Rounds: Franklin Frog is currently #1 in the New and Noteworthy section of the App Store in the UK and in the top 20 of the same category in the US. The visibility that those positions provide are absolutely essential in creating momentum for an app, so we’re thrilled (Rounds is also ranked #2 in the Paid Book Apps chart in the UK and #6 in the US).
There are still a few more hours remaining during which the app will be on sale at the special introductory sale price of 69p/ 99c – you can find it on the store here.
The “Make a Face” game uses the front-facing camera in the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 (or later) so that you can copy Pip and Posy’s expressions – sad, happy, laughing, everyone’s favourite – monster – and more, and then take pictures of the results. If you have an older iPad or iPhone, you can still play the game, if a second person holds your device for you.
Once you’ve struck your best pose, you can save the picture to your “Photos” folder or take a screenshot by holding down both the Home and Power buttons – and then you can enter by posting a link to the photo in the comments below, tweeting it to us @NosyCrowApps, or emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The competition closes on Sunday and Pip and Posy will be on sale on iTunes for only $0.99/ £0.69 until then! You can find the app on iTunes here.
A lot of Nosy Crow are at Bologna this week (as anyone who follows Kate on Twitter will know!) – hard at work selling rights, meeting authors, illustrators and agents, and looking for exciting new talents to add to our brilliant list. I’m back in London already, after a flying visit that lasted just long enough for me to climb the Asinelli Tower (here’s the pretty spectacular view from the top), hang out at the Nosy Crow stand on Monday (here it is immediately after being constructed by Adrian and Leen) and, most important of all, attend the Tools of Change conference on Sunday.
The View from the Asinelli Tower (photograph by Leen)
Tools of Change is a great chance to meet up with, and listen to, some of the most interesting people working in digital publishing: there were brilliant keynotes by, amongst others, Dominique Raccah, President of Sourcebooks, Junko Yokota, professor of children’s literature at National-Louis University, and a particularly inspirational (and moving) closing speech by Elizabeth Wood, Director of Digital Publishing for Worldreader, a non-profit whose mission is to make digital books available to all in the developing world.
An image from Elizabeth Wood’s incredible keynote presentation
The conference also provides a fascinating snapshot of the state of digital publishing: there are break-out sessions through-out the day, and in between attending these, hearing the keynotes, and chatting to fellow publishers over lunch, a strong impression emerges of the biggest anxieties and interests of the industry.
The pre-eminent theme of the day seemed to be, by quite some margin, discoverability – that is, how to make your digital content visible (in particularly on the app store on iTunes). There were several sessions devoted entirely to this issue (a particularly interesting – and popular – talk by Hermes Piqué, CEO of Robot Media was entitled “The Discovery Problem: Getting your Book app noticed in the App Store”, and was standing-room only), but it also came up over and over in other events on seemingly unrelated subjects. It’s not a subject confined to Tools of Change, either – the crux of the problem was articulated unimprovably at an event at BAFTA I attended last week, at which Peter Sleeman, co-director of P2 Games (which makes the Peppa Pig apps), observed that app developers are putting their products in the world’s largest shop, with the world’s smallest shop window.
And there were some interesting (though not unexpected) corollaries to this subject: apps with big brands (like Peppa Pig) are particularly valuable as they’re more easily found and parents are more likely to search for them, for instance. Piqué spoke engagingly about things like keywords, poor search functionality on iTunes (“Apple does search like Google does tablets”) and the importance of elements of app design that are often overlooked or given little thought – like an app’s icon, which, as the first thing a potential customer will see, is critically important, and should – according to Piqué – “be simple but detailed, and tell a story without words”.
After discoverability and branding, the next most-recurring topic seemed to have been cross-platform functionality. In the week in which Apple launched the next iPad, thereby maintaining its position as market leader in the tablet sector for the foreseeable future, a source of interest for a lot of publishers and developers was how seriously they ought to be treating iOS-alternatives (and how feasible it is to create multi-platform content). At the moment, our apps are only available on Apple devices, which is as much to do with issues of practicality – devoting the time to convert our existing apps for Android tablets would mean less time making brand new apps – as any other reason, but other speakers raised interesting points in favour of iOS (mostly revolving around the fact that there is simply a much larger potential market).
