Humans tell stories. That’s just what we do. It is a fundamental part of who and what we are. Some write books or make films, while others tell stories in their everyday lives through videos, Snapchat, Facebook Live, and texts. About two billion people have supercomputers in their pockets—and these devices are
now the most widely used tools for both reading and creating stories.
It is in this context that we saw an opportunity to develop Oolipo,
a storytelling platform that uses native mobile technology to shape
the way users engage with stories. With Oolipo, storytellers of all
types can create and publish a new story in a series of eight to 10
episodes. Episodes are five to eight minutes, so that they can be
consumed on the go, with each including video, audio, pictures, text,
GPS, messaging, and other features. This is definitively not the
“print under glass” experience. And for millennials, who are fast
becoming the largest consumer group, this is crucial. Until now, the
procedure for adapting video—or e-books and text—is to take the
existing format and convert it for mobile use, often losing design
features, functionality, or practicality on the way. We believe, how-
The most important media company in the world has never published a book and never produced a movie. Its users share mostly pictures. Even publishers such as CNN and Vogue are limited to short videos. And almost all of the content disap- pears after 24 hours. Yet Snapchat currently has more than
60 million daily users in North America and over 150 million worldwide. Its planned IPO in 2017 is expected to bring in over $25 billion.
In contrast, after a decade of delivering e-books in the ePub format from the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), large
trade publishers in the U.S. and Europe remain on track to have
their key product reduced to a niche market. E-books remain stagnant words on digital paper, priced at a level higher than any other
digital culture. Want an album of music? $9.99 with no digital
rights management, or you can stream it for a pittance. Rent a feature-length film? $3.99 tops. But license an e-book that you can’t
even give to a friend? That will be $12.99, please.
For six years, first with O’Reilly Media and now with the Frankfurt
Book Fair, I’ve helped produce the Books in Browsers conference in
San Francisco. Its purpose was to showcase how the Web could enable
new forms of interaction with e-books. The denouement of that phase
came in 2014, when the IDPF digital book standards organization
stood onstage with the Web standards body, the W3C, to announce
that the next-generation e-book standard would fully embrace the
ever, that the features that already exist
on a smartphone can unlock the magic
of storytelling: GPS, 4K video, 12-megapixel camera, billions of
sensors, access to the Internet, a communications platform, touch-
screen interaction, keyboard, picture editing tools, maps, music.
According to a recent Nielsen Global Survey, millennials “value,
even demand, connectivity, convenience, and options that allow
them to be in control.” And with Oolipo, we aim to deliver just
that: a platform to tell stories that are optimized for the capabilities
of the phone.
As publishers grapple with the future of digital publishing and
mobile reading, it is important that they embrace the capabilities
of the technology before them. And Oolipo seeks to provide
creators—whether writers, filmmakers, or gamers—with the capability to do just that. ;
open Web. Today, a formal merger of the
IDPF into the W3C stands before its
membership for ratification.
And yet publishing still has little in the marketplace to demonstrate its own investment in Web standards. And Storytelling has
moved beyond books. Using images, video, and fragments of text,
everyday users as well as artists, historians, poets, and filmmakers
are creating millions of experiences that inform, entertain, and
speculate. All over the globe, mobile users are producing and sharing videos on social platforms, documenting small pieces of our lives
and binding the planet together in a tapestry of pictures and videos.
And, with accessible virtual reality platforms such as Google’s Daydream and Sony’s PlayStation VR, we’re in the early stages of creating immersive, lifelike replications of our world.
This passion is why the Frankfurt Book Fair is pivoting Books in
Browsers this year to examine these newer forms of interactive and
visual story building. Our program, “Telling Small Stories,” will
explore the rich and exciting diversity of our image-centric world
and the tools creators are using to tell stories. This is the edge of the
future of publishing. We hope you will join us November 3 and 4
at the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts in San Francisco.
To learn more or to register, visit the BiB website ( www.booksin-
Using Mobile Technology to Create
Telling Small Stories
Oolipo is one of the innovative startups launching at this year’s fair
Books in Browsers VII, on November 3 and 4 in San Francisco,
will examine the powerful new tools we use to tell our stories
RYAN DAVID MULLINS
Ryan David Mullins is chief product officer at Oolipo. Oolipo’s presentation is on
Thursday, October 20, 5–5: 30 p.m., at the Publishing Perspectives Stage, Hall
6.0, E11, followed by a launch party, 5:30–6: 30 p.m.