Catch 'em young
Updated: 2011-09-16 08:40
By Yao Jing and Andrew Moody (China Daily)
Peter Slavenburg (left) and Klazien Brummel, co-founders of follow a muse, show their digital publications on an iPad during the Beijing International Book Fair. Photos by Liu Zhe / China Daily
Dutch publisher Peter Slavenburg believes China represents a major opportunity for digital content aimed at the children's market. He is the founder with Klazien Brummel of the Amsterdam-based follow a muse, which publishes children's stories aimed at 4- to 9-year-olds for Apple and Android platforms.
He says the digital market has huge potential across the world with the number of smartphones set to exceed 400 million by 2014, according to industry analysts, many of them in China.
"We are working on Chinese stories, perhaps connected with the Forbidden City or science developments, which will have general appeal. If you think you have a universal story to tell it would be crazy not to bring it to the fast-growing Chinese market."
Chinese publishers are also having success in selling books to a new digital audience.
Zhu Yu, digital copyright manager with Children's Fun Publishing, a joint venture between China publisher Posts & Telecom Press and Egmont Group, a Denmark media corporation, says, however, while digital sales have been increasing the market as yet has not fully accepted the new technology.
"Our digital sales have increased 75 percent from June to present, but it is still far away from our expectation. I think it will take a long time for Chinese parents and children to accept the new form of reading," says Zhu.
The publisher's reservations about digital were revealed when it announced at the Beijing International Book Fair it was to launch two Chinese books, Jackal and Wolf and Unusual Princess, in eight countries, including the UK, Germany and Sweden, but none would be in digital formats.
"As we are exporting the paper edition of the book to the overseas market, it is not the right time for us to promote it on digital platforms. We are worried that the digital edition will somehow affect the sales of paper edition," adds Zhu.
Jenny Sang, managing director of Pearson China, which specializes in educational learning products, says digital content can potentially offer major advantages over books.
"If in five years, every primary school student has a mobile terminal providing courses which are interactive and giving them links to their teachers and classmates, it would be much more interesting than a bag of textbooks," she says.
Brummel at follow a muse says the functionality offered by digital can transform the reading experience.
"With what we are offering, you can record yourself reading the story and your child can be read a bedtime story while you are away on business trip. Grandma, who lives in the Bahamas, can read out aloud from an iPad on the dining table in Amsterdam," she says.
(China Daily 09/16/2011 page5)
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