I attended my last BEA as a resident of the east coast (though I’m sure I’ll find a way to get back there next year). Although I was pressed for time and unable to make any of the panels this year, I met some really amazing people, publishers, and startups.
One of my favorite booths was Indie Bestsellers, where six indie best-selling authors talked to fans and signed books. The authors were Bella Andre, Stephanie Bond, Tina Folsom, Barbara Freethy, Hugh Howey and CJ Lyons. I took a picture with Barbara Freethy and Hugh Howey, because I had the pleasure of interviewing them for a couple of my IndieReader articles, and it was nice to meet them in person. And I was really excited when I met CJ Lyons, and she told me she had heard about Write or Read!
Below are some other highlights from BEA 2013:
FarFaria is an iPad app developed by Intuary, a company based in San Francisco “whose mission is to create innovative products that empower users.” Called “the Netflix for children’s books,” FarFaria offers more than 400 children’s stories, with five new ones added each week.
All of the stories are geared towards children ages 2-9, and are beautifully illustrated, with the option to be read aloud with a Read-to-Me feature. It’s easy to try out the app for free, or subscribe for $3.99 per month. I played around with the app, which let me test out a book for free, and I loved the “Explore the World” feature, which let me choose from a variety of categories to find books: Picture Point, Fairy Tale Forest, Classics Grove, Sing Along City, Fable Hills, GoodLand, Fantasy Falls, Animal Kingdom, Adventure Island, Looney Lagoon, and Bedtime Bluffs.
Storyfinds is a site that digitally connects readers with authors, by showcasing their e-books and buy links to Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iBookstore, and Audible. Founded by Renee Field just 10 months ago, the site already has 2,000 subscribers and a reach of over 100,000, through a combination of its email lists and social networks. New content is up on the site every day, and testimonials on the site prove that it helps authors see a spike in their sales. Authors are encouraged to use Storyfinds to promote their work, and sometimes the site hosts themed genre weeks. There is also a companion site, Storyfindsx, that focuses on erotica and adult books.
Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada are literary agents in Northern California who have been helping writers launch their careers since 1972. They help writers out through a variety of ways, such as offering consulting services for non-fiction writers, organizing the annual San Francisco Writers Conference, San Francisco Writing for Change, and keeping an informative blog. They also run the San Francisco Writers University.
Stkr.it is a software company from Ann Arbor, MI that recently launched StorySticker, “the next generation of children’s audio book technology that enables anyone to create their own personal children’s audio book for the little ones in their life.” Grandparents and traveling parents can record themselves reading a children’s book, so children can hear their loved ones’ voices at bedtime.
StorySticker can be accessed through a free mobile app (Android, iPhone, iPad) or StorySticker website, in combination with a unique coded sticker that attaches to the inside of any book.
Scott Evans, head of business development, said StorySticker started in December of last year, and they are already looking into possibly licensing the technology to publishers. The recordings can be used for other markets, such as young adult. Right now though, the idea is to “pay one time and store it for 100 years,” he said.
Recordings are saved forever, and can be a family keepsake. The concept is similar to Hallmark’s recordable books, but can be applied to any book (Hallmark only has 20 books), and there’s no limit to the length of the recording. The process is fairly simple. Buy the StorySticker, download the free app, scan the code into the app, record the story, then place the sticker in the book to play the recording back when the code is scanned. Once you create a recording, it is added to your StorySticker library.
OverDrive, “the leading full-service digital distributor of eBooks, audiobooks, music and video worldwide,” unveiled and showed demos of its digital kiosk, a way for bookstores to physically sell e-books.
The idea is readers can browse, buy, and send links to their emails. The kiosk is currently in beta, and OverDrive is in talks with some retailers, who will be able to white label kiosks to customize for their stores. Currently the kiosk is in three libraries, in Ohio and Singapore.
My Own Pet Balloons had the cutest booth at BEA. Balloon artist Treb Heining makes “inflatable pets” that even have legs to simulate walking. These pets come in all shapes and sizes, including dogs, cats, ponies, and even dinosaurs. Currently some of the different types of dog and cat balloons are tied in with children’s books from AMOpublishing, The Purr-fect Twitching Tale and The Legend of Tails.
Skunk Hollow Publishing is a boutique publisher run by a mother daughter team. They create wonderful children’s books and e-books, coupled with plush toys. Their books include No Sniveling: A Fluffy Tale of Floppidy Loppidy and Zap-A-Monster.
Widbook is a free social network for writers and bloggers. Authors and readers can write, read and share content. It’s a digital content collaboration platform, where authors and readers come together to create new works. With Widbook, students can collaborate to create multimedia projects, journalists can share ideas, authors can work together, and readers can share stories and save books on their digital bookshelves. The site is web-based, so content can be read anywhere.
The founders Flavio Aguiar and Joseph Bregeiro said the site currently has more than 30,000 people, 10,000 books, and 36 languages. Widbook was started one year ago in Brazil, and now they are working to develop tools to allow users to download books.
Librify is a site that will launch this fall. Currently geared towards book clubs, the site will charge a monthly fee for subscription access and will allow users to browse and discover new books, and share and take notes.
Cine-Books is a company that creates enhanced e-books with high-quality photos, illustrations, videos, and voice, sound and music inserts. All of their books can be read as a regular book, heard as an audiobook, and watched like a movie, on a PC, tablet, smartphone, or even a TV. Basically, the company combines books with movies, to deliver a new type of “reading” experience.
Winged Hussar Publishing is a publisher founded about a year ago by Vincent W. Rospond, who has 20+ years experience in the publishing and gaming industry. The publisher is based in Point Pleasant, NJ, and publishes books and resources focused on the military, in particular eastern Europe and Poland. All books have detailed maps and other resources, and other topics include the American Civil War. Additionally, the publisher has started producing some steam punk.
RedShelf is an HTML5 e-reading platform that uses the cloud so users can upload their e-books and read them on any device with an Internet connection. However, the service is a little expensive. The first 10 files are free, but there are tiered monthly costs if you want to upload more than 10 files to their site.
*A representative from RedShelf emailed me to clarify the company’s pricing structure. Here is what she said:
Our “Starter” level is zero monthly cost for content creators to upload their digital content. From there RedShelf would take a fee of 20% per unit sold at a capped of $6.99. Meaning if a publisher had an ebook that was for sale for $40 we would only take $6.99 and not the full 20% fee. The “10 free file” are for publishers who wish to actually post content for free vs. for sale. At the starter level we only allow content creators to upload 10 files that they can post on RedShelf for free where there is no fee taken from people obtaining that content.
Bindworx is a company based in the U.K. that allows readers to “mash-up” their books, and control how much of an e-book to buy, whether that means by chapter, page, or paragraph. According to the press release, “they can also drag and drop content portions from different publications into a new, personalised compilation with maximum value,” as well as upload multimedia content and weave it with content from the Bindworx library.
Flipick is a plugin that allows users to create fixed-layout e-books in InDesign.
Mediander is a site that hasn’t yet launched, but according to the press release, it will seamlessly link “millions of cultural topics, people, books and videos in one intuitive ecosystem.” Users will be able to browse book titles by topics and connected topics. I’ve signed up to be notified when they launch, and I can’t wait to see what it’s about.