Reading Analytics

If you are following the the tech press, you might grow a bit tired of the term “Big Data”. Thus, I will not use it again in this short blog post. But the fact is we are now working hard to finalize the architecture for version 2 of our analytics platform (the first version dates back a few years and was tightly integrated into the authoring tool, this new one is running completely separately from the content production platform). This is an important part of an innovation project for which we have gotten some funding from Innovation Norway.

The most recent incarnation of Reading Analytics in goes way beyond the basic counting of titles and pages that the user accessed. Did the users really use the quiz on page 8? How about the video on the credits page – was it money well spent? Stop guessing and gain actionable insights to optimize your next titles, and learn in detail how your readers are spending their time by utilizing Reading Analytics.

Our Reading Analytics platform also allows for clients to plug in their own Business Intelligence platforms and feed data into production systems, if they desire. And opposed to old fashioned data warehouses (I avoided saying the B-word!), these can efficiently be queried and we provide a set of default real-time-updated widgets and reports as well.

If you want to join our beta program for our updated Reading Analytics platform or have some input for us, please contact us.

Subscription Engine Running

Ortopediteknikk from Tell is one of the titles using digital delivery of titles with license check
Ortopediteknikk from Tell is one of the titles using digital delivery of titles with license check using our Subscription Engine

Maybe we are too modest, but today – after several customers have been using it for almost a year – we are announcing at new product; nicknamed a subscription engine. Sometimes even refer to it with the cryptic description as a “white label subscription backend”. More simply put the product lets our Enterprise Edition customers packet, deliver and sell digital products in any way they want.

The product is API-driven and can integrate with the customers’ e-commerce solutions or run standalone. One use case would be using it to run a set of digital subscriptions, another a digital bookstore selling individual titles and a third to sell licenses in bulk to schools. Or all of the above! 🙂

If you want to discuss options or have a potential use case, please contact us.

Samsung and TapBookAuthor at AFCC

Samsung and have partnered for digitizing the winners in the SKTAA competition and will share some experiences at AFCC

This Friday, our CEO is proud to be joining Samsung Singapore to give a talk at AFCC – The Asian Festival of Children’s Content. Their talk will cover enrichments to digital interactive books and what is popular with the kids that use the apps, as well as with their parents.

Samsung has selected as their platform and partner for digitizing all the winners from the Samsung KidsTime Author’s Award competition.

Literally as we speak on Friday, the 38 winning entries – from some 7 different countries in South East Asia! – are being enriched in a digital format. There are 6 grand prize winners and as part of the talk, you can see a live preview of some of these winners.

If you are in Singapore, I hope you will be able to come to the talk, and look forward to discussing with you in the Q&A and after. I am of course also happy to show you how our tool helps such amazing titles come alive.

News from home while at BEA

The purpose of this short post is twofold; to tell anyone stopping by that we are at BEA and would be happy to meet and to let you know about starting to sell interactive ebooks for children today!

BEA – Book Expo America – is on in NYC this week and we are listening, discussing and mingling. Shout out if you want to chat! I’ll be here the rest of the week.

And from home, I got news today that launched their updated ecommerce page selling interactive books for children. They have nicknamed the format “ebook plus” and the titles typically contain voice-over, sometimes interactivity and animations and in some cases mini-games and quizzes. Out of the 150 or so titles available at launch, I believe only one single title was not made using our tool!

Work of Art

FrøetFrøet from Gyldendal – was called “the first app that proves that an app can be art” in a review.

This makes us as toolmakers very proud!

The app is different from a few other apps made with our tool in that it is not interactive in the sense that you tap to make things happen, but it is very visual with simple yet effective animations and the sound effects and actor create a very coherent experience.

Well done, Gyldendal – looking forward to the next masterpiece from you and our other great customers and partners!

User Forum March 14th

We’ll be holding our second User Forum in Oslo March 14th, at Mesh in Tordenskiolds gate. We’ll keep it low-key, personal and above all useful. We are keen on getting feedback from our users and excited to tell more about recently added features, share some tips & tricks as well as have a look at the roadmap for further development.

About 20 existing users have already enrolled and will be joining, if you want to join us and have not yet gotten an invitation – please reach out and contact us as soon as possible.

Employee of the week: Fredrik Medby Hagen

Fredrik started as VP Business Development (meaning he will do a lot of different cool things) the summer of 2013
Fredrik started as VP Business Development (meaning he will do a lot of different cool things!) in TapBookAuthor in the summer of 2013

Continuing our little series with info on our team, today we (Sondre, the CEO, to be specific) have the pleasure to write a few words about Fredrik. I have worked with Fredrik before, in the management consulting industry.

Therefore, I was more than happy when he decided to cut his salary to come change the world (or at least have fun in a little part of it, improving entertainment and education for children by providing our great cloud-based apps publishing tool – thanks for letting me plug it!).

