Blogger Digital Content Task Force

Hot Dogs, get your Hot Dogs

Galactic Hot Dogs

Galactic Hot Dogs, that is! Cosmoe’s Weiner Getaway is the first book in a three part series written by Max Brallier and published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

The book has taken off on Funbrain.com, a popular gaming website for children that has been a launch pad for some of the biggest blockbuster hits in children’s book publishing. Jeff Kinney’s ever popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid got its start there as a free book in 2004 and now has over 150 million copies in print.

Other titles such as Rachel Renee Russell’s Dork Diaries series, Lincoln Pierce’s Big Nate and Brandon Mull’s best-selling fantasy series The Beyonders all of gaining wider audiences due to their popularity on Funbrain and its sister site Poptropica.

Galactic Hot Dogs seems to be destined for the same success. More than six million children have read the book on Funbrain since its debut in the fall of 2013 when individual chapters were posted. What sets this apart is that more than a million children have played the story-based Galactic Hot Dogs game that went live on Poptropica two months ago. Like many books that are popular on the site, it appeals to 8- to 12-year-olds who appreciate its kooky hero, Cosmoe, and its humorous, comic-strip-style illustrations.

Recently, multiplatform books with online gaming components have become essential tools in the children’s book publishing industry. They are clearly seeking to reach young readers who are migrating to digital and mobile reading. Sixty-seven percent of children between the ages of 2 and 13 read e-books, according to a report released in January by Digital Book World and PlayCollective, up from 54 percent in 2012.

While many fear that sites such as Poptropica and Funbrain might detract from reading time, authors and publishers clearly seem to think differently. Some publishers have found that interactive games can increase print sales rather than erode them. Scholastic’s multiplatform game and book series, 39 Clues, which started in 2008, has more than 17 million copies in print.

Clearly there is core audience for this new books to gaming crossover market and they are buying the print books. I think this is definitely the next “big” thing in the children’s digital world.

Allison Santos

ALSC Digital Task Force

Director, Princeton Children’s Book Festival

Princeton Public Library, NJGalactic Hot Dogs

One comment

  1. Roxie Munro

    Yay, Allison Santos! Totally agree with your analysis. Crossmedia, for certain types of children’s content, is the next big thing. And why not? Why should some ideas be limited to paper, when they can be expanded upon or adapted well to other media? Neither is “better.” They are just different, and yet deal with perhaps similar concepts, maybe the same characters and basic ideas. (Disclosure: I do print, ebooks, and apps, and, as Allison mentions, the apps, in particular, enhance and keep alive sales for the print books.) Then, there is the issue of the “gamification” of nonfiction: children learn better and stay engaged when content is expressed in fun “play-like” ways, particularly helpful for reluctant readers, boys, ESL, and special needs children.

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