Storybird is a website where you can create your own online illustrated storybook. Aimed at children from 3 – 13 books can be created collaboratively and they positively encourage families, friends and school classes to work together. The artwork for your stories is provided by illustators and visual artists who are able to upload their drawings to the site. Making a Storybird is free though they plan to charge for their printing service when it starts later this year. You can browse by artwork or themes as inspiration to start your book and I have to say I like the look of the site and the illustrations very much.
When collaborating on a Storybird each person can jump in and make changes any time they like, however, they have also put together a more formal collaboration process based on turn-taking. One person starts the Storybird and when they want to pass over to their friend they let Storybird know and an email will be sent to their friend telling them it is now their turn. Storybirds can be kept private or published to the library when complete so that other people can share it too.
As I said, I love the look of the site and the illustrations they currently have in the library. It seems it would be difficult not to create a visually beautiful book from these pictures – and I imagine you can upload your own artwork if you want to illustrate your own stories. Storybird suggests that contributing artwork to Storybird has several benefits for artists including making money from your work. However, I’m unclear how this happens when making a Storybird is free… (If you find out please do let me know!)
How does this relate to bookleteer eBooks? I think it’s interesting that the Storybird exists only as an electronic online storybook (at least for the moment) and I don’t find that this detracts from the reading experience – though perhaps I’d feel differently about this if I was reading with a child, or group of children. On the other hand I can also imagine that if I was a child and had created my own Storybird that I would love to see it printed out as a proper little book that I could take home and show my family and friends. I wonder what it is about tangible, hold-able items that makes them feel so personal and intimate compared to things on a screen?