A new digital-only series aims to get kids to read the classics by integrating them into modern adventure books. Booksurfers, a new adventure series created solely for the Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) Kindle and aimed at 9- to 12-year-olds, follows a group of four children who are kidnapped and forced to jump “into” classic, public domain adventure stories like Treasure Island to steal famous fictional artefacts. Readers can jump between the Booksurfers story and the classic texts using a series of hyperlinks that connect corresponding points in the stories. Booksurfers is believed to be the first digital-only series for kids.
The series is written by David Gatward and published by FourteenFiftyFour, an intellectual property development company that specializes in literary brands and is located in the UK. The first two books in the series, Booksurfers: Treasure Island and Booksurfers: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are available now in the U.S. and UK Kindle stores and are $4.79 in the U.S. Two more books in the series, The Tale of Robin Hood and A Christmas Carol, will be released later this year.
A Booksurfers Book Club is in the works “We’re really interested in getting people talking about which books they would choose to jump into themselves, and which books they’re interested in rediscovering,” said Zoe Watkins, Creative Director, FourteenFiftyFour. “Each of the individual Booksurfers characters also has likes and dislikes when it comes to reading, so we’ll be talking about those as well.”
FourteenFiftyFour has an exclusive five-year e-book deal with Amazon but was not able to offer any more specifics on the financials of the arrangement.
Booksurfers titles will be available across all the Kindle apps, and Watkins said she’d be interested to see any research that shows which devices children are using the most–whether they are borrowing their parents’ Kindles, have their own, or are reading from their phones or computers. Last year, children’s book publisher Scholastic surveyed over 1,000 6- to 17-year-olds and their parents about their digital reading habits and found that 25 percent of the kids had read a book on a digital device–the majority on a PC. 57 percent of kids age 9-17 said they were interested in reading an e-book, and a third said they would read more books for fun if they had access to e-books on an electronic device