Apple’s iPad has been hyped as the future of publishing — books, magazines, you name it. Now high-profile venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is putting millions of dollars behind that idea. Through its iPhone- and iPad-focused iFund, Kleiner just led a $6 million round in iPad app publisher Callaway Digital Arts.
Ram Shiram’s Sherpalo Ventures joined Kleiner in the round — an auspicious pair of investors, since Shiram and Kleiner partner John Doerr both invested in Google.
The New York-headquartered startup was spun out of book publisher Callaway Arts and Entertainment earlier this year. Co-founder and chief executive John Lee said creating a separate company was an effort to “burn the boats”, so that the team could focus exclusively on the new opportunities provided by the iPad and Apple’s other devices.
Lee described the company as a cross between publisher Random House and animated film studio Pixar. The apps released so far sound like books optimized for the iPad and enriched with multimedia content. The first app, Miss Spider’s Tea Party, is based on the Miss Spider’s series of books. Children can read the text themselves, but the app can also read to them, and it illustrates scenes with animation.
Callaway Digital just announced its latest app, Martha Stewart Makes Cookies, which includes recipes, instructional videos, shopping lists, and more. It was created in partnership with Stewart, who will be demonstrating the app on her show today, according to co-founder and chief creative officer Nicholas Callaway. The company is working with other well-known partners — the Callaway Digital website hints that apps based on Thomas the Tank Engine and Sesame Street are coming soon.
The company isn’t releasing its products as e-books through the Apple’s iBookstore, but as standalone apps. Eventually, Callaway said he plans to create a storefront with the App Store, where users can find “a whole ecosystem” of apps, mostly related to kids. And it will make money through a range of business models, including a straightforward purchase fee (the Miss Spider iPad app costs $7.99), subscriptions, and advertising.