By Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Chief Executive Optimist, Digital Book World
First announced last December, Sesame Workshop’s new eBook initiative, Sesame Street eBooks, in partnership with Impelsys, has finally launched, featuring 121 titles and a subscription plan that’s significantly cheaper than Disney Digital Books: $39.99/year (with a launch rate of $24.99) vs. $79.95/year.
Jennifer Perry, Sesame Workshop’s Assistant VP and Editorial Director of Worldwide Publishing, expressed her excitement about the opportunity to “breathe new life into existing content” and sees it as “a perfect fit” for the 40-year-old non-profit organization’s primary mission.
“We are, first and foremost, a non-profit educational organization,” she explained. “Sesame Street eBooks is about being where children are, offering literacy-based educational experiences via our evergreen content. We’ll be testing throughout the summer to see which formats and characters our subscribers find the most appealing, and we’ll be adding new eBooks on at least a quarterly basis.”
The eBooks will initially be available only to US-based subscribers, and only via subscription, not a la carte, out of respect for their 25+ print publishing partners. “We are respectful of, and committed to our print publishers.” Perry also noted that they are working on plans to make their eBooks accessible to schools and libraries, though no deals are ready to be announced.
The relationship with Impelsys — which has “a traditional licensing agreement”, making them both the technology provider and the publisher — was a “true collaboration,” built from scratch on their iPublishCentral platform (“we didn’t have to retrofit ideas”), and was made possible by Sesame’s savvy approach to digital rights.
“We license formats, not content,” said Perry. “We’ve always retained e-rights.”
From the press release:
Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization that produces Sesame Street, and Impelsys, launched today a new online Sesame Street eBookstore at www.ebooks.sesamestreet.org. Readers can subscribe with Impelsys to get unlimited access to a library of more than 100 Sesame Street eBooks for an annual subscription price of $39.99. A special introductory subscription price of $24.99 is being offered to subscribers through July 4, 2010.
Managed by Impelsys, the store features an eBooks collection including a wide range of fun and educationally rich Sesame Street titles such as Elmo’s ABC Book, Abby in Wonderland, and Grover’s Guide to Good Eating. Titles are offered in a variety of formats: eBooks allow a child to read along at their own pace; audio eBooks contain narration, sound effects, and music; animated eBooks bring beloved Sesame Street characters and stories to life in full-color animation; and interactive eBooks invite children to play along and learn.
Other features include an auto-play option that turns the pages for the reader and text highlighting that visually reinforces the narration in audio eBooks. The site also provides the option of viewing in Kids Mode, which simplifies the navigation for a child by displaying only the available books while removing parent tips and menus.
Details of the licensing agreement aren’t public, but Impelsys will be responsible for the marketing of the Sesame Street eBook program, while Sesame Workshop will continue to feature a rotating selection of five free eBooks on their main site.