Penguin is aiming to bring traditional family storytelling into the digital arena with a new picture book reader app, Me Books, which enables parents and carers to personalise stories by selecting parts they want to record themselves.
The Me Books picture book reader app is available for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, and was developed by Made in Me, creator of The Land of Me website.
Eric Huang, publishing director for Media & Entertainment at Penguin Children’s Books, said: “There are some gorgeous picture book apps available now but the more we looked at, the more we found they are becoming like games or animated to Pixar-quality standards . . . When children play with the games they lose the storytelling experience, or forget the story to watch the animations.
"We wanted to create an app that focused back on the story and bedtime reading.”
The launch Me Books range includes 13 out of print Ladybird Classic titles, including The Zoo which is available for 69p. Others such as Cinderella and The Gingerbread Man will retail at £1.99. Readers can create interactive audio ‘hotspots’ anywhere on the page by drawing around images or text with their fingers, and recording their voice using the device’s microphone. This allows readers to personally narrate each story, voice their favourite characters or record sounds within each story.
Huang said other Penguin Children’s characters and licensed characters as well as picture book brands will be created as Me Books apps. The company will also make the app available under license in the future.
Huang expects the Me Books app to be profitable “more quickly” than Penguin Children’s other successfully launched apps which include Peppa Pig and Baby Touch apps. The publisher is also working with Mind Candy to develop a Moshi Monsters app before Christmas.