NZ E-book software maker signs book deal with Penguin

Kiwa Media seeks up to $5 million to expand its QBook software business

Auckland-based entertainment software firm Kiwa Media has announced a licensing deal with Penguin books, under which it will digitise the content of a range of children’s books for the Apple and other computing platforms.

Under the deal, Kiwa Media’s touchscreen-based QBook software will be utilised to put a range of children’s works into digital format. The first two books, scheduled to be made available from the iTunes store in January, are Sebastian’s Tail and Milly Molly and the tree hut.

Roger Shakes, business development vice president at Kiwa, says Penguin New Zealand is leading the initiative, but that Penguin UK and US will take part.

“We’re looking at $2-$3 million in turnover in the first 18 months,” he says.

That revenue will come from migrating the Penguin content to the Apple and other platforms, including touch-enabled devices from other vendors.

Shakes says “when we scoped this project, we realised the E-book market is dominated by existing platforms such as the Kindle, which is text-based, and black and white.

“Kids expect things to happen when they touch something.

“They won’t get stimulated or want to read if you have a Kindle.”

The availability of colour on Apple devices was a key drawcard, he says.

“That’s very important for kids.

“We were able to match our development with their needs and we’re looking to grow with that generation.”

That means making products that are intuitive, rather than which involve following a set of instructions, he says.

The proliferation of Apple devices is also a huge attraction, he says. Figures from mobile advertising firm AdMob show that US$200 million worth of applications are sold in the iPhone store each month.

Kiwa Media is looking for an investor to provide $4 million-$5 million in funding to help it commercialise the QBook software and gain more publisher partners. (The deal with Penguin isn’t exclusive).

“We’d like to find an investor in New Zealand, but if we don’t, we’ll go over to Silicon Valley.

“We’re looking for parties to come to the table who have an interest in technology and understand it.”

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Tags roger shakesnew mediaqbookkiwa mediapenguin books

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