What’s a Book App and Should You Create One?

Book apps and eBooks are hot topics in publishing right now and a lot of writers and illustrators are trying to figure out what it’s all about.

I believe the mobile device market is the biggest opportunity children’s authors, writers and illustrators have had to share their stories with kids this century.

The market is exploding in growth and needs quality content.

In this article, I share the reasons why I turned my children’s book into a book app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. And I share what other authors, writers and illustrators need to know before deciding if turning stories into apps is the right move.

First, What is a Book App?

A book app is an interactive eBook book that works on a mobile device like a tablet computer (the iPad or Samsung Galaxy), a smart phone (like the iPhone) or a device like the iPod Touch.

Think of it as an “eBook on steroids” because book apps go beyond the illustrated eBook to include features like narration, sound effects, interactive storytelling, animation and more.

Why I Turned my Children’s Book into a Book App

Because my children’s book, “Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island” is an alternative format (it has plastic treasure chests holding toys on it), I’d decided to self publish it.

In June 2010, I was about to reprint my first book and print the second book in the series when I saw a book app on the iPad for the first time. I knew that I’d just seen a way to take my passion for interactive reading to a whole new level and a way to expand my reach to a global market at a lower cost and with higher financial returns.

In March 2011, I launched my first app and the experience has been extraordinary.

I’m so excited about this opportunity for other writers, that I’m now sharing with you what I’ve learned so that you can consider whether or not book apps are a way to share your stories with the kids of the world.

Also, it’s important to know that I’m not a technically minded person. I’m one of those people who uses about 5% of my phone’s functionality! So if I can do this, you can do.

5 Reasons to Create a Book App

If you own your rights (whether you are published, self published or unpublished), there are a number of reasons why turning your story or book into a book app makes sense:

  1. The mobile device market is exploding and these devices need content. Analysts had predicted that Apple would sell 3 million iPads in 2010. They sold nearly 15 million and accounted for 90% of the tablet sales. There are nearly 200 million Apple devices in market right now. And analysts predict that over 155 million tablets will be shipped by 2014.
  2. Global market – If you have a book app, then consumers around the world can download your book app immediately, without having to pay for shipping. I sold apps in nearly 20 different countries in my first few weeks in the App Store. And I didn’t have to manage a thing. I just receive a deposit in my bank account each month.
  3. Lower costs and higher financial returns. In almost every case, producing a book app will be less expensive than printing a book because there are no printing, binding, shipping and warehousing costs. And if you sell via the Apple App Store, you keep a higher percentage of the revenue than you would selling via a retailer or book store – Apple keeps 30% and you get 70%.
  4. No inventory to manage – once the book app is in the App Store, you can sell as many copies as the market demands. No worries about reprints or returns.
  5. Anyone can create one – there are companies that will work with writers and illustrators to create book apps for you, or you can work directly with a developer yourself to bring your story or book to market.

If you’d like to know more, simply visit Digital Kids Author to download my free report, “The Top 5 Things you MUST know before Creating a Book App for Kids.” And if you’d like to learn more about HOW to create a book app, you can check out the eBook, “The Author’s Guide to Book Apps,” as well. It’s the book I wish I would have had before I started creating our app.

Karen Robertson is the author and creator of the “Treasure Kai” series. Her book app, “Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island” is named in both the “Top 10 Most Original” and “Top 10 Most Innovative use of Interactivity” lists from Digital Storytime. Click here to see the app demo video or learn more at the App Store.