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Posted by Will, January 13, 2015

Surviving on the App Store

It is with some sadness that I read this week that Kirkus Reviews will no longer be featuring any book apps – because they feel that there’s not enough digital innovation taking place any more:

“In an environment in which a $2.99 – $3.99 price point is the norm, it’s hard to make both a profit and a great interactive book at the same time”.

And while we wouldn’t entirely agree with this idea ourselves, you can see their point. The empowering, democratic principles on which the App Store is built – allowing almost anyone to create and distribute their own content – mean that, like other digital self-publishing platforms that do not face the same constraints, and curatorial necessities, of physical shops, it is awash with almost identical products for each and every category, whether it is clones of Flappy Birds or learn to read ABC apps. App templates for these are widely available and in some cases a ‘new’ app can be submitted to Apple in a matter of minutes. Some weeks there are dozens of new ABC apps alone, all providing pretty much the same interactivity as the old ones. As Steve Jobs said “We don’t need any more fart apps”.

At Nosy Crow we have always strived to produce the best app we can, not just another clone! Come February, our The Three Little Pigs app will be four years old, yet it still stands out amongst all the Three Little Pig based apps as one of the best. Kirkus says:

“The very best digital narratives are hand-coded, tailoring interactivity to each individual story.”

This is what I joined Nosy Crow to do, plain and simple. This is what the whole apps team at Nosy Crow does on a daily basis. We have the luxury of really enjoying the work we do and our passion to produce the best app we can means doing it the hard way.

When we choose which app to make next, we look for the opportunities for new types of fun interactivity it might offer up; Blowing on the device to help the wolf destroy the straw house, guiding the spider through the web to Little Red Riding Hood’s basket, jumping Jack back and forth as he escapes the reach of the angry giant on the beanstalk. These all take time to design, illustrate, animate, code and compose, which is why our fairy tale apps are all $4.99. You’ve probably never noticed how the music blends seamlessly in our fairy tale apps as you interact with it. The most beautiful soundtracks go unnoticed.

We cannot compete in the race to the bottom, but we do not want to. The race to the bottom would kill off the passion we have for our jobs. Four years ago my father asked how we would sell our Three Little Pigs app, when a quick search of the App Store showed there were already at least 30 apps with similar names. I already knew my response “People won’t search for ‘Three Little Pigs’, they’ll be searching for ‘Nosy Crow’”.

So thank you very much, Kirkus, for all of your thoughtful reviews of our apps over the years – we’re very sorry to see you go. And thank you, too, to all of the journalists around the world who continue to review book apps – we’re more grateful than ever before for what you do!

You can help keep innovation alive: Tell your friends about the apps your children enjoy. Rate or review them on the App Store. Share a link to one of our preview movies. Spread the two magical words ‘Nosy Crow’.