A new Storybird identity.

by Mark on August 13, 2014

Meet the new Storybird.

Seventy percent fowl, 20 percent once and future king, and 10 percent derp, our new mascot replaces the much loved icon that has graced Storybird since our launch.

See, we kept running into a little problem:

People confuse us with Twitter everyday. Even though our pudgy budgie predates Twitter’s up-and-to-the-right bird-in-flight, and even though ours is a clever trompe l’oeil made up entirely of apostrophes—we’re pretty keen on standing out from the crowd. “Birds of a feather flock together” has never been our thing. We like being different.

So we bid farewell to our original Storybird and went back to the drawing board.

First there was origami bird, inspired by our Art Director Tyler’s son who is currently going through a paper folding craze. We found OB breathtaking, but a bit sharp. Possibly harsh.

Next came the comment bubble/book/bird mark. Working from a brief from our cofounder Kaye, Tyler developed this mark to symbolize community, books, and, natch, a bird. It was clever and extensible, but we eventually abandoned it because it lacked personality.

Personality was, in fact, at the heart of our search. We wanted whatever replaced our inaugural icon to have character. To BE a character.

Enter Sam Dallyn, a UK designer we’ve known for years. We explained our situation to Sam and a couple of weeks later he produced “Owl”.

Owl was cute. Owl sat on a perch overlooking our name. And our name now included an intriguing use of period marks to replace the stems of the “r”.

But Owl felt a bit young for us. We debated this for a week and in the interim Hootsuite rebranded. Owl was out.

We asked Sam to have another go. “More character!” we said. Kaye, inspired by the story of the Swan Princess, asked him to try a bird with a crown.

“Why a crown?”

“Backstory. A crown tells a story.”

“What story?”

“That’s the whole point. We don’t say. We let people fill in the blanks.”

And so this cheeky little fellow entered our life. We’ve lived with him for a month now, pecking away at different scenarios: our web app, our new iOS apps, posters, book covers. We like him. A lot.

And that little Twitter problem? No longer a problem.

Naturally, we fussed with the typography. Thick, thin, Futura, News Gothic…

Then Tyler pulled out HF&J’s Gotham and made this:

…and we were done.

Despite his origins, our little Storybird is still a bit of a mystery. A bird of intrigue. What is his backstory? Why is he wearing that crown? Does he have a name?

You tell us.

 

 

 

Nate the Great.

by Mark on August 5, 2014

We are excited to announce the appointment of Nate Sawatzky as Head of Community Operations.

Community operations plays the critical role of overseeing moderation, community interactions, and our volunteer Storyspotting team. As we’ve grown to millions of members, processing the sheer volume of comments, books, and interactions requires an understanding of machine learning, systems, and scalability—something Nate brings to us after six years with Club Penguin and two years at Sift software, leaders in mod-focused machine learning.

Nate’s been consulting with us for the last month and joins us officially this week. To say we are thrilled is an understatement. Several of us developed carpal tunnel moderating comments and books in Storybird’s early days, and Kaye literally fell asleep with her face on the keyboard, the letters leaving a slight imprint on her cheeks for hours after. We enthusiastically welcome our new software overlords.

More seriously, we are excited to continue scaling our community while keeping it safe, supportive, and inclusive for the writers, artists, families, and schools that depend on us everyday.

Welcome Nate!

We’re giddy to announce that Guinevere de la Mare has joined Storybird to lead community programs.

Guinevere joins us from Chronicle Books (Chronicle Books!) where she single-handedly built their social media and blog channels into one of the most respected in the industry. She’s overseen their affiliate marketing and outreach programs, including their highly successful Give Books campaign, and is a much sought after speaker, having presented at Alt Summit, Social Media Week NYC, and O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishers.

A writer and editor, Guinevere is also trained in visual arts and holds a BA in Art History from U.C. Berkeley and a Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies from California College of the Arts. With our focus on art + words, this was the pink icing on the artisanal cupcake.

Guinevere will work with Head of Editorial Molly O’Neill on Storybird’s social media outreach, internal community events, and a global program for writers and artists that rolls out in 2015. Her focus will be to bring the outside world into Storybird, and vice versa, both online and offline. Importantly, she resides in San Francisco, a strategic location for Storybird as it gives her unfettered access to TCHO and Dandelion chocolate and completes the triumvirate with Molly and Nick in Brooklyn near Mast Brothers and Kaye and me in Toronto close to SOMA.

Conche aside, we are thrilled to have Guinevere join our almost 20-person team. We continue to grow our programs and tools to support writers, artists, readers, educators, and families worldwide, and G’s cheeky, artful sensibilities will only help broaden our ambitions and results.

Welcome, lady of the lake.

Photo: Sarah Deragon

Hand-made stories need hand-made cards.

by Storybird on May 18, 2014

Want to tell someone you REALLY love them? Hand cut your cards. It’ll only take two months.

