Saturday, May 12, 2012

Who - Or What - is zuuka?

If you've been following the Kids' E-book Bestseller List from week to week, you've seen books by zuuka ever since December.  That's when The Smurfs Movie Storybook hit the top ten in the Kids' section of the Barnes and Noble online store. It was joined by the Puss in Boots Movie Storybook in January, and How to Train Your Dragon in February.  Look at today's list and you'll still see all three sitting steady in the top ten. 

Here's a bit of background from their website:  "zuuka was founded in 2009 and released its first children's app that year. 
It is now one of the largest and most prolific libraries of children's content. With offices in Frankfurt, Germany and Santa Barbara, California, zuuka creates quality children's content in partnership with publishing houses and film production companies such as Dreamworks, Nickelodeon, and Sony as well as HarperCollins, Random House, Thienemann, and the Carlsen."

I reached out to Greg Dawson, the press contact at zuuka and he connected me with Graham Farrar, the founder of zuuka, (also know as iStoryTime.)  Graham has kindly taken the time to share his insights and experience.

Tell us briefly how your company started in e-format. 

We initially started building our ebook apps for our own children. We were tired of carrying around bags full of books to restaurants and on trips; our kids were drawn to our iPhones like magnets but we didn't want to constantly put movies and video games in front of them... So we developed our ebook apps, which have the convenience of being digital and the ability to read themselves to our kids (all of our books are narrated) with the wholesome/educational aspects of books. Basically we built them to make our jobs as parents easier in a way that we didn't have to feel guilty about.

What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing? Have those initial thoughts changed now that you’ve done it?

The market has changed a lot as it has grown... There is now an amazing amount of content out there... It used to be that any book could sell.. your books have to be really good to get noticed now.

Do you think e-publishing will eventually take over print publishing? Why or why not?

I don't see how it can't. Lower distribution costs, more convenient, more functionality (particularly in the app space).. And kids love the devices. It a great thing i think, the more kids reading the better. There is nothing like an iPad to get a reluctant reader engaged.

What is your target audience, and how do you believe the e-format works for that audience and serves their needs?
Our target demographic is primarily from the time they can 'slide to unlock' until they are reading novel length books (and even then in the cases of the big Movie storybooks like the smurfs). One of the biggest advantages our books have for pre-readers, is that since they are narrated children can use the books independently even if their parents are busy and aren't able to read the stories to them.


Have a look at this week's Kids' E-Book Bestseller List -- we have some new authors this week! Of course, I'll be reaching out to them for their insights on their e-format experience! 

Check back on Wednesday, when I'll post an interview with Alyxandra Harvey, author of A Killer First Date.