Oregon-based digital storybook platform Vooks is expanding its original content slate and hunting for new partners, selling its service as a way for authors and producers to quickly test ideas with audiences through simple animated shorts.
The subscription-based reading platform offers more than 100 titles of animated or partially animated (think birds flying across an otherwise static page) audio picturebooks for kids ages two to eight at a cost of $US4.99 per month.
It recently partnered with Brooklyn-based Red Comet Press to turn the indie publisher’s traditional books into exclusive animated stories ahead of their release at retail. It also teamed up with former NFLer Ronnie Lott to craft a book based on his life, as well as collaborating with Common Sense Networks OTT service Sensical to expand its presence on third-party platforms.
Vooks launched in 2019 and is now available in more than 200,000 elementary schools globally. But since the beginning of the pandemic, the company says its user base has grow by 120%.
The sheer size of its reach, and its digital nature, makes Vooks a good partner for producers and creators looking to test the waters with an idea, says co-founder and chief communications officer Shannon Bex.
The service is currently in production on 140 titles, and it wants to grow that slate even further. It’s actively seeking partnerships with new creators at all stages of development—whether they have a fully fleshed-out story or just a kernel of an idea. Its simple animation style means Vooks can bring stories to life in five to six months—far quicker than the year it normally takes to animate a five-minute short, says Bex. And its growing audience and analytics capabilities make it possible for producers to learn quickly whether an idea is resonating, she adds.
Producers and authors get real-time performance data, and in exchange, Vooks gets new types of content for its users, some of whom find videos more engaging than static text.
“Unlike libraries or educational sites, we want to be the entertainment option for kids that is all about making reading fun,” says Bex. “Kids are reading more now, and even after the pandemic, there’s going to be demand for content that makes new and familiar books more engaging for them.”