April 11, 2016 Last Updated 7:17 am

Tapas which wants to be the Candy Crush of eBooks, updates iOS and Android mobile apps

Once known as Tapastic, the comic books app has just changed its name to Tapas (their old Tapastic website is still live) and also updated their iOS and Android apps. They are the latest company to attempt to use a freemium model to get people to buy books in-app – in this case, comic books.

Tapas-iPhone-introThe idea here has been tried before: let readers access a good portion of a book, hopefully hooking them in enough that they will want to buy the whole thing. So, what is offered is a larger percentage of the book than a mere preview (which are generally way too small to be good marketing for the book).

Company founder Chang Kim, who used to work for Google as a product manager, told Publisher’s Weekly that they company is trying to use the Candy Crush model to lock in new readers. “We’re trying to apply the proven business model and user-engagement model from the mobile gaming world to reading. If there’s one industry that’s figured out how to monetize content and engage users on mobile, it’s really the gaming industry.”

Here is their announcement for the app update:

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – April 11, 2016 — Tapas Media announces the launch of their new mobile app, Tapas, a free marketplace that provides users with great stories from professional writers.

Tapas is the first market player in the US to apply the proven business model of free-to-play games to mobile reading. These include techniques such as in-app gift boxes; peer-to-peer rewarded sharing, and targeted push notifications. The app provides literary content taken from a range of media such as traditional books, unique comic creators and illustrated Hollywood scripts. These are reduced into bite-size micro­-chapters of 2,000­ to 4,000 words, or episodes, making them easier and more manageable to read.

Chang Kim, CEO of Tapas Media, says, “Users start by reading books and other stories for free. They unlock subsequent episodes as they progress using virtual keys while having the option to unlock the complete story at any time. Tapas delivers a robust literary experience that we feel is better than anything currently available on mobile or specialty reading devices.”

With 80% of smartphone users checking their mobile devices within 15 minutes of waking up and spending, on average, 2.2 hours a day with their mobile phones and 37 minutes with a tablet, there has never been a better time to expand the mobile reading market.

The combination of mobile content and free-to-read has already taken off in Korea, where the best writers now earn $100,000 a month from mobile sales alone. Users purchase story-specific keys that can be used to unlock episodes of a story, with prices dependent on that book’s current market value. These monetization tools are akin to those used by mobile games Clash of Clans and Game of War: Fire Age, which generated respective sales revenues of $1.3 billion and $800 million in 2015.

With a large and growing audience in the 18-25 demographic, Tapas is already being noticed by established market forces. Julie Trelstad, head of digital at Writers House, says, “One major next step in publishing is to reach the mobile device users and make the reading experience excellent for them.”

Included in the Tapas launch is New York Times bestselling author of Twinmaker Sean Williams. He adds, “Stories are meant to be with us at all times. They are designed to unfold throughout our lives. The idea of having pieces come into your world every morning, or every afternoon, whenever you want to read them on the device that’s always with you. That is the ideal way to experience stories.”

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