At Digital Book World 2016, attendees heard Chang Kim, founder of Tapas Media Inc., talk about his company’s new app, Tapas, which allows users to read bite-sized content and access new chapters with virtual coins. After receiving approval from Apple’s App Store, the company released the app today.
Based in San Francisco and Seoul, South Korea, Tapas Media was founded by Kim, in 2012, with a desire to build successful platforms for bite-sized mobile stories. The company’s primary product is Tapastic, a website and app for book and comic creators and readers.
“We have an awesome community of publishers, creators and readers. There’s such a feeling of warm support,” says Kim. “It’s the reason we sort of exist. Having built community from the ground up took us a long time.”
The new Tapas app is an updated version of the company’s existing Tapastic app and will position stories as a mobile game app. The stories, which come from Tapastic writers as well as other published authors, are organized into micro-chapters. Readers can access next chapters with earned virtual coins. Though some stories are free, premium ones come with a fee.
“We thought this [gamifying the Tapastic app] was a major enough update because we’re testing the premium business model and are adding book content,” says Kim. “This is a major overhaul of the app. All the features and content of the current app will carry over.”
Kim thinks how well mobile gaming apps engage users is one reason the Tapas app could connect with readers.
“People definitely engage with content [in mobile games],” he says. “We wanted to look at the gaming industry and see if there were lessons we could learn from it. There are interesting things about user engagement that’s only possible through mobile.”
Kim believes mobile games like Candy Crush and Angry Birds became more addictive when they added engagement features like notifications and freebies.
“Mobile is a platform where you can get a direct relationship between a service provider or an application and a user,” Kim says. “The way people consume content on mobile is really short. It’s not like sitting on a beach reading a 200-page book for an hour. Mobile is for when you’re in line, waiting for the train or coffee, or in the bathroom. It’s for small, short sections, but you’re having them frequently throughout the day.”
For Kim and his team, the visuals are another important element of the app.
“We think that people—especially mobile users—are really visual. The reason why Instagram, Pinterest and all these visual social networks are taking off is because, on mobile, the screen is so small,” explains Kim. “We also just think comics and visual stories are just great ways of telling stories.”
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