Technology is constantly in flux around us and is being used daily practices than ever before. It is being trusted to monitor, record, and maybe most importantly, to teach us. Along with technology being incorporated further into present day curriculum, tablets and cell phones are being utilized as sources of entertainment. This prevalence of electronics and technology in children’s lives are leading to a shift in apps. Companies are designing apps to be more educational, and more child directed.
One such company is Magic Ink Books. Magic Ink Books is a company formed by two families wanting to contribute to “the new generation of interactive children’s books.” MIB takes stories from the public domain, and recreates them in an app, creating an interactive reading experience for children. The books include a feature that reads the book to them, as well as option for the child or their accompanying parents to read it themselves. The reader can even select whether they want a male or female narrator. Beyond this simple feature, the books are full of visual effects, secret animations, search and finds, sounds, and colouring pages. They are striving to create a new platform for children to be educated, and learn to love reading.
Books Magic Ink has recreated into apps include:
- A Frog Prince
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
- The Night Before Christmas
- Tinker Bell & Friends
- The Little Mermaid’s Surprise
This company avoids the restriction of an Epub file, instead publishing the books in applications available in the App Store. There website even advertises opportunities to publish with them, saying, “You bring the text and artwork, we supply the rest, including narration, sound effects, and programming.”
Beyond this interesting company and publishing practice, I have to consider the implications. While the company’s motivation is honourable, and this could be a fantastic way to get children interested in storytelling–how does a paperback or printed text compare to a visually stimulating and interactive book that can read it for you? Will this create a lazy reader? Is the programming and publishing of a book into an app going to become more prominent? Magic Ink Books is not the only company producing these highly interactive reading experiences, and although Epub3 is providing more technology to be included in the books, does publishing in an app give the most versatility?
Finally, I am linking you to a list of “the best’ interactive book apps for kids, that include some interesting ones, including one that lets your child turn off the lights in the book, and one that is the “innovative update of the original tactile book.”
Before I end this week I am going to broach application publishing for adult content, is it possible? How can the interactive experience benefit the adult reader beyond fun and games. The Guardian writer Richard Lea discusses this in his article “What apps next? Publishers and developers embrace ‘unprintable’ fiction.” I’ll have more to say on this in my next post.