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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Launches Over-Priced Subscription Service For Kid-Friendly Content

curious worldEvidently pleased with its experiences in Scribd and Oyster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has launched its own competitor to kid-focused subscription services Amazon Freetime Unlimited and Epic.

Curious World is a $10 a month service that offers fun but educational content, including games, ebooks, and videos. it’s launching with over 500 pieces of content in the library, which HMH promises to expand on a weekly basis with around 5 to 10 new videos, games, and ebooks. They also say that they’ll retire some of the content to keep the selection fresh.

From Techcrunch:

Although by description alone, the app sounds like it might not be as fun as, say, watching an episode of Spongebob Squarepants, the publisher has smartly leaned on its own library in order to fill Curious World with authors, brands, and characters most kids already know of and love, and combined that with acquired content. For example, the e-books section includes Gossie and Curious George, among other acquired titles.

Videos, meanwhile, also feature a number of kids’ favorite subjects like music, animals, cooking and science experiments. In addition to exclusive content from HMH itself, Curious World has rounded out the selection of video by working with third-party providers such as NatGeo, PBS Digital, Caspar Babypants (music videos), NASA (video shorts), StoryBots and Young Rembrandts (drawing tutorials).

There are also original, interactive games that also focus on the app’s key learning areas like Math Arcade, Skyscraper Builder and Coral Reef Explorer.

Edit: A reader has reminded me that back in August HMH bought assets from MeeGenius, a similar subscription service. Thanks, Eric!

Curious World has a much more limited selection than Amazon Freetime Unlimited, which is both cheaper and boasts 8,000 items in its catalog. Of course, AFU is only available on Amazon hardware, but that isn’t really a problem given the $50 Fire tablet (and the fact that many parents are probably thinking of getting their kid a tablet).

And frankly, at ten dollars a month Curious World is pretty expensive. And just to give you an idea of how expensive: Fuhu will lease a tablet for that price, and they’ll throw in the Nabi Pass content subscription service for no extra cost.

So while I admire HMH for the attempt, I can’t recommend that parents sign up.

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Eric Welch October 22, 2015 um 9:05 am

My wife and I discusses this (she’s a MeeGenius author/illustrator among other things) and she didn’t think $10/month was too expensive. That’s less than one picture book. Especially if it was shared among several children in a household. Of more interest is what Houghton-Mifflin intends to do with MeeGenius following its acquisition. Perhaps they intend to merge the two services together looking for more content for Curious World.

Nate Hoffelder October 22, 2015 um 9:14 am

Now that you mention it, I bet that MeeGenius was used as the core for the Curious World catalog. Or at the very least it will be rolled into CW.

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