 

We’re thrilled to announce the launch of longform books on Storybird.

Longform is a new story format, ideal for writers and artists looking to serialize their books and build an audience, educators with students looking to master narrative skills, and readers who want to stay engaged with stories and characters over time.

Longform stories can be lengthy novels serialized into multiple chapters or a short story on a single page. They can include art interspersed throughout the story or just on covers. Writers will find them flexible and as easy-to-use as our award-winning picture book format.

Readers love the new format. It’s easy to read on a phone and notifications alert them when new chapters are published. That’s important for professional authors looking to build readership or students getting peer feedback.

We’re equally excited to announce the beta of Storybird Creative Partners and the first slate of authors and stories built atop the longform format. We’re working with ten entrepreneurial writers, artists, and agents to bring readers a wide range of exciting fiction and to study new forms of serialization, distribution, and commercialization. We’ll be adding new authors each season; professional writers and agents can learn more about the program in our FAQ.

Longform is available throughout Storybird but in beta for classrooms. Teachers can experiment with v1.0 now and expect full school integration by summer.

The first chapter of Storybird was written with picture books: 10 million and counting. With longform and our Creative Partners Program, we’re excited to usher in the next chapter and our vision to be the Scholastic of the 21st century—providing the tools and platform for writers, artists, and readers to create and share stories that entertain, educate, and inspire.

Longform Launch Writers & Artists

Alone in a Crowded Place by Bruce Wishart, art by Elizabeth Baddeley

The Archer Chronicles: Lost Boy by J.A. Stone, art by Claudio Cerri

Breaking the Code by deepfried_freak, art by Aleksei Bitskoff

The B.U.L.L.Y Club by figment68, art by Sam Wedelich

Elle McGraw: Teen Millionaire by Kay Cassidy, art by Justine Formentelli

The Endsister by Penni Russon, art by Victoria Usova

The Mystery of Dogwood Cross by Eliza Osborn, art by Ingvard the Terrible

The Shadow Gate by Myra McEntire, art by Alina Chau

Some Pig in the City by Jodi Kendall, art by Katy Betz

The Wrong Side of the River by Wen Baragrey and Natalie Bahm, art by Aleksei Bitskoff

Our response to the Heartbleed vulnerability

by Storybird on April 10, 2014

On Monday April 7 it was announced that an important technology that protects information on the internet had been compromised. The codename for this vulnerability is Heartbleed.

To use a metaphor, Heartbleed is the equivalent of laying the keys to everyone’s homes on their doorsteps. If found, those keys could then be used to enter the home and steal valuable information.

A fix for the problem (known as a “patch”) was announced soon after the news. Major online services immediately began applying the patch so they could hide the keys and stop anyone from entering their homes.

Storybird was among the first responders and made immediate changes to ensure Heartbleed would not affect our members. In fact, you may have noticed some bumpy sessions over the last few days because we were hard at work.

Given our quick response, and after reviewing the problem, we have seen no evidence that Storybird or our members were affected by Heartbleed. However, as a precaution, we have logged everyone out of the system which will require that you sign-back in on your next visit.

We also recommend you change your password—on Storybird and ALL other services you use (make sure they’ve first fixed the problem on their site. If you change your password before they fix it, you’ll have to change it again after their fix).

Also, now might be a good time to invest in a password manager like 1Password, LastPass, or iCloud Keychain. They solve a lot of headaches.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions on this issue.

The National Department of Poetry

by Mark on March 20, 2014

Grant Snider is the American Tom Gauld.

Ladybird Books meets Modern Art

by Mark on February 26, 2014

British artist and designer Miriam Elia skewers modern art in a whimsical new book funded by her Kickstarter.

We’re new to Miriam and her goofy/charming/witty ways. She’s on full display in this interview if you want to see more.

Incidentally, she’s not the first to subvert Ladybird Books.

Disney characters, Leibovitzed

by Mark on February 8, 2014

Annie Leibovitz’s photos are themselves iconic, so it’s fun to see her interpret iconic Disney characters using celebrities. These images recently surfaced and are stunning.

Jessica Chastain as Merida from Brave.

Rachel Weisz as Snow White.

Taylor Swift as Rapunzel.

Queen Latifah as Ursula from The Little Mermaid. See the entire set.

Storybird Gift Cards.

by Kaye on December 17, 2013

We just launched E-Gift Cards for Premium Membership.

If you’re an adult, you can buy one and 12-month cards for the writer in your life. Premium Membership unlocks a world of awesome tools, like unlimited downloads, custom covers, emoticons, 2-day moderation for public stories, and, best of all, unlimited poetry with our fab Poetry app.

If you’re under 18, you can ask your parents for a Premium Membership gift card. We’ll send them an email with details on how to buy one.

Hats off to Ben, Paul, and Tyler  for the tool. Soon, we’ll add denominations like $25, $50, etc so you can give e-gift cards for ANY Storybird purchase (like buying books).