Thanks to development of new software and POD technologies, companies such as Put Me in the Story and Lost My Name are transforming the children’s personalized book market. But Writing for Tiny, a new personalized book venture based in Ireland, has added something its competitors don’t offer—a flexible, almost unlimited ability to offer diversity.
Founded in 2014 by Gail Condon, a former pediatric nurse, Writing for Tiny allows its users to create personalized picture books (for ages 2–10) that can reflect a wide range of familial possibilities. The site offers a variety of family story lines (starting school, super-duper big brother/sister, new baby, etc.) and users can recreate their own unique family profile for the story they choose. Users can create so-called traditional families, or easily design multiracial single-parent families or include family members with disabilities, for instance. Much like video games that allow users to design game characters, Writing for Tiny lets users create a picture that includes siblings, aunts, grandparents, family friends, and even multiple pets. Users can add specific physical features, such as skin and hair color, when they design each member.
While she was working as a nurse, Condon began making small drawings and writing stories for the children she was caring for that explained their hospital experiences. “The kids liked it, and I started to think it could be a career,” Condon said. By 2013 Condon had received initial funding from Launch Box, an Irish tech incubator, and began working on the Writing for Tiny software.
The company has four staffers. Condon writes the stories and draws the characters used in Writing for Tiny picture books. The company’s books are small hardcovers (“inspired by the Beatrix Potter books that I read as a child,” she said), printed in color and priced at 28 euros (Americans can use PayPal to convert currency). All sales are through the Tiny website (to help tech-challenged seniors, the site also takes phone orders), and books are shipped directly to Irish customers in four to five days; shipping to the U.S. takes about 10 days. The company sold about 5,000 books in 2015. Condon is working through Enterprise Ireland, a U.S.-based service that supports Irish entrepreneurs, to increase its presence in the North American book market.
Condon is also working with pharmaceutical companies and Irish health and education agencies to create books around specific health and educational issues. Via its Tiny Health imprint, Condon said the company will distribute a book about the importance of vaccinations to the 71,000 children that will be vaccinated in Irish public schools in 2017. The company is working with three Irish hospitals to create books on diabetes and neonatal issues for children.
Writing for Tiny was designed to present family diversity. “Not all children come from the perfect nuclear family,” Condon said. “We create highly personalized children’s books about changes, worries, and milestones. Our ethos is to encourage open communication with children, inclusion in decision making, and independent thinking.”