Children’s books on steroids: Nation9 brings stories to life on your tablet

Sometimes, we all wish we could go back to being a lovely little toddler again. That’s even more true with what startup companies like Nation9 are doing to revolutionize children’s books.

Seattle-based Nation9 is a next-generation digital and interactive publisher. The company, founded in November 2011 and based in Kirkland, publishes its own line of tablet-based children’s books and also has a collaboration platform that helps writers, designers, developers and others come together from around the world to build titles.

Nation9 books come to life on a tablet and allow kids to move objects on the screen, uncover hidden facts and read-along with narrative functions. All this helps the reader stay engaged while still keeping the story intact.

It’s making reading cool, hip and fresh.

“You can even control when the Big Bad Wolf blows down the little pig’s house,” adds founder and CEO Lincoln Popp.

Popp, a father of three young girls, admits that there is no replacement for a hard-copy book. “Our kids still enjoy reading physical books,” he says. But tablet-based stories provide a new way for children to interact with a story in ways they never could before.

“An interactive children’s story on a tablet is going to allow the child to be at the helm of the story — be it through a choose your own adventure-style non-linear story telling, or offering the ability to move objects on the page, see short videos integral to the story or uncover hidden facts,” he said.

Nation9, which employs 10 people, has two main target customer segments: major brands and parents/kids. The brands include traditional publishers, consumer goods companies and software publishers looking to engage in the content space in a strategic way.

“We have developed titles for companies in a work-for-hire capacity that resonate with their audience and align with their brand,” Popp said.

And then there’s the parents and kids. Nation9 debuted its initial catalog of children’s interactive titles last month, with books for kids ages 0-to-12 and in English, Portugese, Russian and Spanish.

Nation9 CEO and founder Lincoln Popp. The former Microsoftie is a father of three young girls.

Nation9 also worked closely with Amazon to create a variety of titles for Amazon’s new subscription service called FreeTime Unlimited, which provides access to content from some of the top names in education and children’s entertainment, including Disney, PBS, Nickelodeon and others.

“We chose Nation9 because of their passion and ability to connect with young audiences through a unique interactive experience ” Nate Glissmeyer, Director of Amazon Kindle, said in a press release. “They have been instrumental in helping us create a rich catalog of content and capture the imaginations of our young audiences.”

The collaboration platform aspect of Nation9 is pretty neat. It enables writers, illustrators and musicians from all around the world to work together. Nation9 manages the production process of the title and lets the team do the rest.

“We are responsible for producing, testing, distributing and co-marketing of the title,” Popp explained. “Nation9 is the spark to see these ideas come to life and our community members benefit by seeing their story get published on a digital platform, as well as share in the rewards through our profit-sharing model.”

Nation9 makes money by delivering digital books and apps to parents who are looking for positive content for their kids. The company does this through first-party content it builds and sells in global digital marketplaces, in addition to services work for major brands, where Nation9 builds the content and distributes it under a given brand’s name.

Popp is a former Microsoftie and co-founded Akona, a Seattle-based technical services consulting firm in 2008. That company was sold to Beijing-based iSoftStone, where Popp remained on as senior vice president.

Now, he’s leading the way for Nation9.

“Our company understands that kids will use a device to consume content be it for entertainment or education,” Popp explained. “We want to provide net positive content for the child, and in turn the parent — making them feel it’s okay to hand over that device. To accomplish that, we set out to build a brand that would bring forward great stories in new ways that encourage learning, growth and exploration.”

As of now, the majority of titles are available for the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD, but the company has plans to pursue other platforms as well.

Previously on GeekWire: Amazon plans Kindle Fire subscription service for children’s books, apps, shows

  • lan

    These books sound great. I hope they consider making interactive Textbooks in the future.