Epic!, an ebook subscription service for children 12 and under, launched less than two years ago, but it has already achieved a major milestone: more than 10 million books read.
The company, which works with more than 100 American publishers—including HarperCollins, Macmillan and National Geographic—also announced that it has added more than 500 Spanish ebooks to its increasing library, as well as 1,000 new audiobooks.
The service bills itself as a “Netflix for children’s ebooks” and is clearly trending up: more than 100,000 ebooks are read on the platform each day, and more than 2 million ebooks were read last month alone.
Epic! is also a fairly inexpensive option for parents and teachers to get children reading. It is available for $4.99 per month outside the classroom, and for free inside it (most, but not all, ebooks are available in the classoom version).
Children can read an unlimited number of ebooks, all of which are streamed, and hundreds more are added each week—everything from picture books to chapter novels to read-to-me ebooks. The platform is also highly personalized for each child, including a recommendation engine that becomes tailored to each child’s taste, as well as options for rating and favoriting ebooks and a log that tracks what ebooks and how much of each the child reads.
Founders Suren Markosian and Kevin Donahue created Epic! because they believed children were not being served properly with an easy-to-use service that was dedicated to them, not to readers of all ages, as well as one that parents trusted to be left alone with their children.
While there were some other services available at the time of launch, “there really wasn’t a service that was close to Netflix where it was an all-you-can-read scenario,” according to Donahue.
“Most of us here on the team have children, and my daughter was just beginning to read when we started this,” Donahue says, “and I really wanted it for her to be able to use.”
To help get the platform going, the founders created an advisory board that determined which publishers to work with and which titles to incorporate. The board is comprised of people who used to work in and run children’s publishing houses, literary agents and well-known, award-winning authors.
The company is currently focused primarly on the domestic market, but has plans to expand into new markets and add new languages in time; the addition of Spanish titles is just the start.
With millions of ebooks being read by children, and many more certainly to come, Epic! is racking up vast amounts of reader data. And as that data increases and Epic! begins to wrap its arms around it, the company plans to publish that data both for publishers as well as a general audience to dive deep into children’s reading habits.
“I think we’re entering this new era of focus around families and kids and how they relate to digital content,” Donahue says, “and I think kids have sort of been left behind a bit from the most sophisticated apps and services. We’re trying to be one of those companies that is pioneering that area and creating a very sophisicated app and service that even parents would be impressed with and use.”
And with children becoming more sophisticated and learning digital technology at an earlier and earlier age, it makes sense, then, to try to address their needs as early as possible.
“I’m really hoping that the industry moves further in that direction with investment in serving children and families in a real way,” Donahue says, “rather than over-commercializing things and instead trying to really address the needs of children.”
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