Looking for a way to make its apps stand out in a crowded marketplace, Ruckus Media Group has developed the Ruckus Reader, an app that houses all of the company’s interactive storybook apps in what company founder Rick Richter calls “the Ruckus ecosystem.” In addition to its own content, the Ruckus Reader will sell children’s digital titles from other publishers and will provide a “Ruckus Meter” which will send weekly e-mail reports of a child’s reading progress.
“Discoverability is the most important thing,” said Richter about the launch of the reader. “We’re setting up a digital kids' superstore.” The reader, which is available today in the iTunes store, is launching with more than 30 of Ruckus's own apps in a mix of iReaders (digital storybook titles); eReaders (e-books); vidReaders (narrated video books;); and premium eReaders. The reader also includes 25 titles from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Richter said he expects to add more titles from other houses soon. In all, Richter plans to add about 20 new titles monthly, all aimed at children aged 3 to 8.
Launched in September 2010 by Richter, Ruckus has to date focused on the creation of original apps as well as apps developed through licenses signed with such companies and brands as Hasbro, Sea World, the Wiggles singing group, and preschool TV series Dino Dan. Richter acknowledged, however, that it is difficult for titles to get noticed in apps stores that have over 400,000 titles, something that prompted him to add a retail platform to complement Ruckus’s publishing operations.
Richter will back the launch of the Ruckus Reader with an ambitious online and social media campaign that, while aimed primarily at parents, will also include a push to teachers and other educators. The apps are designed to meet the standards deterimed by the Common Core State Standards, and the Ruckus Reader includes a dashboard that provides details of a child’s reading skills. Weekly e-mails will be sent to four parties approved by parents and the updates will include recommendations of print titles that can supplement the content parents buy through Ruckus.
The apps are grouped on bookshelves according to brands and reading level. The bookshelves are free to download and consumers get one free iReader title and samples of the two other titles on the shelf. “Everything begins with free,” said Richter. “The gaming industry has proved that free works.” Individual titles can then be bought for $3.99 and a subscription that includes unlimited access to all content for six months is $24.99.