IPG Children's Publisher of the Year

Turn your favourite photos into jigsaws with Nosy Crow!

Posted by Tom on Nov 27, 2014

On Monday we blogged about an upcoming update for the Nosy Crow Jigsaws app, with a big new feature… and today it’s available on the App Store!

As well as featuring hundreds of ready-made jigsaws using beautiful artwork from our books and apps, the new version of the app also allows you to make jigsaws from ANY of your own photos. Any images saved in the Camera Roll of your iPad or iPhone can be turned into jigsaws and used like any of the existing artwork in the app – you can turn your pictures into puzzles from 4 to 300 pieces.

The new feature is available as an in-app purchase for $4.99/ £2.99 – and once you’ve unlocked it, you can make unlimited jigsaws from your photos. To unlock the new feature, navigate to the Make a Purchase menu accessible from the icon that appears in the top right of the screen once you’ve selected any jigsaw.

We’re incredibly excited about this new feature: now you can turn your holiday snaps, your children’s artwork, and your favourite family photos into jigsaws to share and play with – it’s lots of fun. And you can share the jigsaws you’ve made on Twitter, Facebook, and by email with our integrated Social Share options – we’d love to see what jigsaws you’ve created, so do send us yours to @NosyCrowApps on Twitter or on our Facebook page!

Here’s a quick look at the new feature:

You can download Nosy Crow Jigsaws from the App Store here – we hope you enjoy the app!

"Just keep swimming" - persistence and running a small publishing business

Posted by Kate on Nov 26, 2014

Yesterday, I wrote about winning the Young Company of the Year award at the Growing Business Awards. It’s one of those moments when you feel – really – privileged to be part of a community of small business owners and managers, and when you’re struck by the enthusiasm and expertise they bring to things that might not seem in any way glamorous or even interesting.

Running a small business can be great, and days when you win awards make you love it unreservedly. I am happier owning and managing a small, independent business than I was working for a conglomerate. But when I think about running a small business the image that comes into my head is often one of swimming. I say “image” but it is sort of more of a feeling. I feel, as, as I think about the day ahead, or the business trip ahead, or the meeting or presentation ahead, that it’s going to be like swimming in the sea off the UK. It’s something I’ve 100% chosen to do, it’s challenging and it’s exhilarating, but it’s quite cold, and a little bit dangerous, and I have a sense of being in an element I can’t entirely know or predict. It’s an effort, but it probably looks less effortful from a distance. There are waves, some bigger than others, and there are currents to negotiate, and sometimes it’s hard to keep sight of land or where I am going.

In explaining this, I am making it seem much more of an intellectual metaphor than it seems to me to be when the image/feeling comes into my head. At the time, I just think of myself as doggedly swimming and don’t deconstruct the image/feeling at all.

The image/feeling is about persistence, of course. And, though I am not a huge fan of motivational quotes, I do like this from Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” When we talk about Nosy Crow’s business in our blog posts, we inevitably talk a lot about the good bits of running a small independent publishing business: the books we’ve managed to acquire; the deals done; the high sales ranking; the prizes won. We don’t, really, talk about our failures, disappointments and annoyances. But, big and small, they happen: times that sales don’t meet our hopes or even our expectations; times when books emerge from production late or faulty; the times that cash is really tight; the times that the author or illustrator can’t (or, infrequently, won’t) make the changes to the book that we believe would make it even better; the promotional slots we aim for but don’t get; the experienced and great picture book designers we look for but can’t find to employ; the constant battle with the publishing schedule and the need to move books and apps because we don’t have finished material when we hoped we would; the emails from editors outside the UK telling us that, despite their enthusiasm for the project at Frankfurt, they’ve been unable to persuade their sales team to take on one of our books in translation; the handful of books that, despite our enthusiasm, get sold to another publisher; the times we don’t win the award.

