Fingerprint Nurtures New Readers Through Mobile Story Creation
Fingerprint is taking a different approach to engaging the next generation of readers on mobile, says CEO and co-founder Nancy MacIntyre. While many publishers and technologists have made strides in improving access to ebooks and creating interactive, game-like titles to keep children reading, MacIntyre believes tools for children to create their own ebooks are equally important. MacIntyre says that writing stories is a critical part of "the virtuous cycle of literacy. Reading supports writing, writing supports reading, and so on." Her company, Fingerprint, is a technology provider which has created interactive learning platforms for brands like Sylvan Learning Center and Samsung, and it entered the user-created book space last month with the launch of the Scribble app. Scribble gives children access to stickers, paint tools, audio recording, and story prompts to create their own ebooks. Here MacIntyre shares how that app, along with Fingerprint’s customized learning platforms, will nurture a new generation of readers.
What problem are you solving?
Anyone who has flown on a plane, visited a Starbucks on a Saturday, or eaten at a family-friendly restaurant has observed kids using mobile devices. Whether they are playing games, reading books, or creating content to share, kids have a nearly unstoppable and insatiable demand for constant stimulus and entertainment. This is both a blessing and a curse for parents and content owners. Parents are concerned about screen time and therefore keep one eye (at least) focused on what their kids are doing on their devices. And content owners are challenged by the mobile business model where most content is free to try. We focus on inspiring a love of learning at Fingerprint. We develop fully integrated experiences that include games, books, and activities designed to keep kids engaged and parents comfortable with the experience and business model.
Our approach around reading is two-fold: both providing a broad range of content to read and providing tools for kids to create their own content. This month we launched Scribble, a brand new book creation app based on the award-winning Scribble Press. Scribble allows kids to share their creativity with family and friends in the form of digital books. Scribble plays a part on the virtuous cycle of literacy. Reading supports writing, writing supports reading, and so on. We purchased Scribble Press one year ago and brought on its creator, publishing veteran Anna Barber, to drive continued growth for the brand. Since its launch in 2011, kids have used Scribble Press to make more than 3 million digital books, inspiring a whole generation of writers and artists.
We also focus on curating libraries of ebooks from the world’s best creators for our partners Samsung, Sylvan Learning, and Findaway. Our subscription services include over 200 books from Speakaboos, Farfaria, and others creating an exciting library mapped to Common Core Standards and handpicked to provide an engaging experience for kids aged 3 to 8.
How did you come up with this idea?
Our initial vision was pretty simple -- provide the best library of kids mobile content available, sold on a subscription basis. Even five years ago when Fingerprint was formed, we knew that convenience, curation, and quality would be key to success with families. Multimedia is so relevant today’s world, especially for children.
With Scribble, we continue to embrace and encourage traditional reading and writing, but incorporate video and audio to further foster their imagination. We’re all aware that visitors to YouTube's homepage are now up over three times year-over-year, according to Google, YouTube’s owner. Meanwhile, how much time users actually spend viewing videos is up 60 percent. Scribble is designed to allow kids to incorporate their natural predisposition for video along with writing and book creation.
What are the most important trends in book publishing?
We think the long tail of self-publishing plays a role here. Scribble is on the continuum with sites such as Blurb and Lulu that allow authors to create professional books and self-publish them. Another important trend we see is online audience building with sites such as Wattpad. We think the line between author and audience is blurring, and that kids understand that, and want to participate in the creation of the content they love.
Who is your competition?
Book Creator is a book creation platform that is in the same space as Scribble and is used in schools. The key difference is it’s really a productivity tool, not a source of inspiration. The backgrounds, stories, music, stickers, and other content that spark ideas and help with the creative process make Scribble stand out. Toonastic is a cartoon maker for kids and it allows for narration and leverages existing beloved characters. So that’s similar, but lacks the writing and illustration aspect.
Scribble is a platform for kids to engage with all kinds of content and create their own stories – whether that’s bringing in their own photos and art or working with popular characters from television and books. We have a number of great spinoff versions in the works that combine some of our great reading content with creation experiences. We also think there are many untapped classroom applications and we look forward to hearing from educators using the app about content and features they would like to see.
Nancy MacIntyre is the co-founder and CEO of Fingerprint, a mobile education
and entertainment platform for kids. Nancy left the corporate world in 2010 to create Fingerprint which is now a 30-person strong company in Silicon Valley. Fingerprint creates learn-and-play mobile app networks for brands such as Samsung, Sylvan Learning, Highlights and Corus Entertainment. Named one of the Top 50 Women in Tech in Silicon Valley by Tech.Co, previously Nancy held executive positions at LeapFrog, LucasArts and Hasbro Interactive.