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Developer Interview with Jennifer Elin Cole of Cookie Bear Press

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Jen, Thank you for participating our interview. Please tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in South Bend, IN, went to college at Washington University St. Louis, then moved from St. Louis to ATL in /93 where I now live with my three kids, two big dogs, two also big cats, and one husband. I help rescue Great Pyrenees and have fostered 19 dogs with Great Pyrenees Rescue Atlanta (GPRA). I am an avid Notre Dame fan and a Disney person. I love traveling, especially to make memories with (and for) my kids. I don’t really enjoy doing laundry or dishes and welcome any diversions from those tasks so please, Like I Love You All The Time on FB, message me, and save me from the washing machine and dishwasher.

How did the idea for your app come about?

I Love You All The Time is the iPad version of the Cookie Bear Press board book by the same title. My now 18 yr old niece was born in CA; when I visited from Atlanta, I used to tell her “Aunt Jenn loves you all the time, when we are in the garden, when I’m on my airplane, when we are swimming…. and each scenario always ended with “even when you can’t see me, I love you all the time. I wanted her to know that my love didn’t leave with me at the end of a visit. After a couple of years playing this word game, my mother said “you girls should write a book about that,” referring to myself and my twin sister. We wrote the rhymes then discovered Bonnie Bright, our incredibly talented illustrator. I’d nicknamed my niece Cookie Bear so, in 1999, we founded Cookie Bear Press, Inc. and released I Love You All The Time. There are now over 300,000 copies in print.

And how long was the process from the original idea to the release of the app?

About a year. I understand a standard development time to be about 6-12 weeks but as this was our first iPad App, and we’ve had so much wonderful feedback from people over the years about the book version, we really took the time to create an iPad version that would enhance the board book, not replace it.

Did you hire a developer or do it yourself?

This was a team effort in every single sense of the word. Cookie Bear Press was extremely fortunate that our illustrator Bonnie Bright was available to do the iPad animation; that Dave Rees contributed his sound and musical skills (he wrote the original title song!); and that thinknerve, llc embraced the code development. The highly acclaimed I Love You All The Time iPad App exists because of this very specific combination of artists and technical professionals.

What has been the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome in the development process?

Imagining and deciding what people would hope to see in, what they would expect to be able to do with an iPad version of such a beloved book. Your first reaction is to go with what seems likable to you, or what your friend with the 2 yr old enjoys about his other iPad books but that doesn’t always work. I Love You All The Time had earned a loyal following over the years and even though we couldn’t contact each of those readers, we wanted the App to meet all of THEIR expectations. The most hardest obstacle was determining the right balance of animations, sound affects, and special features so as the enrich the board book experience without making the book itself obsolete.

Have you had much support during the development process (from family, peers, Apple Inc.)?

Yes, family and friends were supportive and excited about the concept of Cookie Bear Press, releasing an iPad version of I Love You All The Time. However, the greatest support came from the development team. Their willingness to answer every question, think through various scenarios, share their experiences in contributing to other Apps was invaluable.

What are your plans for the future? Will you be developing any more apps?

Our first goal is to establish I Love You All The Time as a global classic, either as an iPad App or as a sit-on-my-lap-and-read-to-me board book, but yes, we do have plans to release additional iPad Apps.

What sort of feedback has your app been receiving so far?

Exceptional. The professional review sites, such as theimum.com have raved about the quality, the artwork, the interactivity, and overall value at $1.99/download. AppMyWorld reported I Love You All The Time was a Top 5 iOS App in it’s second week, based on reviews posted across the internet. We’d love to have individuals add their personal reviews to the current 5 star rating in iTunes!

And finally, what advice would you give to anyone considering creating their own app?

Take advantage of existing resources, rather than guessing at the best way to do something. Reach out to other developers, budget for a beta test prior to release (that was SO helpful for us), and try to be as objective as possible. When you are to close to a creative project, it is easy to loose sight of what appeals to endusers. When people ask this question related to publishing their children’s book, the response is very similar: just because your mother or your kids’ friends love the story, doesn’t mean someone across the country, or around the world, will buy it. Be realistic about how your idea fits into the current assortment of Apps; be able to tell someone why they should download your App rather than anyone other App. Identify what makes your App idea unique, what value your App idea brings to a very crowded marketplace, and then make sure all of your development decisions enhance that uniqueness and that value.

Thank you so much for talking with us today and sharing a bit about your company. We really

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