Earlier this year, Daniel Menaker allowed us to quote in a blog post from his memoir a section detailing the challenges of corporate publishing culture. Nosy Crow is free of many of the specific frustrations he details, but that sense of how challenging, and sometimes rather arbitrary, publishing and business life can be rang true to me. And his marine metaphor – a shipping one, not a swimming one, but still… – rang true too: “Somehow, by luck or word of mouth, these books navigate round the rocks and reefs upon which most of their fleet – even sturdy vessels – founder.”

When I am cycling to work, or on my way to the airport for a business trip (within the last seven weeks I have been in as many cities outside the UK: Frankfurt, Cannes, Boston, New York, Harlem (in The Netherlands), Shenzhen and Shanghai), or going through the door to the big meeting or presentation, the theme tune that runs through my head to accompany my swimming image/feeling is Dory’s song from Finding Nemo, which was released on DVD, or maybe video, when my children were tiny and was a huge favourite of theirs. It feels a bit grandiose to lay claim to a Winston Churchill quote as my business mantra, so maybe I’ll settle for Dory’s “Just keep swimming.”

It’s a good thing I like wild swimming.

Nosy Crow wins Young Company of the Year award at the Growing Business Awards

Posted by Kate on Nov 26, 2014

Last night, Nosy Crow was awarded the Young Company of the Year Award at the Growing Business Awards last night.

The gold envelope and the card inside it that I nicked from the podium

The Growing Business Awards are managed by Real Business and the CBI in association with Lloyds Bank, and, as they say, they celebrate the very best of British business and the entrepreneurs that power some of the fastest-growing UK companies. The awards are in their 16th year. 63 companies were shortlisted by 25 business leader judges for 12 awards.

In the Young Company of the Year Award category, sponsored by Citroen, Nosy Crow won against Lovespace, the self-storage business; Anesco, a provider of energy efficiency services; Captify, an advertising tech firm; cement manufacturers Hope Construction Materials; and ProperCorn, the upmarket popcorn brand.

The judges praised Nosy Crow’s creativity and innovation, but I wasn’t, of course, able to jot down what they said about us as I went up to the award (I went on my own: the tickets were spenny), so, rather embarrassingly, I will have to quote what they said in the printed guide to the awards about me, rather than the company: “Kate Wilson is an exceptional entrepreneur. Her extreme focus and maximum personal effort is evident in everything she does.” I came back from the Frankfurt Book Fair for 12 hours for the shortlist interviews, which took place on 9 October 2014.

This is Nosy Crow’s third business award in as many months: on 3 September, Nosy Crow was named Nectar Business Small Business of the Year; and on October 6 Nosy Crow was named one of the Smarta100 companies – the 100 most resourceful, inspiring and disruptive small businesses in the UK.

I know that I’ve said this about our other business awards over the last few months, but at a time when press coverage of the publishing business is full of gloom and doom, it’s a great triumph not just for Nosy Crow, but I sort of feel for the industry, to win against such a strong and varied shortlist. Winning industry-specific awards is GREAT, but there’s something special about being recognised in a wider arena.

And winning is, of course, a great tribute to Nosy Crow’s staff and to our authors and illustrators, and makes us all the more grateful for the support of our many customers in the UK and elsewhere.

The Award on the messy, post-dinner table

When I accepted the award, I talked about my sense, as a corporate refugee, of privilege about being welcomed into the world of small, entrepreneurial business. I am endlessly impressed and intrigued by the ways that people find to make money for themselves and for others; to employ other people; and to delight their customers. I sat next to a lovely man whose company lays temporary aluminium roads for festivals and film sets among other things. He talked about his motivation – “loving my customers” – just as we talk about our motivations: to make and market great books and apps that children will want to return to and that parents will trust.

Comedian Ed Byrne did something for Nosy Crow that he didn’t do for any of the other winners: he said to the audience that, when he’d met me earlier (I’d gone in error to the VIP drinks reception instead of the normal one – don’t ask…) he hadn’t known what company I came from but that he and his kids knew and loved Nosy Crow books, so it was great that we’d got the prize.

All of the Real Business Awards winners