Children’s Publishers Look Toward Mobile as Next Frontier

“There isn’t a single trend that will have a bigger impact on our business in the next year than the move to mobile,” said Kristen McLean, founder of books analytics start-up Bookigee, speaking at Launch Kids at Digital Book World 2014 in New York.

McLean cited several data points to support that readers are moving to mobile devices versus desktops for their media consumption. According to data from research firm eMarketer, more time was spent on mobile devices last year than on household computers for the first time ever.

“Mobile strategy is essential for the future of our business,” said Deborah Forte, president of Scholastic Media, also speaking at the conference.

Scholastic recently launched a mobile app that is meant to help parents and kids connect with print books at book fairs. In its first two months, the app was downloaded 55,000 times, according to Forte.

“It’s just the first step in figuring out how we can use mobile to sell and to engage the reader,” said Forte.

It’s this kind of creative thinking that Forte advocates for publishers.

“How do we re-imagine reading electronically so that kids are engaged and fully inspired — all those things we do with print books, is there a way to do that electronically?” said Forte. “One of the things someone in this room will hopefully do is invent a new digital reading format.”

Scholastic is now focused on creating mobile apps that help people “do things,” like the book fair app, Forte said. The company is focusing less on creating apps for all of its brands. It still plans on creating apps for its biggest brands, but not for every new piece of intellectual property that it develops. That said, Scholastic is a very large company and has “fifty apps on the drawing board for the next few months,” according to Forte.

While there are many open questions for publishers when it comes to mobile, one particular aspect of mobile should become clear to publishers.

“People tend to think of their mobile strategy as an add on to their Internet strategy, but it’s a whole new medium,” said Rick Richter, the founder of children’s retail platform Ruckus Media.

Related: Kids and E-Reading Trends 2012-2013


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