IPG Children's Publisher of the Year

Nosy Crow Stories Aloud

Posted by Tom on Nov 16, 2012

Artwork by Sarah Massini

We’re very excited to announce a brand new reading initiative today: Nosy Crow Stories Aloud.

Stories Aloud is a new way of bundling together digital content with our print books: from January, every one of our paperback picture books (and existing picture book titles, as they come up for re-print) will come with a FREE audio reading using children’s voices, complete with sound effects and original music. To activate the audio reading, all you have to do is scan a QR code on the inside cover of the book, and the audio will be streamed from the web (over 3G or WiFi).

We think that this is something that will work well for booksellers looking for ways to bundle together digital and print content, for parents who don’t always have the time to read with their children (or want to keep them occupied) and for children, especially those who don’t quite have the skills to read independently yet.

Kate says:

“My own children loved listening to audio recordings of their favourite picture books. Years before they could read for themselves, audio recordings meant that they were able to listen to stories wherever they wanted to. It was a really empowering thing for them that helped to build their understanding of books and their literacy skills.

“We’ve been looking for ways to invite all booksellers, not just those who deal in ebooks, into the world of digital content, and this seems like a really great way to do it: every bookseller who stocks one of our picture book paperbacks will be offering their customer free digital content when they sell a copy of a book.

“Our innovative idea brings together digital listening and reading print books in a way that uses today’s technology and that works for booksellers, for parents and for children, so now families can listen to a story, wherever and whenever they want: just pick up the book, pick up a device, scan the code and hear the story.”

Stories Aloud books will be on sale from January, and we’re launching with seven titles:

The Princess and the Peas by Caryl Hart and Sarah Warburton
Pip and Posy: The Super Scooter by Axel Scheffler
Pip and Posy: The Little Puddle by Axel Scheffler
Goldilocks and Just the One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson
Hubble Bubble, Granny Trouble! by Tracey Corderory and Joe Berger
Whizz Pop, Granny Stop! by Tracey Corderory and Joe Berger
Dinosaur Dig! by Penny Dale

You can read more about Stories Aloud (along with full instructions on how it works, and a demonstration QR code) here, and find our press release here.

Comments (5)

  1. Nosy Crow go one step further again. A wonderfully innovative idea! Its a real honour to have a title included. So easy to use and love the sound effects too! All adds to an even more enriched reading experience. Just simply brilliant.

    Sarah Warburton Friday November 16, 2012 #

  2. You clever crows have done it again! I absolutely endorse what Sarah says. Very exciting!

    Penny Dale Friday November 16, 2012 #

  3. That is amazingly clever!

    Anne Booth Friday November 16, 2012 #

  4. I came across this post and wanted to provide a different perspective. I’m afraid I can’t project the same level of gushing praise at yet another attempt to shoehorn technology into an experience that doesn’t need it. How many more excuses can you offer busy parents not to read with, and to, their children?
    I was particularly tickled/dismayed by the marketing gloop that proclaims: “So now families can listen to a story, wherever and whenever they want.” Indeed! Heaven forbid they might have to listen to each other!

    Tim Monday November 19, 2012 #

  5. Thank you for your comments, everyone.

    Tim – we know this won’t be for everyone! However, one of things about the project that I think is good is that it’s free and totally voluntary – if you don’t want to make use of the audio readings, you can ignore the QR code on the inside cover and read the book as usual! We do think there are certain groups to whom it is potentially quite valuable, though.

    We’ve had a very positive reaction from all of the retailers we’ve shown this to. A number of them – particularly smaller independents – have struggled to find a way of bundling together digital and physical content (which, whatever your feelings about digital as a reading medium, remains a pressing commercial concern to booksellers) and competing with the likes of Amazon: this offers them a way of offering customers something in an easy, non-intrusive way.

    Librarians we’ve spoken to have also been very enthusiastic. Several have commented specifically that parents often ask for audio books for children, which typically come in CD format – but the problem with those is that they get easily lost or damaged. This is something that won’t break or disappear.

    I would imagine that there is a selection bias which means that readers of our blog are disproportionately avid readers-aloud of books for children, but that just isn't the case for everyone. Lots of parents - for whatever reason - don't feel confident or don't have the time to read to their children, and this offers a way of allowing very young children the opportunity to have stories read to them. Our feeling is that any increase in books being read is a net gain. We simply don't see a downside.

    Finally, I think it's also worth mentioning that while I clearly have a stake in this, charities like Booktrust and The Literacy Trust have been supportive of Stories Aloud as well - the former tweeted about it just this morning, describing it as a "great new reading initiative": twitter.com/Booktrust/status/270510649560420356

    Tom Monday November 19, 2012 #

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