What? A new Storybird?

by Mark on October 25, 2012


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.

Free to Be turns 40

by Storybird on October 22, 2012

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.”

Slate celebrates the 40th anniversary of Free to Be You and Me with a feature article on how the album came together and the impact it’s had on society.


The movie alphabet

by Mark on October 10, 2012

Meagan Hyland made movie posters for the alphabet. A is for awesome.

October 5

by Storybird on October 5, 2012

We can always remember the things we never forget.

We are the introverts. Hear us mumble.

by Mark on September 26, 2012

Grant Snider’s comic posters are clever and bookish. What more could you want?

Meow x 100

by Storybird on September 3, 2012

100 Cats (and possibly some squirrels) by Willie Real via Drawn.

Painted book sculptures

by Mark on August 19, 2012

Mike Stilkey paints on books, to great effect.

You’ve got mail.

by Laszlo on August 5, 2012

Who wouldn’t want mail from Maurice Sendak or Edward Gorey?

Happy Valentine.

by Storybird on July 26, 2012

We know it’s not Valentine’s day. But this lovely illo from Yoko Tanji makes it so, no?

Not sleepless. Tireless.

by Mark on June 26, 2012

SALLY: Well, if you must know, it was because he was very jealous, and I had these days of the week underpants.

HARRY: Ehhhh. I’m sorry. I need the judges ruling on this. “Days of the weeks underpants”?

SALLY: Yes. They had the days of the week on them, and I thought they were sort of funny. And then one day Sheldon says to me, “You never wear Sunday.” It was all suspicious. Where was Sunday? Where had I left Sunday? And I told him, and he didn’t believe me.

HARRY: What?

SALLY: They don’t make Sunday.

HARRY: Why not?

SALLY: Because of God.

RIP Nora.