RIP Roger. Gene is waiting in the balcony, popcorn in hand. More.
Today we’re launching a beta of Poetry, a new web app that’s integrated into the Storybird experience. It’s our first major product since introducing the picture book format.
Poetry is insanely easy to use, loads of fun, and absolutely gorgeous. You choose artwork, slide words onto the canvas, and publish your image. The whole process takes less than a minute on your phone or tablet.
Here are some examples:
Try it yourself: head over to Create, choose some art, and select “For Poetry” when you tap “Use this Art”.
We’re super excited about Poetry for several reasons.
1. Fits on a phone, so that our members can use it anywhere. We want visual storytelling everywhere, because people and their stories are everywhere.
2. An even simpler storytelling format. Stories are hard to write and take time! Poetry is short and sweet. We used the same creative constraints for Poetry as we did with books: you can do only one thing, but that one thing is fantastic.
3. Poems are hyper social and look great on Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Your friends, family, and fans can easily read, share, and embed them.
4. They’re stunning. Poetry scales from the phone to the desktop (an AMAZING engineering and aesthetic feat from the team) to ensure the art looks great. It uses the same colour algorithms as our book covers and includes a light transparency on the word vessels, which makes the final compositions elegant and rich.
5. As with books and artwork comments, Poetry is designed to be family friendly. The word sets are fixed and were developed by a seasoned book editor from one of the Big Six publishing houses to enable creative expression without creative maligning.
Poetry is in open beta for the next few months as we study how it behaves. (It isn’t yet available for school accounts, but will be eventually.) Give it a try and send us your feedback via email, Twitter, or on our feedback forum. We’d love to hear what you think.
Happiest of days from all of us at Storybird. May there be peace, love, and chocolate in 2013.
We’ve been quiet for the last few months as we work on relaunching Storybird. Now that we’re a few weeks from the release, it’s time for a bit of noise. Or, at the very least, a sneak peek.
Here’s what we’ve been up to…
1. Technology: We removed Flash from the service and rewrote the editor and player in HTML to make them available through the browser on any device or OS. The editor was completely redesigned for touch and works as well on an iPad as it does on the desktop. Same with the player: you’ll be able to read stories on any smartphone.
Here’s the new editor on the desktop, followed by a video of it on the iPad:
Here’s a screenshot of the new player, and a short video of it on an iPhone:
Staying in the browser and working in HTML also opens up language and character set options. Flash prevented us from offering anything other than Latin characters. Now, writers can work with any language their browser supports: Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Arabic, etc. Take a look…
2. Engagement: We’ve introduced an asynchronous Following/Follower model (look it up), visual feed, and notification system that enables greater interaction and community. Currently, Storybird members rely on a fairly crude system of interaction—literally creating manual username lists to visit each other’s stories and comment. Now, you’ll be able to follow any writer or artist and see their work as it appears in your dashboard. Conversely, you’ll be able to build up followers and syndicate your stories instantly. This is great for friends, family, and classmates, but it’s huge for professional writers and artists who use Storybird to market and sell their work.
We’ve also added a layer of granularity to relationships. The new system supports your typical “friends I made on Storybird”, but adds in-real-life connections. IRL Connections can find, read, and comment on your work before it’s moderated, making the process of creation/consumption instantaneous.
Here’s a snapshot of your feed…
3. Membership: We’ve built a Membership package that provides faster story moderation; PDF archiving; customization/personalization of profiles, book covers, etc; and expanded social tools. We’ll add more to Membership over time, but this is our starting point.
Here are some covers, followed by a profile that’s been modified with a new theme…
4. Categorization: We’ve introduced 19 new categories to organize stories and art into specific channels. Romance, Action/Adventure, Humor… you’ll now be able to dive into your favorite topics and find the best stories and artists in that theme. We’ve also added age filtering to the Explore page and search. Want a story for tweens about bullying in school? Romance serials for tweens? Life Lessons for kids? Tap, tap…and you’re done.
5. Design. While we were able to craft an experience that millions of people admired during our 2-year open beta, it didn’t reflect the scope of our ambition. The relaunched Storybird is closer to our vision: an elegant platform that enables anyone to tell visual stories and distribute it to any device, easily and artfully. Every pixel has been rethought and the resulting interactions, flows, and aesthetic cues are just lovely.
Here’s a snapshot of the new Create page, complete with algorithmic grids and endless scrolling…
That’s it for now. Stay tuned.
Hart visited Thomas at her apartment on East 71st, where Thomas showed her the material she’d collected so far: a handful of books from Ursula Nordstrom’s authors and a few stories that Pogrebin had plucked from her daughters’ bookshelves. Hart, like Thomas and Pogrebin, was unimpressed. “I have always had a feeling,” Hart says, “that children are really smart and that we shouldn’t ever underestimate their taste or their intelligence. And so I said to Marlo: ‘I don’t think these materials are ambitious enough.’ ” Hart laughs. “That was like lighting a firecracker under Marlo. Me? Not ambitious enough?! I said, ‘I think we should just create the materials ourselves.’” Pogrebin agreed: “It’s not in the books. We had better create a genre that doesn’t exist.”
Grant Snider’s comic posters are clever and bookish. What more could you want?