If anyone is interested in how the rest of the day went (and it was very interesting!) there’s a storify post made up from @NosyCrowApps’ live-tweeting of the day that you can find below – and if you were at Tools of Change, or are interested in any of these ideas, please leave your comments below!
The app has been fantastically well-received. It won the Editor’s Choice Award from Children’s Technology Review. The Guardian wrote “There’s loads of easy and satisfying interactivity in telling the story of Bizzy Bear’s farm visit … Simple interactivity creates multiple permutations of text which encourages careful listening and makes repeating the familiar activities full of surprises.” The Literary Platform said “Young children will love this app. It’s bright, fun and engaging with plenty to keep little fingers occupied.” And in the New York Times’ Gadgetwise blog, it’s described as “Full of clever talking animals and barnyard jobs that include gathering eggs, herding sheep and riding a horse. Every page has hidden surprises that support the story.”
So if you haven’t tried Bizzy Bear on the Farm yet, now’s the perfect opportunity – help us celebrate our birthday, and help Bizzy out on the farm!
The Three Little Pigs is one year old today, and to celebrate, we’ve dropped the price on iTunes from $5.99 (£3.99) to $1.99 (£1.49) for the weekend.
It was our very first app, and we’re incredibly proud of everything it’s achieved (and how far we’ve come since!). It’s received too many accolades and great reviews to mention (though they include the 2011 Editor’s Choice Award from Children’s Technology Review, being named one of “The Best Children’s Books on the iPad” by The New York Times’ Gadgetwise blog and “a masterpiece” by The Huffington Post). A birthday felt like a great opportunity to celebrate.
We followed up on The Three Little Pigs with a further two apps last year (Cinderella and Bizzy Bear on the Farm) and plan on releasing eight this year. Kate blogged about why we make apps here.
And we’d like even more people to experience and enjoy our apps – which is why we’re running this price promotion. You can buy The Three Little Pigs here on iTunes – and if you’ve enjoyed it, please share this news with anyone else you know who might like it, too.
So, Happy Birthday to The Three Little Pigs, and here’s to another exciting year of apps from all at Nosy Crow!
He argues that some things are “bought” – they’re there, and consumers find them because they meet a need without the seller soliciting the sale, and others are “sold” – no sale happens unless the seller solicits the sale.
I’ve just read the piece, and don’t have huge amounts of time to think it over in relation to books and apps (I am in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronic’s Show, the Kids @ Play summit and to pick up the KAPi award for best ebook for our Cinderella app). The examples that Seth Godin gives are at the opposite ends of a spectrum, and I don’t really think that the things that we acquire can be put into boxes of “bought” and “sold”: instead, there’s a kind of continuum of push and pull, of desire and need, of opportunity and quest.
And I think that sometimes – as in the example of the Charles Dickens biography and War Horse below – something other than, or in addition to, the seller is “soliciting” or at least prompting the sale.
There’s also, in the case of books and apps, a question of who “the seller” is. Is it the publisher? Is it the retailer? It is, perhaps, the author or creator in some cases?
But it seems to me that books are both “bought” and “sold”. If I go into Hudson News or WHS in a station or an airport before a journey, and buy a book that I have never heard of before, that book has essentially been “bought”. Yes, the fact that it’s on a table rather than a shelf, or face out on a shelf, may make me more likely to notice it. Yesterday, I did just that. I bought a copy of Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (so far, so American and good). Perhaps the “Winner of the Pullitzer Prize” badge was part of a “sell”, and, I suppose, the cover, the blurb and the review sources suggested it would be a particular kind of woman-skewed, middle-brow read that might work for me when I was a bit jet-lagged and on a plane that I knew already would be as uncomfortable and rammed as only an American Airlines (gosh, but I hate that airline) flight can be.
But when I acquired the Claire Tomalin biography of Charles Dickens (I went on to write about it here) from Amazon, I didn’t stumble upon it. That book had been “sold” to me by review coverage combined, of course, with the event of the bi-centenary of Dickens’ birth, which meant that the subject was very zeitgeisty.
