Reading Marathon

We have just completed our first reading marathon! We hope this will be happening yearly from now.

This happened as part of the pilot project where thousands of pupils are testing our new social reading platform, Lesemester (literally “reading master”). They have now collected points, challenged each other, added each other as reading friends and not least read almost half a million pages.

The iPad app is used by pupils, while teachers have a dashboard given them overview both aggregated and on for the individual reader. Recently the app was released for all other platforms, including for Chromebooks where we are seeing schools onboarding these days. Upcoming features include more statistics and gamification even for the teachers and a timeline view of the class reading activity.

And the winners? 4B at Ågotnes skule – winning half a year with devices from everyone from HP and Microsoft. Runner-ups won super nice book packages in both physical and digital form.

The app is used by pupils, while their teacher gets overview in a personalized dashboard

Digital books on big screens in classrooms

We are currently visiting Bett and actually just signed with a client that will be using our platform to produce enhanced ebooks specifically tailored to usage in the classroom, often by the teacher on a big screen. Our rich palette of enrichments as well as our strong support for layers of interactions that can be easily turned on and off was the deciding factor to choose our offering.

The titles will likely include usage of our API-integration to use internal and industry standard login services, as well of adding interactive widgets beyond our standard palette to the books. One prime example of this will be lookups in dictionaries in books focused on language training.

The client also had some ideas for additional features, which I can’t share any more details about at this point – but will for sure do that later. As always we are developing the features on the condition that they will be standard features for all our enterprise users as soon as they are ready.

If you want a, virtual or physical, demo of how can be used for books projected on a screen in the classroom contact us – or, if you are at Bett today, grab me! Happy Friday!

Big Day in Helsinki

Today, Bjørn Terje Bakken – the project manager for our social reading app with gamification – presented the private beta of Lesemeister (literally “reading master”) to Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway, the Finnish President and several ministers.

Bakken in Helsinki
Bjørn Terje Bakken presenting Lesemeister in Helsinki

Reports say that the presentation was received with enthusiasm, including a comment from Her Majesty the Queen herself that this looked very interesting. Below is a screenshot where the Queen seems to have completed a new title…

Her Majesty the Queen on Lesemeister
Her Majesty the Queen, or someone using that account, completing a title on Lesemeister to make it show up in the live feed of a friend – from the demo in Helsinki today

Our goal is that by 2019, over half of Norwegian pupils will train to become better readers using this platform. Ambitious? Yes. Impossible? We’ll see. We are also looking for partners wanting to use the concept internationally, so if this sounds like you – please give us a shout.

We do thank Innovation Norway for their invaluable support for the research project leading up to this product, our partner Samlaget for a great collaboration so far as well as Edtech Norway (some activity in their group on Facebook regarding this event) for the opportunity to come and present. We think this will be a royal success.

Guest post from Ellen Fossli

Today’s post is a guest post from one of the members of our beta program, Ellen Fossli of Kirell Design. The goal of the project is to make our tool accessible to all the great indie publishers (think 1 and 2 person shops) all over the world. But, like they say, without further ado – the word goes to Ellen.

Ellen Fossli is well on her way to become a wizard
Ellen Fossli is well on her way to become a wizard

In my day job, I am using Adobe Creative Cloud – Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. My area of work includes brochures and magazines, profiling for companies, book design, etc. In addition I am working on a series of children’s books that I hope to publish.

It is for the children’s books I have been using TapBookAuthor. In addition to printed books, I want to release rich and interactive digital version of the titles. To be honest I was a bit skeptical – thinking the tool might be hard to learn, but it was truly not. In fact, it has been amazingly easy!

The tool gives me access to a rich palette of effects, animations and other opportunities. I have still a lot to learn, but even after just one meeting I made an interactive presentation of the book. And it was so fun to do!

I have also started a project with a book of poems for one of my clients. This is also very exciting and I feel I can take digital books to a whole new level.

Before ending, I would like to thank Sondre Skaug Bjørnebekk for an exciting and creative collaboration – and not least fantastic service! This is so fun!

OK, so I got the virtual mic back – blushing a tiny bit, but at least I can return the compliment and say it has been a real pleasure working with Ellen. And she has been patient, because although we are getting there, we are aware we still have some tiny wrinkles to take care of before every indie publisher and self publisher of the world should make rich interactive titles with our tool. 🙂 If you are a self publisher and would like to try our tool, give me a ping at sondre (a)

Frankfurt Frenzy

We are heading to Frankfurt for the book fair tomorrow. My colleague Fredrik will stay for a couple of days, while I have to travel back tomorrow night. Our schedule is busy with plenty of exciting meetings, but we will also spend some time walking around talking to possible partners and new users that might want to check out our services.

If you want to get in touch, you can reach Fredrik on +47 93 84 73 46 and Sondre on +47 91 74 15 74. If you are going, I wish you a great fair!


