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Children’s publisher developing app for eReading

eBooks make up only 5 percent of Scholastic's sales of children's books now, but the company hopes Storia will change that.

A leading publisher of children’s books is taking a big step into the electronic market: Scholastic Inc. is developing an app called Storia, which includes around 1,300 eBooks and multimedia eBooks that can be bought directly from the publisher or from retailers.

Such favorite picture book series as “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and “Ready, Freddy!” will be in digital format for the first time. The app also will feature games, quizzes, interactive stories, an electronic dictionary, and a virtual bookshelf that kids can organize.

Scholastic Media President Deborah Forte says the idea is to make eBooks “more accessible and more relevant.”

A beta version was released March 6 for teachers and families who buy through the Scholastic Book Clubs and other Scholastic sales channels. Storia is expected to launch for the general public in the fall, when it should have more than 2,000 books.

Forte said Scholastic sees the app “as a way to support reading, and something that’s just plain fun.”

The app is free and will be available first at scholastic.com/storia, then on iTunes later this month. Those who download the app will get five free eBooks, including two multimedia selections. Forte says the eBooks should range in price from $1.95 to $20.

Kids are still well behind in the eBook race, and before this week Scholastic had apps for only a handful of books. Vice President for Business Development Jeff Mathews says that eBooks make up around 5 percent of sales for Scholastic children’s books, a fraction of the percentage many publishers report for adult books. Mathews and Forte cite the relative expense of a Kindle or Nook eBook reading device, even as they drop under $100, as a reason few kids have them. They also say that the typical eBook reader device is not designed for young people.

“The devices, the reading experience, and the ecosystems are showcasing all manners of books, magazines, and videos,” Forte says. “We are dedicated to kids and reading.”

Storia is intended for children ages 3-14, and Forte says that the app is carefully tailored for each age, whether the books themselves or the difficulty of the quizzes. Parents and teachers can track which books their kids are reading, how long they read them, and which new words they learned.

“We see Storia as following three basic principles,” Forte says. “One size does not fit all. Parental involvement. And the activities and functions allow for interactive engagement.”

For more news about eBooks in education, see:

Georgia’s largest district launches all-digital learning platform

Will Amazon’s $200 tablet spark interest among schools?

Self-destructing eBooks rile librarians

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