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Donya Blaze

Why LeVar Burton’s ‘Reading Rainbow’ App Is Not Free

After Reading Rainbow was cancelled in 2009, the show’s host, LeVar Burton knew he had to do something to save the brand. So, he and his business partner, Mark Wolfe, bought the rights to the name, launched a new company, RRKidz, and created the Reading Rainbow app featuring over 150 books, video field trips and classic clips from the TV show.

And Burton says that, at $9.99 for a month or $29.99 for six months, their app is a real steal.

“Now, when you look at that, that breaks down to $5 a month. You can spend more than $5 on a single children’s app. We were looking for a solution for families that made economic sense. It’s the wild west, you know? We are all making it up as we go along,” he said in our Media Beat interview. “We have value, a product that is of value for families, that is economic and full of the kind of enriching content that the brand, Reading Rainbow, has always been known for.”

Part 1: LeVar Burton: ‘Cutting down trees to make books is not sustainable’
Part 3: Wednesday, we discuss Burton’s role in Roots and how he achieved longevity in Hollywood.

LeVar Burton: ‘Cutting down trees to make books is not sustainable’

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Who didn’t love Reading Rainbow as a kid?  The iconic 80s show used songs, celebrities and video to actually make literature fun. Well, times they do change. And the show’s onetime host, LeVar Burton, says that Reading Rainbow just wouldn’t work on TV today and, furthermore, the days of printed books are also numbered.

“I don’t know what the time frame is, but I do know that at some point, cutting down trees to make books is not sustainable. It’s just one of those things we’re gonna have to get over ourselves about, right? Like oil consumption, it’s just not sustainable,” he explained in our latest Media Beat interview. ”So, we’re looking at a future, whenever it comes, that we’re gonna consume most of the reading that we do on some kind of electronic device or another. We will still have printed books; they’ll never go away. I think our emotional attachment to them is too strong. What it will do, I believe, though is make the books that we own more valuable to us, more precious.”

(And watch the full interview for a freakin’ awesome homage to that beloved RR theme song.)

Part 2: Tuesday, Burton introduces us to the new Reading Rainbow app.
Part 3: Wednesday, we discuss Burton’s role in Roots and how he achieved longevity in Hollywood.

Lance Ulanoff on the Constantly Changing eBook Market

I had a friend back in the mid-’90s who was too excited to show me how great Jurassic Park looked on his dad’s new laser disk player. Well, today Spielberg’s classic is on eBay for about $5 in that format. (No need to rush; it looks like the bidding is wide open.) And that’s pretty much how it goes in the world of technology: coveted today, chucked tomorrow.

Lance Ulanoff, EIC of PCMag.com says the eReader market is no different. “Even what we know right now is going to change in a year’s time, which means that this transformative product that we just got our hands on in the last 18 months is already being pushed aside for the next transformative product.”

And, like iTunes before it, not everyone is pleased with Amazon’s pricing for eBooks. Ulanoff recalls one bestselling author who sorta grimaced when asked about having his titles on the Kindle.

Part 1: Media Beat: Lance Ulanoff Says iPad Won’t Save Publishing Industry

Part 3: Lance Ulanoff of PCMag.com Questions TechCrunch’s Review Policy

Media Beat is mediabistro.com’s interview series with the movers and shakers of the media world. View all past episodes at MediaBeat.com.

Lance Ulanoff Says iPad Won’t Save Publishing Industry

I think I have a new favorite interview subject: Lance Ulanoff of PCMag.com. Not only is this editor-in-chief incredibly easy to talk to, but he has the ability to make head-spinning, niche topics easy enough for the most technologically illiterate to understand. (Seriously, Lance. Can I call you next time my computer freezes?)

And he dropped a special piece of advice for any media folks who think their recessionary woes will end with the upcoming release of the iPad: slow down, grasshopper. “It’s a really cool device, and I know that the publishing industry has latched onto it as its savior. But this is not going to save it,” said Ulanoff. “This is going to bleed out into the marketplace relatively slowly.”

Watch the full video to find out why Ulanoff calls the early controversy over the device’s name “ridiculous” and who he thinks will be the iPad’s biggest market.

Part 2: Media Beat: Lance Ulanoff on the Constantly Changing eBook Market

Part 3: Lance Ulanoff of PCMag.com Questions TechCrunch’s Review Policy

Media Beat is mediabistro.com’s interview series with the movers and shakers of the media world. View all past episodes at MediaBeat.com.