Sunday, October 11, 2009

Winnie and Tigger Go On A Digital Venture

Children want books that engage them, often with pictures that help them to visualise the story and expand their interest. Do ebook readers do that today – we don’t think so? Anyone who believes that greyscale in no matter how many shades is child friendly is obviously believing their own words and not awake.

We wrote recently about the digitisation of Children’s Books and we also wrote about the Sony PSPGO game console and Nintendo’s flurry into ebooks. Since then there have been a number of releases that have caught the eye.

EA Games in partnership with Penguin and Danish Publisher Egmont, is to create a new line of books that children can access via the Nintendo DS touchscreen and stylus and which combine storytelling with quizzes, links and other interactive features. FLIPS will be marketed in bundles of 6 to 8 books.

Penguin obviously see a massive installed base of Nintendo DS game machines and a captive audience and hope their offer will cross over and introduce interactive books to children on a platform that they are already engaged on.

Winnie the Pooh, Enid Blyton and others are coming to the digital age should re-engage parents to their childhood and enable them to share their love of these books with their 7 to 11 year olds. AA Milne and illustrated by EH ShepardPenguin also intend to open up their vast list of children’s books which include; Thomas the Tank Engine, Mr. Men, Rupert Bear, Wallace and Gromit on its website later this year.

The challenge is to find the platform children and parents will be most comfortable with and also to build digital content that is capable of being sliced and diced to fit various format offers and devices. Children may like games machines but that doesn’t mean that they want to read or interact with ‘stories’ on them. Also if the parent isn’t familiar and equally engaged they will revert to the tried and tested book. The nostalgia play only works when both the parent and the child are engaged. The other challenge is to respect that AA Milne writing was complemented by EH Shepard’s illustrations and now that imagery is engrained into the stories and therefore should be retained.

Egmont are themselves trying to tap into the childhood memory, or trip down memory lane, and are to publish Hanna-Barbera books with characters such as Yogi Bear, Dick Dastardly, The Jetsons and Top Cat.

Children’s books are often bought by parents, relatives and friends of the family and it is wise to tap into their childhood favourites. The challenge is to ensure that the buyer migrates to, or recognises the value of the digital offer and doesn’t just pick the format they once knew and loved.

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