November 2nd, 2012
iPhone app iPad app iPod Touch app
Production credits: Me Books Ltd
Launch date: 19th October 2012
A New Children’s eBookshop
The Literary Platform are already familiar with Me Books and were big fans of their original storybook app that allowed us to reconnect with some favourite Ladybird Classics in digital form.
Now Made in Me, the company behind Me Books, have expanded the range of titles available through the app and positioned themselves as the digital equivalent of a ‘little independent bookshop’.
Made in Me is a family-run creative studio based in Shoreditch. Within the team of seven, the ‘family’ comprises brother and sister Jen and Mike Outlaw – and brother-in-law James Huggins. Their previous work includes the BAFTA-nominated The Land of Me, an interactive early learning adventure for young children.
Once we found out that their office was just around the corner, we arranged to meet Jen, head of marketing, to hear more about this new launch and find out what else they’ve got up their sleeves.
So how does it work? The Me Books app is free to download through iTunes and serves as an entry point to the shop that now features nearly 100 classic and contemporary children’s books which are available as in-app purchases. The current selection includes well-loved Beatrix Potters titles, David McKee’s wonderful Elmer books and Not Now Bernard, Topsy and Tim, Peppa Pig, and individual books such as Chris Judge’s The Lonely Beast. As books are downloaded you start to build up a digital library for your child. To get you started, Little Red Riding Hood (Ladybird Classics) comes pre-loaded and beautifully showcases the app’s features.
Me Books have retained the same basic functionality as the original storybook app. Nothing is altered or added to the original print book – it’s the same book just in digital form. No fancy animation, bells or whistles, children intuitively swipe pages and touch the text to hear it read aloud.
And the narrators are certainly a big draw here. Richard E. Grant, Sir David Jason, Tamsin Greig, Adam Buxton and Josie Lawrence each read a story and inject a decent dose of humour, charm and personality – especially when you stumble upon their comedy ad-libs.
What users will really enjoy – other than the convenience of having so many children’s favourites in one device – is the company’s patented ‘draw and record’ technology. Three different audio versions of the story can be recorded and played back. For example, your child or a sibling can become narrators, or Mum, Granny or even Uncle Tony can record themselves for playback at a later date.
Me Books have clearly been working hard with publishers to secure this opening range of books and we’re told there are more deals in the pipeline. So far Penguin, Puffin, Bloomsbury, Andersen Press have all come onboard which is great news as the more books, the more customers are likely to come in, browse and purchase. In return, publishers get a generous share and none of the developmental hassles and upfront production costs.
So what this nifty startup have done brilliantly is to provide children’s book publishers of all sizes with a smart solution to the problem of how to make their back catalogue available digitally, and in a simple, user-friendly format.
Made in Me are clearly a busy bunch full of enterprising ideas. Upcoming projects include their own game-based app, a partnership with Bookstart and their first print book which will compliment their award-winning Land of Me app. We’re certainly going to keep a neighbourly eye on them.