It’s been an interesting journey: after months of discussion, development and testing, we have released our first ever electronic product: iPaddy: Irish Slang Guide. When iPhone apps became the big buzz last autumn, it became clear that finally there was a new way that people were willing to pay for content in real numbers: the Information Wants To Be Free movement is all very well, but it doesn’t pay the bills! O’Brien Press decided to jump in and test the water.
We selected our first product by matching the content we have with the market as we saw it: we wanted something entertaining, international and visual and it was not long before we realised that we had the perfect material in The Feckin’ book of Irish slang that’s great craic for cute hoors and bowsies. It is in bite-sized chunks, and the cartoons were just perfect for the small screen on an iPhone. Most importantly, it is genuinely funny.
Normally a publisher would have pretty much total control of a product, apart from physically printing it, so engaging a developer (we went for Plazro Games) to build the application was a new experience. Thankfully, they were great to work with, understood exactly what we were aiming for and had all the skills (3D graphics, 2D graphics, database, coding, marketing) that were required.
The next step was getting voice talent: it was clear that this would only work with great actors to take the humour from the page and make it work on the screen. Morgan Jones and Norma Sheehan are among the best in the game: the recording session was a blast, and they did a great job. Finally, the publication process is very different to anything we had dealt with before: an application is submitted to Apple for their approval before it can be sold: if there are no problems, one day you get a mail to say “ready for sale”, and there you go! No stock to print, hold and distribute either, which is nice.
Of course, the next thing is obsessively tracking the chart position of the app on your iPhone and telling all your friends about it. In the book world the charts come out once a week – the app store seems to update them every couple of mintes. At the last count iPaddy has sold copies in about 20 countries — conquering the world, one iPhone at a time, and just in time for St Patrick’s Day!