Scholastic’s Storia kids e-reading platform is set for a big expansion this year. In the spring, Scholastic plans on launching an app for smartphones as well as growing the number of titles available on the platform to 3,500 from 2,300 today. Storia is already available on PCs, iPads and Android tablets.
“Kids are part of a new media culture that we are not,” said Scholastic Media president Deborah Forte, speaking at the Children’s Publishing Goes Digital conference at Digital Book World*, adding, “One size fits all doesn’t fit kids e-reading.”
With Storia, Forte said, Scholastic is trying to build a customized e-reading platform that caters specifically to children of various ages. The publisher just launched a new version of its “reading manager” software within Storia, which allows parents and teachers to more closely monitor their children’s reading progress. It also promotes new books to children and offers a more seamless purchasing process for parents. Nine out of ten kids say they are more likely to finish a book they choose themselves, according to Scholastic research.
Storia currently offers 700 books with what Scholastic calls “enrichments” and what most others in the industry called enhancements, typically animation, casual games, light interactivity with the images and more.
“Enriched books are incredibly popular with kids,” said Forte, adding that there’s been some controversy around ebooks with enrichments. “People assume they distract. We are not finding that because you can turn off the interactivity in Storia. Storia enriched ebooks are more of what kids, parents and teachers want. We found that they generated excitement around reading, especially among reluctant readers.”
In a short video played by Forte in the middle of the presentation, users of the Storia app offered their support.
“My daughter no longer views reading as a chore” said one parent.
“You don’t have the distraction of paper,” said a cheeky kid, getting a chuckle from the conference audience in the McGraw-Hill auditorium in New York.
* This event was sold out. For those who missed out, Digital Book World Conference + Expo offers an afternoon of children’s publishing-focused programming tomorrow at the main conference. Register online here or show up at the Hilton New York Hotel to register at the location.