Living Books

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As you all know, Stephen Pohlmann is a dear friend and supporter of Ourboox (and excellent writer, as well). This afternoon we had a conversation about what he calls “living books”. Stephen claims that one of the unique things about ourboox is that the books are alive. Since the books can be edited at any point in time, they have a continual nature to them. I tend to agree. I go over many of the books I have written during the past three years, add an illustration, tweak the text, bring them up to date, etc.
Combine this notion with the ability of authors to create ongoing interactive projects within the books (puzzles, games, padlets, etc) and you have a book that changes over time. Compare this with the books of yesteryear that were fixed and transfixed the moment they were published. Yet another distinct advantage to what we are doing.
Further, now that books appear the moment they are created, their development is like that of a baby growing into an adult.
Ourboox is growing all over the world. The platform becomes home to some hundred books (or more) every day. We feature the ones that we think are amazing (you are welcome to suggest books for featuring) and we are delighted to see how the library is growing and developing. Expect some exciting developments in the platform in 2017 as well.
In the meantime, wishing you a happy and fruitful February!
Mel for the Ourboox team. Email me at mel@ourboox.com

The Couch and I

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Hello writers, readers and Ourboox friends, 
This year I hope to regale you with discuss various aspects of storytelling, creativity, and how to make best use of our amazing platform. We have started with something a little out of the ordinary, by interviewing a couch. Expect a video and book next week. Just saying, 2017 will be a great year for all of us. Keep the books coming! We are growing by about 100 a day!!!!
Interview with The Couch That Yelled Ouch
http://bit.ly/2ivl6Zn

New Year’s Resolution

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Dear friends and Ourboox lovers,
Sorry for not blogging last week. We were busy celebrating Hagai Cohen’s 80th birthday. Hagai has been a contributor to Ourboox since the very beginning, and one of his stories on the platform (“The Two Blowhards” http://bit.ly/2iX9L2Y ) was mentioned during the event, alongside many amusing stories about his life.
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And now, I want to say a few words about my New Year’s Resolution of writing 1000 children’s stories in 2017. It’s quite a challenge I agree. And whether or not I make it in the end, it already is having a positive effect – I am constantly thinking about ideas for books!! I’ve started over thirty of them since January 1st. Unfortunately none are ship-shape so I’m not going to be sharing any for a week or so. But stay posted. I am on track. I challenge any of you to a similar resolution in 2017!!

To Our Dear Readers

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It’s that time of year to reach out to thank our thousands of authors and readers, across the globe. It’s been a great 2016 for Ourboox with over 750,000 unique page views (each book is a page!), and almost 8,000 books on over seventy subjects, and in twenty different languages. What does 2017 hold in store? More features and surprises, that’s what. So please spread the word about our free website and how it enables anyone to create amazing digital picture books, incorporating text, figures, maps, videos and almost everything else, including the kitchen sink. Please share the url’s of the books that you love, the ones you’ve written, and help us spread the word. We need you with us!
With best wishes,
Shuli, Mel, Ran, Maya and Ourboox lovers everywhere!

Happy Holidays !

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As the holidays of light draw nigh (Christmas and Hanuka arrive together this year), we are witnessing an influx of stories about the holidays. And why not? These two holidays for Christians and Jews are the time families get together, sometimes from far and wide, share gifts, stories, take photos, decorate trees and hanukiot,  and create memories. Ourboox is happy to be part of this process. On our platform, you can create a book, add a few words about your family, your memories, a few family pictures and even embed a video of Bing Crosby singing I’m dreaming of a White Christmas (I recently began to realize that Jews can also take pride in this song,  given that it was written by a Jewish guy whose original name was Israel Baline). On Ourboox, you can go back at any time and edit and update your book. And you can always share the url with family, friends and anyone. Oh, and it is completely free to use. So you can save your money for all the presents!

My Favorite things

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Two days ago, I was giving a talk to 150 teachers of English as a second language. I wanted to give them an idea of books their pupils could write. Then, Rogers and Hammerstein came to the rescue. Of course! I simply remembered “My favorite things”. It’s easy for everyone to write about their favorite food, holiday, pet, trip, pastime, hobby, book. Yesterday I continued with another group of teachers. We added pictures, text, embedded videos and Google maps, and had a great time.   Here is one sample. Perhaps you can do better!!! So, go ahead, write a book about “My Favorite Things” and share it with the world. And me. http://www.ourboox.com/books/my-favorite-things-20/

2016

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As the year 2016 comes to a close, it’s time to thank some of our stars during the past year – those of you who have contributed time, efforts, and even money, to help us in our quest to be the best website ever for creating and sharing digital picture books. First, to my dear wife Shuli, who as CEO has lent her vision and support (and of course half of the investment), to partner, co-founder and resident web genius Ran Shternin, who continues to make the site better and better (check out the new Activity Feed on the homepage, for example), to our social queen, Maya Hed, for spreading the word (well, the books, actually) far and wide, to Nik Peachey for publishing such a beautiful piece about Ourboox ( http://bit.ly/2aihOSG)  to Stephen Pohlmann and Alon Cohen who have provided financial assistance, our advisory team (Tal Givoly, we are planning to use your awesome idea in 2017, and yes, Avi Shechter we must meet!) with a special shout out to Jeff Pulver who is always full of great advice. our wonderful lawyer Guy Lachman, our prolific writers (Amnon Yoged comes immediately to mind), the thousands of teachers who are using Ourboox with their students (Malu, you deserve a star here), and our millions of writers and readers. Go on, give yourselves a big like!!!
New features are in store in 2017, so be prepared to be surprised. Wishing us all a wonderful year!!!

On The Road Again ….

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Every couple of weeks, I get into my car and head up to the Lebanese border, where I teach dozens of teachers how to use Ourboox. I love it, they love it. Last week I addressed a group of Arab science teachers. I told them that many hundreds of children here are writing books in Arabic that are shared and read throughout the Arab world. Some of the teachers had already heard of Ourboox. In fact, one of the teachers had participated in a movie on how to create a book (in Arabic, of course).
Some 15% of the books on the platform are in Arabic. They are read throughout the Arab world. Here is one on the environment that has been read over 4000 times around the Arab world.
Call it our little contribution to understanding and sharing, nothing more.
Here is one of the books, read almost 5000 times. Mabruq!

Thursday Inspiration

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What is more fun than sitting in front of a blank screen (or piece of paper) and filling it with a story? What to write about, you might ask? Well, practically anything. A fly on the wall, a building oh so tall, a magical wand that loses its spell, a secretive language that I know very well, a book, a hook, a nose on a shnook, a peter, a pepper, a Norwegian shlepper. Or maybe a story or two about gum, just how it was born and where it comes from. I’m out of ideas, so I’m waiting for you. To log on to Ourboox, and write your story. Or two.

On turning sixty-five

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I thought that I would have a lot of time to sit back and reflect on my life, write some pithy lines, but I have become incredibly busy teaching at colleges and universities, and now acting as advisor to Prof. Yuli Tamir, the president of Shenkar college. And of course, lecturing about Ourboox (primarily to teachers) and doing some writing of my own. So here’s the irony: I’m still up and around, running as hard as I ever did, and don’t have time to sit down on the milestone and contemplate. And maybe that’s the best gift of all. So happy birthday to me. May I continue to be too busy to reflect on becoming a chronological senior! And may I always always remain a child at heart.