Epic! is a subscription ebook service for children aged 12 and under. The Palo Alto based developer has teamed up with some big names in children’s book publishing including Kids Can Press, Lerner Publishing Group, Open Road Integrated Media, and Simon & Schuster to create Epic! A 1 month free trial is available after that a subscription is $9.99 per month or $79.99 a year. Epic! says it currently has over 2,000 titles (I didn’t count them!) with plans to add more every month. It includes both Fiction and Non-Fiction books.
The app has a password protected parents area, this contains social media and email links; some of these links are also in the settings area of the individual profiles, to access them you must enter a birth year. From the parents area you can create up to 4 reader profiles, check your subscription status, and clear your cache if you are running short on space.
Each family member can customize their own avatar for their account, and as they read they can unlock more avatar options and earn badges. In setting up the profiles you can choose from 4 reading age levels: 4 & under, 5-7. 8-10 and 11-12.
The user interface reminds me of Netflix, and within each player’s profile you can browse and see a different selection of books. At the top are the book of the week and other highlighted books e.g. for Easter Week Bunny books are in the spotlight; then books you have recently read; then books recommended for you followed by a variety of categories e.g. Picture books, Non-Fiction, Historical, Fantasy, Adventure and Graphic Novels. Whenever you select a book it shows the suggested Reading Age inside the front cover, alongside a brief synopsis of the book.
As you browse through the bookshelves you can mark books as favorites to make them easy to find, read them now, or download to read offline. These are not book apps- they don’t have any interactive elements, music, sound effects or narration; they are ebooks – faithful digital reproductions of print book that contain the original text and illustrations. Having this app is not like having a bunch of book apps but instead like having a home library of thousands of print books that you can take with you wherever you go. I really like the ability to read offline as that way I can stock up with books before we are traveling and can use them in places without internet such as in the car or on a plane. When reading with an internet connection it was nice to be able to read instantly rather than waiting for a book to download; though I did find in my twins bedroom, where the internet connection is slow, that I couldn’t read the picture books too quickly or the next page wouldn’t be loaded when we turned the page.
My six-year-old twins are really enjoying all the books they can choose from and I like the fact that each child has their own profile and that the available books cover a wide age range. For reluctant readers the rewards may act as an incentive to get them reading more. As a parent I really appreciate the fact it keeps a daily record of books read, and minutes reading each book, it makes keeping their school reading logs up-to-date so much easier!
The book selection is really good especially for the younger ages , there doesn’t seem to be quite as big a selection for the 11-12 year-olds. My kids like to see familiar names such as Olivia, Click Clack Moo, Henry and Mudge, and The Boxcar Children but also enjoy discovering the many new books in the app. When reading you can zoom in the see more details and can read full-screen in either portrait (single page) or landscape (double page) mode.
Overall, I really love this app but there is one thing I’d like to see added and that is a search option. It would be great to be able to search for favorite authors or for a particular topic and if you find one book your child enjoys to see if there are others by the same author available.
I would heartily recommend trying out Epic! to see if it is a good fit for your family. If you are looking for book apps with lots of interactions and narration this collection is probably not for you. However, if you are looking for the digital equivalent of having a personal library of thousands of kids books ready to be read and enjoyed with the added bonus of a reading log and reward system for reading then this is a great choice. Epic! is positioning itself to be the Children’s Book equivalent of Netflix, much as Oyster is for adult books. Although it has nowhere near as many titles as Oyster’s over 200, ooo , it does have by far the largest collection of well-known books I’ve seen in a children’s subscription book app. Ultimately I think Epic!’s long term success or failure will depend on it’s ability to keep growing its collection of titles so that the app remains fresh and interesting, I think if they deliver on their promise to keep continually adding more quality content they will have a hit on their hands.
The app is free to download but to access the library you must subscribe -there is a 1 month free trial after that it is $9.99 per month or $79.99 for an annual subscription, you can switch off auto-renew in your iPad settings.
Epic! – Books for Kids – Epic! Creations Inc
NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.
Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).