Employee of the week: Sebi

Time has come to write a couple of words about a developer that joined us about half a year ago. Sebastian, or Sebi Sebifor short, is not only a coder – he is a guitar hero. How cool is that? (I still blame my parents for sending me to flute practice instead of giving me a guitar. When did a flute ever help you in an after-party?)

Here are the things Sebi said about himself:

Title: Software Developer

Speciality: Software engineering, C, Java (currently developing SmartGWT skills), front-end solutions with Flex/Flash for web and iOS, web technologies with HTML, JS and CSS, Unix shell scripting, MySQL.

Background: BSc in Computer Science and MSc in Computer Engineering, both from the “Politehnica” University in Timisoara, Automation and Computer Science Faculty. I am also kind of proud that my BSc thesis was published in an engineering journal in 2010. Happy to join the team, especially having already met and briefly worked with Sondre before he started this adventure.

Fun fact: Being a tech nerd is not enough, apparently. I’m also kind of a guitar nerd as well and I try to work on my chops every day.

Welcoming new customers

Going into the summer, we have just signed with two new customers. NKI Forlaget and Tell Forlag, both Norwegian publishers with interesting projects coming up.

They are joining our innovative group of customers that now includes small and large publishers in both North and South America, UK and the Nordic region. We are working with potential clients in several locations and would love to discuss with you if you have an exciting project or idea.

How-to video: Downloads and in-app-purchases

In our series of how-to videos, I promised in the last post that we would return with an advanced topic. And here we are! Today we’ll lead you to a feature that is powerful and that for sure will have you scratching your head over details in the Apple App Store at some point, if you are not used to the terminology of in-app-purchases.

The feature itself is simple enough, check it out:

So by adding a link to another component for download, you are totally flexible in your content creation and content monetization. You can even build your own custom bookshelf this way (like some of our customers have), even if we have tailor made powerful functionality for that particular purpose.

You can add products that have to be purchased before the content is downloaded, and these can be in all three major app stores. Also, even if not shown in the video, we support a couple of third party hosting options for the binary content (to use this, you export it from our system and upload it to Apple’s servers as a binary content for download for a particular in-app-purchase).

If you have questions above the feature shown above or suggestions about new videos topics we should cover, just send us a quick notice. We are happy to do Skype demos or in-person workshops with new our existing customers to discuss details of our offering.

Awesome Award

Praising yourself is nice, but being praised by a third party is even nicer. This is just what happened to our customer Little Pickle Press of San Francisco, Catching Fireflies interactive book app with journalCalifornia the other day. Just look at what the jury wrote about their recent Catching Fireflies app created with our tool:

“THIS is what eBooks should be, taking advantage of the strength of the format to offer the reader an experience they truly could not get on the printed page.”

The title was given the Benjamin Franklin Digital Award. Congratulations Coleen, Rana and the rest of the team. We are proud to be your partner.

Employee of the week: Ionut

IonutThere is a saying that jokingly goes something like this: If it sits on your desk for more than fifteen minutes, you are suddenly the expert. The thing with the guy we’ll present today is that it is really the case. Ionut has an amazing ability to grasp new things quickly and put them to practical use the second after.

When it comes to the topic of himself, Ionut shared the following:

Title: Software Developer

Specialties: Java frontend and backend technologies like SmartGWT, Hibernate and Spring, MySQL databases, Unix shell scripting, mobile applications programming for iOS and Android, frontend web technologies with HTML, JS and CSS, embedded programming.

Background: “Politehnica” Timisoara, Automation and Computer Science Faculty, speciality “System engineering” bachelor degree. Master degree in “Automotive embedded software” from the same faculty. I worked almost a full year at company Hella Romania as software tester for automotive before joining the team a couple of years back.

Fun fact: Once I loved very much programming for embedded devices. During that time I created a self parking car model remotely controlled with a mobile phone via bluetooth. I still love that piece of work and I like to show it to my new friends.

Ionut drives a nice new Passat, in other words he is really well prepared to have a family – but as far as I know he is single. So, any great girls out there for our great developer and friend? Let him know, you might find him swimming, having (usually just one) beer or running. He comes highly recommended (I am not sure if I left the topic of girls now, true in any case!).

An offer you can’t refuse

We are glad to report that we have just signed two new customers, GAN Aschehoug and Schibsted Forlag. With Schibsted aboard (and if my counting is right), all five the largest Norwegian publishers are users.

And the somewhat playful title of this post hints to the fact that we have had 100% of our customers doing a small paid pilot move on to become permanent users. Yep, our tool is that good (and we are not half bad ourselves!). Please contact us if you’d also like an offer you can’t refuse!

How-to video: Add navigation

In our series of how-to videos, we will today go on to cover a video that shows how you can add links or jump points between your scenes (aka pages). You find the video embedded below.

That was easy peasy, right? Next time we’ll cover a way more advanced topic, so if you thought it was a bit too easy – please check back! But even if the feature itself is simple, you can actually do a lot with it.

