Taking zuuka from Garage to International Children’s Digital Publishing Company

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

What makes a 35-something with no publishing background an expert on a book blog? In this case it’s the result of a couple of little people, Mia (6) and Chase (3) and a thirst for technology, which put me on the path to becoming founder of zuuka (iStoryTime), one of the most well known producers of interactive children’s book apps and eBooks in the world.

Zuuka, at the ripe old age of almost 4 years old, was one of the world’s first developers of children’s book apps and ebooks. As silly as that sounds (I often tell people we’re the oldest kid on the monkey bars), one must remember that four years ago apps essentially didn’t exist, and ebooks were new, questionable, black and white only affairs. At that time, there really was no such thing as a children’s eBook market. But we wanted one.

As a dad I was tired of carrying a separate bag of books (dad’s are lazy) for my daughter every time we went out to dinner, on a road trip, etc., but there were no other options for children’s books. Then along came the iPhone. The iPhone for all its amazing features has an almost magical ability to attract the attention of little eyes and fingers. If you’ve ever tried to take one away from a 3 year old you know exactly what I mean.

The problem was that once those eyes were attracted, the only content, available at the time, for them were movies and video games. Not that I have anything against video games and movies, in moderation, but I like books and I think reading is good for kids.

As a parent I didn’t want to give my kids content that wasn’t my first choice just because it was convenient. What I wanted was content that was engaging to my kids, convenient and didn’t make me feel guilty. From that iStoryTime was born.

Since then a lot has changed, there is now an unbelievable amount of amazing digital content for kids, we’ve published nearly 300 products, have had 11 No. 1 book titles, work with incredible companies, including DreamWorks, Sony, HarperCollins, Smurfs, PBS and Jim Henson, across six platforms (iOS, Amazon Apps, B&N Apps, B&N Books, iBooks) and feel like things are just getting started. I’ve never been more excited about the opportunities ahead for publishing, media, education, parents and kids.

The past four years have seen a tremendous explosion of digital content. While we’ve had many successes, we’ve also had to reinvent the way we work a number of times. I’m looking forward to discussing those learnings with you in future blog posts. Feel free to leave comments below if you have any specific comments, questions or requests.

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Graham Farrar

About Graham Farrar

Serial entrepreneur Graham Farrar is co-founder of zuuka, publishers of iTalk and the award-winning iStoryTime library of interactive storytelling, ebooks and educational apps. With multiple best-selling storybooks including Puss In Boots, The Smurfs and Kung Fu Panda 2, Graham has worked to create one of the largest multi-platform library of mobile children’s entertainment. Previously, Graham was part of the founding team of Sonos Inc., which designs and manufactures a next-generation multi-zone wireless digital home stereo. Before Sonos, Graham was part of the original team at Software.com and helped grow it from a private company through its initial public offering on the NASDAQ in 1999. Graham is Dad to two kids, 3 and 6, who are his inspiration for reinventing the art of storytelling. Follow him on Twitter at @grahamfarrar.

3 thoughts on “Taking zuuka from Garage to International Children’s Digital Publishing Company

  1. Ann

    It’s great that you basically created a niche out of something that you felt strongly about. I’m looking forward to reading more posts about how you created your publishing business. I assume you did not do all the story writing, artwork and programing yourself. I’m interested to hear how you found help and how you financed the early projects. Then also how you marketed to a non-existent market.

    Reply
  2. Karen Robertson

    Can’t wait to read future posts. You will have seen so much over those 4 years. Look forward to hearing where you think things are going as well. Congrats on your success.

    Reply

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