Podcast: Neal Hoskins on Publishing Books as iPhone Apps

I am an iPhone geek! I love mine and it enables most of this business as I also have a day job. It is my means to the online world wherever I am. I have already read static ebooks on the iPhone and now they are proliferating in the App Store, I thought it would be great to talk to a publisher who is embracing this new technology.

Neal Hoskins is a publisher with Winged Chariot Press, specialising in children’s books on the iPhone. Their first iPhone book is The Surprise. He and his virtual team are based around Europe.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • How Neal started as a publisher with Oxford University Press, and then started up Winged Chariot Press to produce children’s books in translation in print and digital format.
  • Winged Chariot works as a virtual team, with a designer in Prague, developer in Cambridge and Neal works in Portugal. They work digitally and are now producing digital content. As publishers, they have support with Walker Books, a picture book publisher.
  • The iPhone/iPod Touch is very suitable for children’s books publishing. They are the only devices with colour visuals, touchscreen, hand held and audio, which render picture books in a great new way. Children can have their own story tellers. Electronic devices can be reading mentors. Children can listen and learn on their own or read with parents.
  • Market research on the proliferation of iPhones and iPod Touch in UK and across the world and how families use it together.  1.7 m iPhones 1.3 m iPod Touches in UK. Figures in Australia (1 million of population of 20m so considerable).
  • Marketing the book is the biggest challenge as the App Store is so big, but this is no different to marketing any print book with considerable competition. They did buy ads on TwitterMoms, an influential online network. They were also the first publisher to bring a picture book to the iPhone so got a lot of press for that.
  • Market across borders because the iPhone is global. Don’t constrain yourself. It does involve hard work online but do things within your cost base.
  • Winged Chariot have now started developing their own books as opposed to outsourcing the coding. The books still need the editorial publishing process, edit, check demo and details, but now working with other publishers as a digital provider. Essentially images of the book that are put into sequence with functionality like swipe screen, audio and other functions.
  • Small publishers are struggling so it is important to stand out and embrace technology. It is a creative process. There are huge possibilities for authors and publishers to work together on projects like these. Make digital about new forms of stories, not fear of the transition.
  • Handheld learning conference: the transformation of education. Platforms and research and ideas to rewire the education system. One of the devices given away was the iPod Touch.
  • The transition will happen – within the year you will see other publishers on this platform. The Kindle is great for novel based reading, but US based. Impossible at the moment for non-US publishers to publish on the Kindle, but perhaps that will change with the international release.
  • If you want to DIY an app on the iPhone, it would be best to outsource the coding to a registered developer. Or, use the older style webapps which render your book for the iPhone.
  • Discussion on price point. Can you actually make money with an iPhone app, or should you just treat it as marketing material? Authors and publishers will make money with this, but it will take time before the market settles down. It is just another platform and good books will win out.
  • Popularity on the digital platform may lead to print publishing, in the same way it has happened with podcasting and blogging.

You can buy The Surprise in the app store for around $1 equivalent.

You can also find out about Winged Chariot Press here. Winged Chariot are looking for artists to work with, so please do get in touch if you are interested.

Neal is on Twitter @utzy or you can email: neal at wingedchariot.com

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