixar movie production. Constantly improve and nurture your network of contributors and stay nimble with the changing publishing market. Make sure you understand that a few years ago, kids were snuggling up next to their parents to have a book read to them when their parents were ready to take the time to sit down with them. Today’s kids are getting their books on demand and being read to by professional narrators, when mom’s lap isn’t available, and they are reading right from the comfort of their own electronic devices.
• Understand the conventionally printed book isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Real books belong on shelves in libraries and in homes, and kids will always need them and should have access to them. It will be a sad day if electronics replace them altogether. Book apps are a vertical market to the conventionally printed book. Lines don’t need to be drawn in the sand about which is better.
Tonia Allen Gould is the producer and author of Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, published by Skies America (July, 2013) an electronically published book app, available in the App Store on iTunes, and is also available by audio on CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes, and other outlets. Gould creatively directed and hand-picked the celebrity talent to make this eBook/app an engaging experience for children ages four to eight-years-old, leading up to the animation where Skies America Publishing Company picked up the project and launched it on iTunes. The app was art directed by “Mr. Lawrence,” the voice of Plankton and an original storyboard director of SpongeBob SquarePants, and illustrated by Marc Ceccareli, another SpongeBob storyboard director. It was narrated by two-time Marconi Award nominee, and a top radio personality and broadcaster in the country, Mr. Steve McCoy. The original musical score was produced by country artist, Robby Armstrong. Gould is available for consulting projects and can be reached via http://www.toniaallengould.com, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.