I think the fact that the bricks and mortar bookshop example was an example of a book that I “bought” and the online bookshop example was an example of a book that I was “sold” is indicative of a shift that books are going through now between from “bought” to being “sold”.
At the moment, I still think most, but not all, of course, children’s books are “bought”. Of course, there are exceptions: the film of War Horse is currently “selling” War Horse.
I think that, as publishers, we need to get better at “selling” books.
It’s hard to generalise about apps. I think that, in our case, many of our apps have been “sold”, in that people have gone onto the app store looking for them because they’ve seen a great review, or read about us in a paper or magazine, or connect with us on Twitter or Facebook (and social media is, of course, one of the ways that publishers could get better at selling books too), or heard about the app from someone they know.
However, I also think that some of our apps have been “bought”, by people finding them on the app store. At the moment, one of the great challenges of the Apple App Store is how to find good apps, but being App of the Week, or being on the front page of the store or a section of the store, or showing up well in rankings hugely increases the chances of being found by consumers.
Unlike much bookshop positioning (whether online or bricks-and-mortar), you can’t pay for positioning in the Apple App Store. Apple chooses the apps it promotes. All we can do is make sure our apps are as good as they can possibly be. Oh, and it would probably help if you voted for them in the Best App Ever Awards!
I am still thinking about this, so this is a far from definitive piece of writing, but I’d be interested to know your views.
So, do you feel books are bought or sold? What’s your own experience? Is it different from what you think other people’s experience is?
Do you feel apps are bought or sold? What’s your own experience, if you’re an app buyer? Is it different from what you think other people’s experience is?
Just in time for the release of our brand new Bizzy Bear on the Farm app, Cinderella, our second 3D fairytale app, is now on the front page of the “Apps for Kids” section of the iTunes App Store in the US. We’re really happy with the recognition it’s received all over the world, and it’s in excellent company here, alongside Sesame Street and Bartleby’s Book of Buttons.
So, thank you once again to everyone who’s bought the app and enjoyed it so much!
‘Tis the season to be jolly… and to join in the fun (or stress, if that’s your take) of holiday gift-giving.
A number of our Cinderella and Three Little Pigs app fans have emailed us asking how to send an app for iPad or iPhone as a Christmas gift. We’re happy to help.
So we interrupt this blog post for a quick tutorial on How To Gift An App.
Step 1: Find the page in iTunes of the app you’d like to give
On each app page there is a small arrow beside the Buy/Download button beneath the app icon.
Step 2: Click the arrow
Clicking or tapping the arrow, displays a drop-down list. Select “Gift This App.”
Step 3: Enter details for Recipient and Sender
Use the radio button at the top of the Gift Form to email the gift directly to the recipient or print it to send it yourself. Then enter the contact details and your gift message. Click Continue to proceed.
Step 4: Pay and proceed
If you aren’t signed in to iTunes you’ll be prompted to do so. If you are, you’ll confirm your purchase and receive an email confirmation. If you’ve chosen to print the gift, you’ll have the option to Save and Print from your computer. If you’re emailing your Gift App, the email will be sent.
Please note, on iTunes, you can only give users in your country gifts — so keep that in mind, especially if you have more than one iTunes account.
So that’s it. Giving an app is a solid alternative to using iTunes Gift Cards if you just want to buy someone a certain application.
Today’s a big day for all of us at Nosy Crow: our The Three Little Pigs app app is the Number 1 New and Noteworthy app in the UK App Store. It’s on the homepage! This is a real recognition of the app’s quality and innovation. The Three Little Pigs is Nosy Crow’s first app, and it has already been reviewed amazingly well, as you’ll see from the list of reviews in the Media Mentions section of our Media Kit page.
The Three Little Pigs has
appeared on the home pages of 12 continental European countries already it’s great to see it here in the UK App Store. Not only is the UK a really important market for our apps, but it is also “our” store: the one we buy our apps in ourselves.
The app also tops the “What’s Hot” list in book apps on the UK store:
We’ve got some exciting apps news to share. The German version of The Three Little Pigs app hit the App Store late last week, published by our co-edition partner, Carlsen and it’s already topping the charts.