With the feature, you can create non-linear stories, you can add a sidetrack with additional multimedia and if you are creative enough you might create your own little maze game using our tool. It is super easy to add those links or jumps. So, please join me in singing: “Jump around, jump around, jump up, jump up and get down”. (Yes, I was a teenager in the 90s. No, I was in fact not a huge Cypress Hill fan.)

If you have questions above the feature shown above or suggestions about new videos topics we should cover, be sure to let us know. We are planning to start the production of a new batch in a bit more than a month.

Back from Bologna

Bologna 2014I have just returned from one of the biggest events of the year in children’s books publishing, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

We talked to many interesting people, but if we missed you – let us now and we can have a chat on Skype or phone instead!

Next up for us is the London Book Fair – here you can meet both Fredrik and myself – and we’ll also be visiting Book Expo America later in spring. Give us a ping if you want to have a chat about how to create awesome interactive books with no helps from programmers!

Employee of the week: Alin

AlinI made a cup for our designer, Alin, that says “The cup of the world’s best designer”. That is only half-joking, because at his best Alin is really that good. And of course he likes praise, like we all do!

Here is what Alin wrote about himself:

Title: Graphic & UI Designer

Specialities: Adobe suite, Software & Website Interfaces, Branding & Graphic Design and coffee

Background: Arts & Design Faculty, Timisoara, “Multimedia Design” bachelor degree. For 7 years I’ve been trying to share my ideas creating website layouts, software interfaces, corporate identities, graphic design, video editing, prints, advertising and advising on marketing strategies.

Fun Fact: It is impossible to lick your elbow. I stopped trying long time ago.

And if Alin likes me when I hint to his greatness as a designer, I know he also have his times where he does not really love my feedback. (How do you make a design “a bit more fresh and playful” or “a tad more lighthearted” – I know I would kill anyone giving me that kind of feedback expecting to be taken seriously…) But all in all we enjoy working together a lot and I hope we will have the chance to do so for a long time.

Singapore Sling(shot)

We are participating in Innovation Norway’s Tech Incubator program at JFDI in Singapore. So for the next three weeks, our CEO is discussing with potential partners and collaborators in the South East Asian market.

If you happen to read this, even if not during our period here, and are an indie publisher in the area that may want to test our offering – give us a ping (or on local number +65 9166 5766), and we’ll help you getting started.

Meet us around the world

This spring, you might meet us around the world as we travel to trade fairs and to work with partners. The way it looks now, the places we could meet include:

  • Bologna when March turns into April (for the Children’s book fair)
  • Singapore early April
  • In London for the London Book Fair April 14th and 15th
  • End of May in NYC for Book Expo America

Let us know if you have an exciting project and want to meet with us, also in places not mentioned above!

Win and get your title in app stores

TapBookAuthor arriving in Bologna
TapBookAuthor arriving in Bologna

We are visiting the Bologna and London book fairs this week and the next. We thought this was a good occasion to do some good and at the same time get our platform in the hands of even more creative people across the globe.

Our platform is used by children’s book publishers all over the world to create interactive content for learning and entertainment. The company got a first international breakthrough when Samsung decided to use the platform in seven countries in South East Asia. Recently an Indie Edition, aimed at self publishers and small organizations, of the platform was launched and can be tested for free by anyone.

We are now running a competition where we sponsor the winners with free access to the premium edition for a year, free 1-to-1 training as well as App Store fees for the year for Apple and Google’s respective stores. This is a total value of over 2000 USD. As always: You keep all your revenue, publish in your own name and own your work 100%.

To take part in the competition, write an email to and explain why your title will be a success in the app stores. Feel free to include sketches and other materials that will convince us, especially highlight how your title will benefit from digital enrichments. All materials submitted will be treated confidentially.

User Forum #3

Today we held our third user forum, in the cinema at Oslo Science Park, where we are currently situated in the EdTech Lab. The attendance was good, and we were super proud to see what our customers are creating as well as showing some goodies ourselves in terms of new functionality.

Social Reading from Samlaget
Bjørn Terje Bakken is showing the social reading app from Samlaget

The highlights included:

  • A presentation from GAN Aschehoug of their Bokbussen app
  • A presentation of how TapBookAuthor is helping Samsung KidsTime create around 40 rich titles for the award winning titles from seven countries in South East Asia
  • A look at the new backend technology for social reading, with pilot customer Samlaget as the first user (utilizing more or less our complete backend platform including Reading Analytics, gamification and social challenges, the subscription engine as well content delivery and a rich reader app)

We also announced a new partnership with voice-over professionals with talent from all over the world available, new employees (we are now 10 counting part time employees!) and several new clients.

In the practical demos of new functionality, we went from idea to fully functional app on our Android Tablet in a few minutes. The app included camera interactions, free hand drawing, drag and drop, text input and of course sounds and videos.

If you want to get a version of the “highlight reel” from our user forum demoed live over Skype, please give us a ping. We are also planning to start doing regular webinars that we think will complement our library of HOWTO videos in a great way.

Hope to see you in person the next time we are arranging our user forum!