Reimagining books as apps – An Introduction


Books as apps is an exciting prospect.

From iOS and Android to Nook, Kindle Fire and Microsoft’s Windows 8 platform, the possibilities are endless.

The excitement and opportunity of delivering a brand new way to engage readers is one of the main reasons we started working on Papertrell. We knew there had to be a way to tap into the best technologies available and enable these endless possibilities – and we knew we had to do it.

The biggest challenges?

The road to Bookappdom is bumpy. It’s expensive and it’s risky. As easily as you can create a hit and sell tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of apps, you could just as easily end up spending ridiculous sums of money with no opportunity to recover your investment at all.

What do these challenges look like?

  • A quality iPhone or iPad book app alone could easily cost upwards of $50,000. If you wanted to add an Android, Kindle Fire, Nook and/or Windows 8 version, you could easily triple that or quadruple that cost.
  • The expectation is that your book app will sell for a very nominal amount of money – somewhere between $0.99 and $2.99 per app.

To put this into perspective, on the cost basis and at these relatively well established price points as noted above, you would need to sell an app about every 15 minutes – for the next year – in order to make it a profitable endeavor.

Why are book apps so expensive to build?

The answer is simple – until now, until Papertrell, there hasn’t been a platform designed from the ground up to help authors and publishers build native, cross-platform book apps. Prior to Papertrell, book apps have been one-off projects, requiring dedicated software engineers and designers to complete the app for each mobile platform. It doesn’t take long to see why this model is unsustainable.

How did Papertrell lower the costs of building book apps?

In order to lower the costs of building book apps, we looked at two simultaneous factors. First, we had to find a way to dramatically reduce the time (in hours) it took to create an book app. Second, we had to find a way to make the innovation scalable – a way that new features and functions within the apps could be quickly applied across multiple mobile platforms.

When we started Papertrell, we began by hand-building apps and mapping out every single hour it took to build a world-class, cross-platform apps. From this effort we knew exactly what it took to succeed – and we knew exactly what was (and wasn’t) sustainable. With this experience and knowledge we set out to create a framework of common tools, functions and features to simultaneously output a native book app on all major platforms – iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Nook and Windows – without requiring each app to be manually tuned or optimized.

What you see today in Papertrell is the result of this 3 year effort.

Using Papertrell’s powerful content import and re-purposing tools – as well as our unique template-based system – we are able to quickly and easily create an app framework and apply this across all platforms – regardless of device size and screen orientation. Our platform does all the heavy lifting including re-sizing, cropping and scaling all graphic elements for each device and orientation. This has a tremendous impact on the time it takes to build an app.

What does it mean for you, the author or you, the publisher?

This means that with Papertrell you simply upload your content to our platform and we do all of the hard work to make it into a native app. Once the native apps are done, you have the option to make ANY adjustments you want. If you’d like bigger fonts, different colors, different image placements, more complex page layouts … you’re able to do so right in our WYSIWYG editor. 

Additionally, we have a team of experts here to help you, whenever you need it.

So where is Papertrell today?

We’ve dramatically lowered the costs of creating native, cross-platform native book apps;

We’ve removed the operational risks of creating native, cross-platform book apps;

… and we’re just getting started.