Let’s see what Fredrik filled in about himself (in one of the very few forms of our firm!):

Name: Fredrik Medby Hagen

Title: Jack of most trades

Specialties: All things IT; requirement specifications, systems design & development,  testing, project-/program-management, IT-strategies etc.

Background: MSc in computer science (NTNU) and employment at small and large consultancies, doing all kinds of IT-related work within the sectors of gaming, telco, media, power&utilities, insurance, banking and health.

Fun fact: In the good old days, I used to nurture my creative side by playing around with trackers and sequencers. Some of my music was actually released (albeit after being remixed by this guy).

Employee of the week: Sondre Skaug Bjørnebekk

Sondre, here with an iPad running the Aschehoug Thomas and Emma app
Sondre, here with an iPad running the Aschehoug Thomas and Emma app

To continue our little series with info on our team, we today let our CEO and Founder sneak in a word or two (to be honest that happens more often than not anyway!).

If it is at all possible to be risk-adverse as a Founder of a startup, Sondre says claims he is – and has been able to steer the company to a profit every year since its founding.

Title: CEO and Founder

Specialities: As a founder of a startup you cannot really afford to have specialities, so I guess mine is that I never feel I am too good for any type of work that needs to be done. I do my share of technical architecture, bookkeeping & invoicing, server maintenance, sales, programming, customer support and product management and enjoy it a lot.

Background: MSc in computer science (NTNU) and MBA in technology management (NTNU, MIT Sloan). Back in the days I also earned a 2nd Lt’s star on the shoulder in the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

Fun fact: I once travelled with train from Moscow to Beijing via Siberia and Mongolia and swam in the manhood-shrinking lake Baikal (13 degrees Celsius!) enroute…

Employee of the week: Adrian Novacescu

Adi has been with us as a developer for a bit more than a year now
Adi has been with us as a developer for a bit more than a year now

Continuing our little series with info on our team, we today write a few words about Adi – a humble and modest guy, who has no big reason for that kind of modesty – since he really is in-the-making to become what people in Silicon Valley like to call a rockstar developer.

Name: Adrian Novacescu

Title: Software Developer

Specialties: I have experience building frontend systems with Java, SmartGWT, HTML, CSS, Javascript as well as backend systems with Java, JSP, Hibernate, MySQL. I am also the “Windows 8 apps go-to guy” in the company.

Background: “Politehnica”, Automation and Computer Science Faculty, Timisoara, Romania.

Fun fact: One time I was on a trip in the mountains with some friends. The weather was perfect when we left from home, so we didn’t took adequate equipment with us. The next day it started to rain, all our food was destroyed, and we spent another two days wet in the woods. Since then, I know that everything you do, you need to be prepared.


Employee of the week: Lucian Corduneanu

Luci Corduneanu has been with TapBookAuthor as a developer for three years
Luci Corduneanu has been with TapBookAuthor as a developer for three years

We are going to do a little series of info on our team. We start off with the developer (not counting our CEO) that has been with us the longest, Luci.

Name: Lucian Corduneanu

Title: Software Developer

Specialties: Proud to be first developer hired. I had the pleasure to work with Sondre, who is a great mentor and teacher. Now we have a bigger team and I’m doing the local coordination and support as needed. I have experience building frontend systems with java, GWT, smartGWT, HTML, CSS, JS as well as backend systems with java, jsp, hibernate, mySQL

Background: “Politehnica”, Automation and Computer Science Faculty, Timisoara, Romania. Cisco CCNA.

Fun fact: I was riding my bike, through a nearby park, which is typically full of children playing, thus, with moderate speed. I had my phone in the right hand talking, when a cute little girl cut my way. I had to use my left hand for a quick break, but the speed was optimal for a perfect flip over the front wheel type of fall. Nobody, except me was hurt, so use the left hand to talk while riding the bike. awarded!

I have always envied blog posts talking about their “award winning” products, but now we are able to do it ourselves! 🙂 and its founder got the annual entrepreneurship price from one of the most prestigous law firms in Norway, and thus we can understand why Sondre is smiling below:

Our CEO receives the Wikborg Rein entrepreneurship price for 2013 from partner Torleif P. Dahl

First user forum held in Oslo

On May 16th, we held our very first user-forum in Oslo. Almost all our customers were attending for an crammed two hour session in the lovely library at Aschehoug in Oslo.

Thank you, Aschehoug for hosting the event! Sondre, our CEO, went through the new features of the next release of Thanks to our simple subscription model, all these awesome features will be available to all subscribers as the new version is deployed.

After the presentation of new features, a round-table discussion was held to shed light on how our customers use TapBookAuthor; what works and what can be improved. Many good ideas were discussed and the TapBookAuthor crew got loads of new inspiration for the near, and long-term roadmap.

