On digital rights

Today we’ll wrap up our exploration of electronic media with the issue of digital rights. Our chat with Michel Kripalani of Oceanhouse Media continues…

7.  How closely involved is Dr. Seuss Enterprises with creating the app?

Michel Kripalani: Dr. Seuss Enterprises owns all digital rights, so we were able to engage in licensing arrangements directly with them. They are very involved at the onset of each app and also at the stage of final review. They approve all voice-over actors and all aspects of each app. That said, the “middle 90%” where we go off and do our production work is generally all managed entirely by the Oceanhouse Media team.

8. In your licensing agreement with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, you absorb the costs of producing the app, from start to finish. You’ve already completed 16 out of 44 titles. How long does it take, on the average, to complete production of one story app?

Michel Kripalani: On average, we’ll spend about 8 weeks developing each omBook™,  now that the foundational technology is in place.  Multiple disciplines are involved during this time, including graphic designers, voice-over artists, sound effects artists and musicians, technical artists, programmers, management, and the licensor.

9. The Cat in the Hat app sells for $3.99, and is usable on any Apple mobile device — that is, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. You sell a separate version for the Android. How many Dr. Seuss apps have you sold overall so far?

Tia plays on an iPad


Michel Kripalani: We’ve sold over 500,000 Dr. Seuss apps (in total) and we recently crossed the one million mark for paid app downloads at the App Store (all Oceanhouse Media apps). This is fairly astounding when you consider that the company is only 2 years old. Amazingly, just two and a half years ago, very few people had ever even heard of apps.

10.  What advice would you give to new and seasoned authors (and, if applicable, their agents) concerning electronic rights when they draw up contracts on their future books?

Michel Kripalani: When an author is in a position to keep physical and digital book rights distinct, we have found that it just makes sense for them to do so.

Oftentimes, an author may want to work directly with an app publisher on the digital versions of their books, regardless of who holds the print rights. There are major differences in competencies between a physical book publisher and a digital app developer / publisher. Authors need to ask themselves if they would be better served crafting deals appropriately.

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8 responses to “On digital rights

  1. Pingback: Spring forth with books! | got story countdown

  2. Pingback: On voice-overs, and testing story apps | got story countdown

  3. Thanks for helping to sort out some of the noise (and fear) on this subject!

  4. Andrea,

    1) With regards to the future, we intend to continue developing and publishing apps that uplift, educate and inspire. One thing that we know for sure is that we will likely accelerate our development. In our first two years combined, we published 150 apps. This year alone we will most likely publish another 120-150 apps. That said, our primary goal is to ensure that we never cut corners or sacrifice quality along the way.

    2) We look at each project on a case by case basis. There are certainly factors that help us to green-light a particular project; a strong brand / market awareness, demonstration of commercial success in print form, availability of a full series of titles rather than a “one off” deal, etc. There are other criteria, but as I said each app is really looked at on a case by case basis.

    3) If you are tech savvy and you can program, and you own the rights and you want to build a book app, then go for it… but do ask yourself a few questions first.
    “How is your app going to distinguish itself from the thousands of others in the market?” The simple fact is that the AppStore is getting flooded, particularly with children’s content. How will you get above the noise and achieve visibility?
    “Are you willing and able to put as much effort into the marketing as you put into the technical side of the equation?” Building a high quality app is only 1/2 of the equation. Many app developers miss this completely.
    “Is the code that you are going to write re-purposable?” A custom engine for a single app is an expensive proposition.
    “Are your projected sales figures realistic?” Most people severely overestimate how many copies they will sell of their app. Ask around to get a good sense of what “normal” might be for your type of app.

    Don’t let this discourage you, though. At some point you simply have to close your eyes and jump in. We did just that two years ago. We are thankful and grateful for all that had transpired since.

  5. 1) Would you talk about the future plans of Oceanhouse Media?
    2) How are you going to be choosing what projects to take on in the future?
    3) What advice do you have for someone who is tech savvy and can program, has the rights to material, and wants to make a book app?

    Thanks for doing the Countdown with Joy!

  6. Michel, I’m glad to hear of your dual purposes of staying true to an author’s vision and supporting literacy. Joy, thanks for this look at the story behind these digital stories–most illuminating.

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