Book publishers and the world of apps

20 November 2013 by in Book publishing, Business and finance

On 23rd November 2013 the BBC will air the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, Day of the Doctor, and it’s interesting to read how various publishers are producing apps – to cash in – as Dr Who fever sweeps the nation (see the Guardian article here).

You wonder how many people will spend £1.99 on the Sonic Screwdriver app from Useless Creations (what a fab name by the way). While it sounds like a lot of fun – we’re Tom Baker and Louise Jamieson junkies at Infinite Ideas – you have got to ask: Why? Are people really going to be walking around waving their virtual Screwdriver in the streets in order to emit various Dr Who themed noises? I suspect they’ll get some strange looks if they do.

The article also mentions the Random House Dr Who Encyclopaedia app published a couple of years ago to coincide with their printed edition of the same. This seems to be the way that most conventional book publishers have been approaching the app world of late – using apps as Several Tablet Computers Showing Off Capabilitiespromotional tools to enhance print copy sales. The big name TV chefs (Jamie, Nigella et alia) all have apps, usually free, which promote their various TV series and the accompanying books. So, as the price of developing apps plummets, iStore and other app platforms are becoming an important part of book publishers’ marketing activities.

But can publishers create their own apps from content that they own and generate serious income streams? Our experience at Infinite Ideas is very much that they can. We own a database of great consumer content and creating apps is a logical extension of our long-held ambition to be able to deliver great content at the very point the user needs it. We’ve worked with top app developer Mobifusion on a range of lifestyle apps – check out our Better Body series: Abs, Dance workout and Total body workout, all of which have done very well for us.

The app market is maturing and up until very recently, developers have been concentrating on games – just think of the colossal success of Angry Birds, Stick Cricket, Candy Crush Saga and others. But as apps become mainstream and the user demographic widens, app platforms will become a serious source of revenue for book publishers prescient enough to own their own content and clever enough to repurpose it.