Reading is changing. Whether we like it or not, the days of forcing our kids to read stuffy dust-filled books about subjects they’re not interested in is fast coming to an end. To inspire reading, Made in Me CEO, James Huggins suggests we need to take another approach, apps. Made in Me makes incredible apps for kids that inspire them to interact; to not only read but watch and participate in the story lines I had the opportunity to connect with Huggins about the growing trend and hear what he had to say.
• I absolutely love your apps. What made you decide to start creating apps for children?
In my case it was definitely having children of my own. They’re 4 and 6 now but as any parent knows it’s an incredible adventure. Children have a seemingly endless supply of energy, enthusiasm courage and creativity and that makes it a fantastically exciting and rewarding space to work in.
• People say literacy is declining. Do you think that’s true? And do apps contribute to this or do they encourage reading?
It’s a funny one this. Without addressing the question of declining literacy levels my main problem here is the assumption that reading and apps are mutually exclusive. Some books don’t have any words and some apps, like Me Books for example, contain books. Children are often required to read in all kinds of different apps and games. Perhaps games and apps are proving a distraction from books or other purely reading experiences I’m not sure. I do know that an app like Me Books or the fabulous Scribblenauts absolutely encourages reading and a love of storytelling.
• What are your apps priced?
The Me Books Shop (app) is free to download and comes with a free book. The average price for further Me Books is £1.99 ($2.99)
• How many kids book apps do you have coming out this year? What is your goal?
Our main focus this year is Me Books which currently contains around 130 popular children’s titles. This number is set to grow over the coming months as more publishers come on board. We launched Me Books towards the end of October 2012 and recently passed the 80,000 downloads mark averaging about 1,000 daily downloads at the moment. Our goal is to grow these numbers and we’ll be launching in the US and Canada as well as releasing an Android version in the Spring.
• What is involved in creating a Made in Me app from idea to release? And what does it cost to produce the average Made in Me app?
The initial ideas come from all over the place. Different people in the team have ideas from all kinds of situations. For example we released an app called Sneak just before Christmas where you have to literally creep up on your iPhone or iPad. It’s so much fun but came from a game I play with the kids where we have to try and sneak up on each other in the dark without making any noise. Cost wise it varies hugely from one app to another but if we can we try and limit a single app budget to no more than £10,000 ($15,000)
• How do you line up the celebrities?
Our Head of Production has built up some really great relationships with various acting agents and sometimes we’ll work with publishers to try and get a particular celebrity interested. I think for the most part though they are as enthusiastic about the books and the idea of an app like Me Books as we are. It can be a tricky and arduous process but we think it’s worth it.
• What do you do to market your apps and stand out amongst the millions of others you’re competing with? What has worked as far as marketing and what hasn’t?
Yes. Big question really. In a nutshell I’d say that good old fashioned PR is still vital to getting exposure in the app world. By far the biggest impact on our downloads and sales has been from national press coverage. On the flip side we assumed early on that certain high profile app review sites would drive more traffic than they did. All I can say is that you have to keep trying all kinds of different avenues but my main tip would be to invest in excellent PR.
• If there are children’s book authors who are interested in working with your company, what would they need to do as a first step?
Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you! http://www.mebooks.co/contact/
Keep an eye out for our US and Canada release by following us on Twitter: @me_books
For anyone who wants to find out more then I suggest they join our rapidly growing Me Books Club and we’ll keep you up to date on all the latest Me Books news. http://www.mebooks.co/storage/campaign/index.html#club