A peek into the whizbang world of book apps

Another in our series introducing each genre, written by the organizer.

Boing! Zoom! Zap! Is that your book making all those noises? Are you making things dance, bounce and sing? You must be reading a Book App, maybe on your smart phone or iPad.

Digital publishing is certainly changing the way we experience books, but we’ve been especially fascinated by the development of interactive book apps. These are not just ebooks like those you would read on a Kindle. Book Apps are highly interactive programs that integrate animation, games, audio, music–or all of the above–into the text.

With this first year of the Cybils Book App category, we’ll be focusing on Book Apps developed for the iPad/iPhone and sold through the iTunes App Store. Although Motorola and Samsung have also come out with tablet computers, we can only ask our judges to have one device for viewing. The majority of apps are available through the iTunes App Store, so this will be our focus this year.

The Book App category will look at a wide range of book apps, from picture books to chapter books to nonfiction titles. The apps must geared mainly toward storytelling and/or literacy and not just gaming. And like all of the other Cybils categories, children must be the book’s primary audience. Cybils establishes the criteria that all eligible books must be published between Oct. 16, 2010 to Oct. 15, 2011. For apps, this means that the original app must have been published during this time, not just the most recent updates. Finally, since our panelists won’t be able to find apps in their libraries, we will only be able to evaluate apps when developers can send us codes for review copies.

What makes a great app for you and your children? What brings your children back again and again? We can’t wait to explore this new and constantly changing world of Book Apps!

— Mary Ann Scheuer

Go to the Book Apps nomination page.