Not only is Die drei kleinen Schweinchen listed in New and Notable, as of today, the iPad and iPhone versions are featured on the App Store homepage in both Germany and Austria. And the iPad version is currently the highest grossing paid app in the Books section (image above). Hooray!
There have also been several nice reviews in the German press and blogs. Here’s one example.
It’s funny to think that we didn’t include music in our initial plans for The Three Little Pigs. Back then, we didn’t know how much it would underscore the story’s drama and the characters’ personalities. Thanks to Robin Beanland, now Three Little Pigs app enthusiasts everywhere are humming along as they read. By day, Robin works in the games industry creating audio and composing music for Rare Ltd as their audio director. In his spare time, he’s the man behind the music of The Three Little Pigs app. We thought you might like to know more.
What sort of work have you done in the past? Have you ever made music for an app?
I’ve been composing music for video games for the past 17 years. Prior to that I wrote music for TV with a smattering of session work on various albums and library CDs. I can honestly say this is the first children’s book I’ve written music for.
How did you get involved with The Three Little Pigs app?
Ed Bryan called me just before Christmas and asked if I would be interested in writing some music for a project he was working on. If memory serves correctly, I think I replied something along the lines of “I thought you’d never ask.” ☺
Did you use real instruments to make the music or is it digitally generated?
I played a bit of trumpet and harmonica, the rest of the score was generated using sampled versions of traditional orchestral instruments.
What sort of feelings were you trying to evoke with the music?
The first thing I wanted to do was to write a tune that was upbeat, positive and friendly. I wanted the tune to allow me to introduce the personalities of the three main characters. This is the first piece of music you hear on the title screen of the app and it’s one of the main themes that runs throughout.
Next I focused on the wolf. I didn’t want anything too scary but I still wanted the music to be ever so slightly menacing. I wanted it to be something that I could have fun with. I think this comes across in the scenes where the wolf is chasing the pigs down the road and at the climax of the story where I use ‘laughing’ woodwinds and wah trumpet.
Why did you make each character have unique music?
I wanted to use the music as a tool for reinforcing each character’s personality. I chose certain instruments to help make that happen. So you have whistle, piccolo and banjo for the little pigs and contra bassoon and bass clarinet for the wolf. I think listening to Peter and the Wolf as a child probably influenced my decisions about which instruments to use for each of the characters in The Three Little Pigs.
What was the most challenging thing about working on this project?
To be honest the biggest challenge was the amount of time I had to get the music written! The project fell around the Christmas period and an unusually busy January. I did have a nice view from the studio window to inspire me though.
What was the most fulfilling part of working on this app?
For me it was the interactive music. I wanted the music to change as children tapped on different parts of the screen and on the characters. When I initially suggested this to Will he said we didn’t have time to implement it. But within hours I got an email from him saying “Actually I think we can do it!” A few days later Ed and Will popped round with the latest version of the app and Will had worked his magic. I remember giggling as he tapped the pigs and we heard their individual melodies fade up. It was brilliant!
Our first app, The Three Little Pigs is available on iPad (there’s a Lite version too), and will be available on iPhone in the first week of March.
The gestation was longer and more complicated than we’d thought, but I really think the result was even better than we’d hoped.
We thought it was great… but we would, wouldn’t we?
What’s been very encouraging, is that, already, after just a day or so, other people seem to think so too. We’ve just had our very first online reviews:
Pad Gadget wrote: “Do your kids act like the Big Bad Wolf and try to huff and puff and blow the house down? If so, give them the perfect iPad app and let them go to town. A new version of The Three Little Pigs app just hit the App Store and kids will love it… If you and your kids love an entertaining app with lots of interactive features, this version of The Three Little Pigs is a wonderful choice
Fun Educational Apps wrote: “The version [of The Three Little Pigs] from Nosy Crow, is simply one of these app you need to have.There are just so many plus points with this app; the best is for you to give it a try. Here at Fun Educational Apps, we all loved it and are really looking forward to see more apps from Nosy Crow.“
Digital Storytime wrote: “[The Three Little Pigs] is interactive in unique and fun ways that make the story feel more ‘alive’ than any other ebook I’ve read with my chid… It’s a multi-media reading experience you and your kids won’t soon forget.”
