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Sesame tests eBook potential

Marking the entry of kids players into the fledging world of eBooks, Sesame Workshop and Random House Children's Books have hooked up with
Microsoft to roll out 10 digital versions of Random House's Sesame Street picture books on Barnes&Noble.com.

Available now...
May 1, 2001

Marking the entry of kids players into the fledging world of eBooks, Sesame Workshop and Random House Children’s Books have hooked up with

Microsoft to roll out 10 digital versions of Random House’s Sesame Street picture books on Barnes&Noble.com.

Available now for US$2.99 and US$4.99, the eBooks represent a simple experiment at this point. ‘We’re not attempting to build a business out of this right away,’ says Paul Marcum, VP and GM of Sesame Workshop Online. ‘This was not a huge investment since it uses existing content from the Random house books. It’s important for us to be in all media, so we’re really just trying to figure out whether eBooks can be a successful form of delivery for our content.’

Disagreeing with prevailing sentiment that kids lack the patience needed for on-line reading, Microsoft eBooks core product manager Mario Juarez says that this view doesn’t give enough weight to kids’ strong attraction to new technology of any kind. ‘Kids will sit still for things they really like-Game Boy is a case in point,’ he says. ‘Their fascination and comfort level with electronic devices separates them from their parents. A child is much more likely to pick up a device and look at it with fresh eyes than an adult, who has maybe had many hundreds of hours of miserable experience reading on-line for work.’

Juarez says the medium will pick up steam when hooks like animated sequences and links are added to the Microsoft Reader software in the future. ‘eBooks can be so much more than just text on a page. We see them as having characteristics of the printed book-offering a deep and immersive reading experience-plus the empowerment and personalization of the web-with extras like electronic annotation and instant dictionary access.’

Microsoft is looking to partner with other kids content partners on similar eBook initiatives, and depending on how sales go for the initial Sesame Street titles, is interested in mining more of the Workshop’s properties and triggering some original content as well.

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