Scholastic creates virtual Horrible Histories world

<p>Scholastic is to tap into the success of virtual worlds such as Habbo Hotel and Disney&rsquo;s Club Penguin with its own Horrible Histories World. </p><p>It is the first time a book has been used as the basis for a virtual world. </p><p>The subscription-based service will launch in June 2011 and will offer children and young people a virtual taste of the &ldquo;Horribles&rdquo; world. It will feature a series of &ldquo;rooms&rdquo; based on historical periods, including Rotten Rome, Awesome Egypt and Terrible Tudor London. </p><p>Children will be able to create an avatar and explore each world and its &ldquo;nasty bits&rdquo; of history and &ldquo;meet&rdquo; and chat to other avatars. </p><p>Development plans include an online &ldquo;shop&rdquo; where subscribers can buy virtual goods for their avatar, a fully moderated chat feature, and special events where subscribers can meet author Terry Deary and characters such as Henry VIII. </p><p>Lisa Edwards, publishing and commercial director of Scholastic Children&rsquo;s Books, said: &ldquo;We see this project as something that will enable children to enter the Horrible Histories world in a new way, but it is also a commercial venture that will enhance the book brand. The idea is always to remind children, now they are familiar with Horrible Histories, to try reading the books.&rdquo;</p><p>Scholastic will offer the subscription at around &pound;2.99 per month, in keeping with other subscription-based websites, and hopes that sales of virtual products will also boost income from the service.</p><p>Edwards said: &ldquo;We will be reaching out to all our Horrible Histories and Horrible Science fans online and supplementing that with marketing through our clubs and fairs businesses.&rdquo; She added: &ldquo;If 10% of those people register for some free activity and 10% of those who register then subscribe, we will be looking to break even in 18 months.&rdquo;</p><p>The company has developed a three-year plan for Horrible Histories World and aims to give it a global reach via its international publishing partners. Other Scholastic brands, including Horrible Science, may also be developed into virtual worlds.</p>