The Literary Platform wrote: “on opening the app, I found myself thinking, ‘well if you can’t get this digital publishing thing right, what hope for others?’ Thankfully Kate and her talented team have got it right… The voices of child narrators are beautifully complemented by original music (adding real drama to the chase scenes) and a flurry of inventive iPad features.”
Kid Lit wrote: “What an app this is! It’s Nosy Crow’s Three Little Pigs, A 3-D Fairy Tale… This is a breathtaking app with beautiful art and really rich user interface.”
IPhone and Kids Forum wrote: “This app features sophisticated animation, original interactive music, child narrators and hundreds of interactive touch points. Kids will want to read it again and again. It’s never the same twice.”
There was a great and positive buzz on Twitter too, with lots of positive mentions for @nosycrow and @nosycrowapps (we tweet using both). We even had a hashtag spring up.
On the App Stores int the UK and US, there are already several reviews (for the Lite and the Full versions:
Awesome – ★★★★★
by Summer dolly – Version 1.0 – 16 February 2011
Best kids’ storybook I have seen on app store. Looks amazing, and just makes you smile on every page. My 7 year old picked it up and engaged straight away, and I loved it just as much. Bought the lite version to try it and loved that, but the proper version is at just a whole new level. Not cheap, but for once, an app that’s worth the money.
Brilliant app for kids! – ★★★★★
by Emma Wells – Version 1.0 – 16 February 2011
Wow, this takes children’s apps to a whole new level! My children, 5 and 9 years, love The Three Little Pigs App. There is so much going on and they find something new every time they use it. Easy to navigate, great to look at and really good fun. Highly recommended.
Best interactive story app – ★★★★★
by Rebecca Smart – Version 1.0 – 17 February 2011
From the professional opening animation to the end of the story this interactive picture book app is wonderful. Easy to use, beautiful and clever artwork and animation. Lots of lovely details which give a sense of a great deal of care and attention having gone into this work. Natural children’s voices provide narration. Fun interaction with the characters throughout. Best children’s story app I’ve seen.
An immersive, entertaining and charming pop-up – ★★★★★
by Lylers – Version 1.0 – 18 February 2011
There are some pretty tough app critics in my house, but The Three Little Pigs got a unanimous thumbs-up! The 3D technology is so immersive, you really feel like you’re going on the journey with them! We loved the subtle and fun interactions like the spider. If you want an iPad book that can KEEP them entertained and engaged, I highly recommend this kids’ app.
A beautiful, playful, interactive experience – ★★★★★
by Harry Robinson – Version 1.0 – 18-Feb-2011
This is quite simply the most charming rendition of The Three Little Pigs that I have ever experienced. The illustration is stunning, the music delightful and the overall package a sublime use of the iPad’s strengths. An absolute must-buy for anyone with children or for someone seeking to reignite their inner child.
Perfect – ★★★★★
by Lev Parikian – Version 1.0 – 19-Feb-2011
My son’s review: “It’s great!”
My review: This app gets it right in every way. Children reading the story, fantastic illustrations, great and fun animations, hidden stuff that you don’t discover until you’ve read it a couple of times, excellent music. Nosy Crow haven’t put a foot wrong with this – look forward to more great ones in the future.
Charming and fun – ★★★★★
by Tania:) – Version 1.1 – 19-Feb-2011
The classic Three Little Pigs story gets a makeover in ths delightful app by Nosy Crow. Packed with goregous illustrations, charming voiceovers and plenty of interactive fun, this is everything an app should be. We especially enjoyed helping the wolf blow the houses down and spotting the rabbit, but there are plenty of other hidden exras.
With options to read and play, read alone or have the story read out loud, The Three Little Pigs is perfect for confident readers as well as the more reluctant reader. A big thumbs-up from me and my daughter.
The Lite and the Full versions are currently number 1 and 2 on the UK App Store’s book section of New and Noteworthy apps, as you can see from the picture.