Kirkus Reviews Launches New Category – Children’s Book Apps

While at the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference earlier this week, I attended a session on literary reviewing in the digital age.  Bob Carlton from Kirkus was on the panel and provided an overview of the new project Kirkus is taking on to review children’s book apps.   It will be live in early March.  The full press release is below.

Maintaining its position as the first review resource to bring a critical eye to children’s book apps as a distinct new category, Kirkus Reviews today announced the creation of a discovery engine devoted exclusively to this burgeoning area of publishing and app development. Available in early March, it will be found at http://www.kirkusreviews.com/childrens-book-apps/.

The announcement was made by Bob Carlton, Vice President and Publisher of Kirkus, at the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference in New York. Carlton was a participant on the panel, “Literary Reviewing in the Digital Age.”

Distinguished from digital illustrated books by their interactive elements, more than 400 children’s books stormed into the app world during the second half of 2010. A call to curate kid’s storybook apps has been made over the past month by parents, educators, librarians and publishers. Last month, Kirkus announced the first Top Ten list for this category at www.kirkusreviews.com/childrens-book-apps/.

“We are reviewing children’s book apps with the same rigorous standards that have made Kirkus a trusted source for what’s new and best in books for more than 75 years,” said Carlton. “With the explosion of the iPad and other mobile devices, consumers are looking for a trusted source to provide this same curatorial service Kirkus has been providing for decades. In this case, it’s particularly helpful for parents who are trying to choose storybook apps that are best for their children.”

Kirkus has reviewed 50 titles, bestowing a “star” on 10. The coveted star is is assigned to apps & books of remarkable merit, as determined by the impartial editors of Kirkus Reviews. In addition to reviews, the discovery engine features app demonstrations and interviews with developers and authors. Although accessible online and from any mobile device, the Kirkus iPad category and discovery engine is optimized for use on the iPad to allow for seemless discovery and purchase of book apps. Parents will have the opportunity to hone their search by answering 5 quick questions about their child. Kirkus will then return a selection of book apps to match their child’s interest. The questions include gender, age, price range, visual interests, and interactive elements.

This book app discovery engine is indicative of the new direction taken by Kirkus Reviews since its purchase by Herb Simon in February 2010. Long known for its incisive reviews used by librarians to make purchasing decisions in advance of books’ publications, Kirkus in the coming months will expand online and on mobile devices through curation and book discovery features aimed at consumers, in addition to its traditional base of librarians, booksellers and the media industry.