by Calvin Reid)
Offering a colorful and fanciful interface with more than 600 digital stories for children, FarFaria is a subscription app for iPad providing unlimited access to its content for $3.99 a month. FarFaria is free to download, nonsubscribers can access one free story every day and the app adds about five new stories every week.
Launched in 2012, FarFaria—named after the classic children’s story beginning of “far, far, away,”— attracts more than a million readers a month, according to cofounder and CEO Ajay Godhwani, who formerly worked for Disney Interactive. While users can read a book a day free, subscribers have unlimited access to all the stories and can read up to 40 titles offline. “We’ve done some promotion but we get a lot of traffic from word of mouth,”Godhwani said during an interview at the PW offices, Godhwani said the app offers about 650 stories for ages 2-9, some original created by FarFaria illustrators and developers and some licensed from partners. He said about “one in five” of FarFaria’s titles are licensed.
FarFaria has partnered with children’s publisher ABDO to offer a bundle of 21 of its educational titles including the Diva Duck series by Janice Levy, about hard work and friendship, and such nonfiction series as Sports by the Numbers, The Biggest Baddest, Books for Boys, a photo and illustration series on a variety of topics, and All About Your Senses with titles exploring the five senses. FarFaria also has a deal with Frederator Books, the publishing arm of Frederator Studios, creator of the Bravest Warrior, the hit YouTube animated series, and the wildly popular Catbug character. FarFaria is offering three Catbug titles: Letters from Catbug, Everything is Okay and If I Had Some Hoverpants.
Godhwani said FarFaria also collects “aggregated data” on how many books are read, the basis on which their publishing partners are paid, and reports the data back to publishers. FarFaria’s home screen is a colorful geographic illustration of islands that each represent a different genre, including Animal Kingdom, Bedtime Bluffs, Mt. Make Believe, Genius Jungle, and Sing-Along City. Navigation is easy and the app offers audio: each story lets the child or parent decide whether they want to read it themselves or use the Read-Along mode and have it read aloud to them.
While subscription content apps are the buzz of the adult reading world, they are more common for children’s material. But FarFaria’s subscription price is particularly inviting to parents at $3.99 a month. “We’re looking to the library model. We want the product to be available to a broad market. It’s easy for parents. We want to get them in for the long term,” Godhwani said. “The app is about reading for pleasure and building a reading habit.”