By Dennis Abrams
When Rick Richter left his position as President and Publisher of Simon and Schuster’s Children’s division to found Ruckus Media Group with the mission of “creating experiences through mobile devices that entertain toddlers to teens from their fingers to their minds,” it seemed to most observers that he was turning his back on traditional publishing for good. Most observers, though, were wrong.
It was announced on September 7, 2011 that Ruckus Media was joining up with Scholastic to create the Scholastic Ruckus imprint, which will publish top children’s author’s across all platforms, including print, e-books, and enhanced e-books. Ruckus Media will be publishing interactive story apps -– more than a dozen projects are already in the works — and the first (yet to be named) releases are planned for 2012.
Richter is excited about the possibilities of the new imprint, and doesn’t see it as a step backwards. “We wanted to be able to offer a full range of services to authors and illustrators,” he said. “We’re a state of the art digital publisher joining up with the extraordinary range of Scholastic, and the idea is that we’re going to take on big products and aggregating top products to feed Scholastic’s initiatives — Ruckus will be as at home with digital as Scholastic is with print,” adding that “Ruckus will never be in the print industry. We’re simply taking the standard industry model, print then digital, and flipping it around.”
This is just one of several major moves Ruckus Media Group has made this year, including a deal announced in April for a licensing agreement with Hasbro to jointly develop original mobile storybook apps based on Hasbro brands, including Tonka Chuck and Friends, My Little Pony, and Transformers Prime. The agreement covers all digital platforms in the English worldwide; the storybooks will include interactive elements such as activities, coloring, and recording functions.
With one third of Ruckus’s business coming from overseas –- Korea, China, Japan, the EU, and Saudi Arabia -– it’s no wonder that Rick is looking forward to Frankfurt. “We’re there to seek out international partners in the eBook world, in the interactive story book world, but what we’re really looking to strike up is local marketing partnerships, worldwide. We are hoping to place in every market.”
And at the end of the day, despite the partnership with Scholastic, Ruckus remains a pure plate digital company. “We don’t print anything, we don’t take any returns, although we are happy to partner with people who do that.”