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Book Business January/February 2013 : Page 8

b u zz INTERVIEW ( Industry Innovator: Rafiq Ahmed, Demibooks R emember when book apps for tablets seemed like extravagant publicity stunts for deep-pocketed publishers? Of course you do—it was only a couple of years ago. Well, much has changed, including the ability of small publish-ers and even self-published authors to create engaging apps for the iPad. One of the best-known platforms for creating book apps is Demibooks (others include Inkling, MAZ, Biblio-Crunch, iPublishCentral and Robot Media). Demi-books offers a book creation app as a download on iTunes ($5.99), and charges a pub-lishing fee of $249 to pre-pare completed books for sale. Authors or publishers can learn to use the com-posing tools themselves or work with professional de-velopers trained in the plat-form for between $4,000 and $10,000, depending on scope. (Demibooks Studio also provides this service.) Any way you slice it, it’s much less expensive than what one would normally pay for app creation. Most Demibook proj-ects are done for the chil-dren’s market. Company co-founder and CEO Rafiq Ahmed calls it “the easiest, most cost effective way to create rich, interactive books on the iPad.” Book Business recently caught up with Ahmed at the Media App Summit in New York, where he talked about the product and the expanding app mar-ketplace. was the gap in the market— the pain point for authors and publishers—that you identified when starting this company? Rafiq Ahmed: The pain point is that the apps are really expensive to make. You have to hire software developers. You have to learn how to code. You have to have a really good sense of design. When you are creating products for children or interactive sto-ries, design is really impor-tant. We don’t give you a Book Business: What cookie cutter tool where you pick three options— we give you an entire soft-ware framework within which you can decide how you want to build a book. BB: So each book can have BB: You can assist with distribution as well? RA: That’s right. At Demi-a different feel, a different functionality? RA: Absolutely. We’ve built a lot of functionality into the platform … You have a lot of options there. [On the other hand] if you have a portfolio of 50 titles or 100 titles, then you may want to have some commonality. You may want to have cat-egories of different books and then take similar ap-proaches to them. “You’ve got to build good products. The story—the content— still is king.” —Rafiq Ahmed books we have two ways to distribute. One is through the [Apple] App Store itself. The second product we have is [an online marketplace] called Demibooks Storytime. It’s a curated multi-publisher app store focused on kids’ books. We’ve got brands like McGraw-Hill Education and children’s publishers like Kane Miller. We’ve also got a lot of independent storytell-ers. We curate the very best of that, and we have a direct-to-consumer sales team— about 7,000 sales consultants from our partners at EDC, a distributor for Usborne Books—promoting Story-time. The premise is that between the app store and Storytime, you’re going to get more [sales] volume. BB: Do most Demibooks users come from the self-publishing market or are publishers also finding this to be a useful tool? We have a lot of enthusiasm among self publishers because they can get in at a very rea-sonable cost. Publishers want to get their content out there but are hesitant because it costs so much, so it’s a really cost-effective way for them as well. If you are a new publish-er especially, if you don’t have a huge brand … this is as low-risk a way of getting into this as anything else I can think of. RA: We’re finding both. 8 FEBRUARY 2013 | BOOK BUSINESS

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