Random House To Try Publishing via Cell Phone

A partnership between publisher Random House and Vocel, amobile application start-up based in San Diego, is designed to deliver language lessons and videogame guides to mobile phone subscribers.

The agreement, announced today, gives Random House aminority interest in Vocel. Vocel gains the right to use Random House’sLiving Language and Prima Game brands and content.

“This gives us the ability to rapidly expand the markets that we’re able toaddress and to increase the breadth that we can bring to market,” Vocel CEOCarl Washburn told TechNewsWorld.

Off the Page

Random House will get two representatives on Vocel’s board, but will not beinvolved in day-to-day operations. The publisher saw the deal as a way toexpand beyond printed offerings.

“When Random House saw that we were able to take what was thought of asstraight book content and repurpose it, that was very interesting to them,”Washburn said. “They thought of themselves as a straight publisher.”

Vocel already licenses Princeton Review test preparation materials, which are availableon six phone models through Verizon. Princeton Review is owned by Random House.

The SAT drills are delivered to cell phones,where students can answer the questions and see their scores. The resultscan be saved to a Web site, so that the students or their parents can trackprogress.

The RandomHouse deal will allow Vocel to expand to mobile service providers beyond Verizonas well as to add content, Washburn said.

Vocabulary by Phone

The Living Language application delivers words, phrases and sentences forstudy. Most of the content is in text form, but the program also offers thecorrect pronunciation. Washburn said ESL (English as a second language) andSpanish lessons will be the first offered.

Prima Games is the publisher of video game guides. The mobile content willinclude game strategy, hints and cheat codes.

The content is expected to be available this summer.

Washburn said the deal, for which terms were not disclosed, will also allowVocel to license Princeton Review content for tests such as the GMAT, GREand LSAT.

Verizon sells subscriptions to Vocel’s service for $5.75 a month through itsonline catalog, which is accessible through its phones.

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