Leseland, an app from Samlaget helps children learn reading
Leseland, an app from Samlaget helps children learn reading

One of the demos held was for Samlaget’s Leseland app that was about to be released for both Windows, Android and of course all the iPads out there. This app used both the in-app-purchasing that was added to the tool this winter, the read-along (aka “karaoke mode”) function as well of activation of different sets (“layers”) of sounds and effects according to user selections. You can see a screenshot from the app (yep, the roof is indeed leaking – using the animation feature!) attached to this post. Click the image to see it full size.

Thanks to our users who attended the user forum meeting – and we hope it will be even more next time around!

The grand opening of our blog!

We are thrilled to launch the official TapBookAuthor blog! This will be the one-stop-shop for 1st hand information on the tool and the latest on what we are up to.

We will use this blog to inform you on the latest features implemented in our tool and updates on our planned roadmap ahead. We will also publish various news bulletins on what’s going on, some HOWTO-videos on how to use the tool, info from conferences we attend, talk about our planned user forum meetings, as well as general info on our business as it develops.

We are very excited to have come this far, and we look forward to sharing our thoughts and ideas here with you in the time to come. Stay tuned!

Best regards,
Fredrik and Sondre w/team

Sondre Skaug Bjørnebekk, CEOFredrik Medby Hagen, VP BizDev

Proud of our customers

Today Dagbladet, the second largest Norwegian tabloid newspaper, wrote about two children apps. They usually write about apps for children about once per month. But what was special for us about the reviews this time? In fact both the apps featured were made with our tool!

Dagbladet September 9th 2013, two apps reviewed

The apps in question are both using the possibility of creating a brand-specific channel to the customer, using in-app-purchasing – a feature in our tool for somewhat more than half a year now. And the consumer gets a title for free, to evaluate before paying a single dime. Classical win-win?

Leseland from Samlaget helps people learn to read, with four different levels of difficulty, and uses the “karaoke mode” to highlight text along with a very slow voice. The entire logic of the menu, selection of different voices and images they did with absolutely no help from us, just using the standard features of the tool. Fun for us to see, even if we also like to help customers that prefer to be less hands-on.

Lesestart from Gyldendal is a similar bookshelf with a broader range of titles and a very polished bookshelf-with-store concept with what I personally think is a super looking design and great user experience.

You can see part of the page from the newspaper here, and a similar article is now also online. The titles are in Norwegian.

Employee of the week: Bjørn Terje Bakken

When I listened to Evernote founder Phil Libin, he said (only half jokingly, I believe) that you should not bother to make friends with people you could not start a company with. With Bjørn Terje, it was the other way around – we started working together back in 2001 and I am glad that we have since developed a friendship through being both customer/partner and colleagues in different roles over the years.

Bjørn Terje was our first pilot customer, but left his role as leader of the digital team at Samlaget after an acquisition and reorganization. He now works as a manager in the public sector in his daytime job. Thus, when the time came to recruit our first external board member he was both a natural first choice and available. He did not dare to say no and we are so happy he is contributing on both practical and strategic levels for our firm’s development.

Let’s have a look at what mr. Bakken had to say about himself:

Name: Bjørn Terje Bakken

Title: Board leader

Speciality: Keeping the strategic focus in discussions

Background: Principal study in Geography (NTNU) and employment at Høgskolen i Nord-Trøndelag (lecturer), University Graduate Center at Kjeller (advisor e-learning), Inspera AS (project leader, advisor), Det Norske Samlaget (head of digital unit) and Government Administration Services (head of web development unit).

Fun fact: Able to use a hammer and saw with both hands, and would love to be a carpenter the next time around

Raving review

Dagbladet Nov 11th 2013
Dagbladet Nov 11th 2013

I was made aware of today that in a review from two days ago, in one of Norway’s largest newspapers Dagbladet, Cappelen Damm’s Løveunge (literally “Lion Kid”, its series for early readers) was called “the best reading training app so far”. From the link you can see the online version and the picture is from the printed version. How fun!

Cappelen Damm has been using these features:

  • Layers to activate different sets of sounds
  • Read-along/”karaoke mode”
  • Sound effects with random start and/or delays
  • Custom styled menu
  • In-app-purchase
  • Recording of your own voice (including a new mode for recording all pages in one go)

The app is available both in Google Play and Apple App Store – have a look and enjoy.

Employee of the week: Tudor

TudorHow long do you have to work a place until you stop being “the new guy”? Right now there is no doubt Tudor has to live with this label. Luckily for him, we have no big tradition for having the new guy paying for the Christmas party – but thinking of it, never too late to start a tradition, right?

Here are the well chosen word from Tudor on the topic of, well, Tudor:

Title: Software Developer

Specialities: Software Engineering, Architecture, Design and Testing/QA. Computer Security, Concurrent Programming, Cloud Computing, UML, Java, C, PHP, MySQL.

Background: Currently finishing Master’s Degree in Software Engineering. Bachelor Degree in Computer Science Faculty of Automation and Computer Science, “Politehnica” University of Timisoara.

Fun fact: My favorite quote is: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” –Albert Einstein