Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
What publishers call “book discovery” many parents call “the struggle to find the right book” for their kids. The folks who run Scholastic Book Fairs have been thinking about this issue and addressed it with a new, free app for iPhone and iPod touch and some Android devices.
Parents or students can point their smart device at the cover of any book in a Scholastic Book Fair and bring up the book’s target age range and reading level (levels include Accelerated Reader, Developmental Reading Assessment, Guided Reading and Lexile). “The Scholastic Book Fair app is equipped with the technology to help every child find the books that they cannot wait to read,” said Alan Boyko, President of Scholastic Book Fairs. The app also provides access to recommendations for similar books and lets families create wish lists.
“We’re well aware that the world is a mobile world so we wanted to use mobile to connect experience of print books,” said Deborah Forte, Executive Vice President at Scholastic and President of Scholastic Media. The Book Fairs app is produced by Scholastic Media using Vuforia technology created by Qualcomm Incorporated. Vuforia allows apps to “see” physical products and connect them with digital content.
Ebooks, though less of a focus than print in Scholastic Book Fairs, are available for purchase through this app via the Storia website run by Scholastic. Forte notes that the growth in children’s ebooks has not matched ebook growth in other categories including adult and YA books. For elementary school children, “print is still popular and successful.”
Scholastic Book Fairs have been a staple at elementary schools because they offer a curated inventory of books—with titles from Scholastic as well as other publishers—and donate some of the proceeds back to the schools. This app “makes the selection of a book more pleasurable and fun,” says Forte.
Children’s reading levels and interests change quickly and busy guardians don’t often keep up with new titles and authors. Middle grade kids are aware of the buzz around edgy YA books, so they can become interested in books that aren’t at their reading—or emotional—level. This app offers “grade level recommendations, video reviews, and other books by genre at the touch of a finger,” said Forte.
I remember volunteering at a Scholastic Book Fair at the local elementary school back when my kids were young. My very first customer was an irate mom intent on returning a book her daughter had purchased the day before. “Irate Mom” shook with anger as she called the book inappropriate and above her daughter’s reading level. Even now, years later, I wince when I think of that scene. Perhaps this app would have prevented that problem and kept volunteers like me blissfully out of the line of fire.
Learn more about exciting developments in children’s publishing at Pub Launch Kids at Digital Book World 2014. Full schedule.