Should You Create an App Spinoff of Your Book?

It’s hard to believe, but the word “app” has become an essential part of the English language. Nearly every person with a smartphone uses apps in one way or another; from the app that helps you find the nearest gas station to the one that keeps you abreast on the latest news and events.

But books have been kind of late to the party. Very few authors have thought about taking their books and creating corresponding apps (and potentially increasing their profit margin).

Here are a few stories of successful app offshoots of print books:

shifter_book_app‘Shifter’ Book App
According to Publishers Weekly, “Anomaly Productions, an indie comics publisher specializing in digitally enhanced graphic novels, has released an app verision of Shifter, a sci-fi graphic novel with augmented reality technology that features actor Wil Wheaton and a cast of voice actors. Since its release last week the app has been the #1 selling book app in 25 countries. … The app features 200 pages of comics material, 65 interactive touch points and two and a half hours of audio.”

berenstain_bearsThe Berenstain Bears and Too Much Car Trip App
Yup. There’s an app for that. This app allows kids (and their parents, I suppose) to join the Berenstain Bears as they embark on a family road trip. The app claims to help children learn new vocabulary, while they personalize the story with their own narration and select-a-scene navigation.

draculaDracula: The Official Stoker Family Edition
This app was recommended by Common Sense Media as a one of the best apps for tweens/teens. As they describe it, this “classic tale makes for bloody, unique iPad book experience.” Sounds … fun?

So what do these apps have in common? And should you think about having an app made for your book? A few things to keep in mind…

  • The genre that has most saturated the app market is children’s books. This isn’t a surprise, as apps keep kids busy (and that keeps parents like me happy).
  • The only other genre that has really delved into the app market is graphic novels. Again, this makes sense: the visual, interactive qualities of that genre are perfect for an app market.
  • A book has to be successful before an app can take off. It costs a fair amount of money to make an app to correspond with your book. And you have to be confident that you’re making a sound investment. Everyone knows who the Berenstain Bears are and who Dracula is. Being a “fan” of these books will make people buy the corresponding apps. But, if you’re a new novelist, the likelihood that your app will sell before your book becomes mainstream is relatively small.

In summary….

  • If you’re a children’s author or a graphic novelist, an app may be in your future.
  • Once your book takes off, you should definitely think about an app for it. After all, who can say no to an additional revenue stream?