In the Spotlight with Carisa Kluver


One of the first app review sites that I contacted when I released Penelope the Purple Pirate storybook app was Carisa Kluver of Digital Storytime.  Her review of Penelope was so well done that I ended up using one of her quotes in most of my marketing material as she summed up what I hoped Penelope represented.  “Penelope embodies many pro-social behaviors that are a good example for children to see and hear in a story.”  She even made some suggestions on how to make the app better which my developer immediately did.  Carisa has since grown her app review site into one of the most popular review sites out there!  She shared with us some of her thoughts on the industry and how it has changed over the past few years as well as suggestions to make your app the best it can be.

 Tell us why you decided to start Digital Storytime:
When I first downloaded apps to share with my child on the iPad, back in 2010, books were one of the most exciting things I discovered, but the quality varied a lot. I tried to find reviews, but at that time, there wasn’t much available online that specifically focused on book apps.
My husband was working on Android apps, but was also taking a database class, so I suggested he create a database for me to turn into a custom-built review website, just for iPad book apps. A few months after that, we had more than 100 reviews and launched the companion blog, The Digital Media Diet. A year later we added Kindle, Google-Play & Nook book app reviews, as well as a space for the best price drops on general kids apps, at
I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it has turned into quite a big job. Since I run the book review site, deal site and my blog all by myself, it’s very difficult to keep up with sometimes, but it has definitely been an adventure. :)
What are some of the changes you have seen in this industry over the past two years?
I think the market has been maturing a lot in the past two years. Some of the changes I’ve noticed:
  • higher overall quality in production values and story content (fewer really bad books come across my tablet these days, as more thoughtfully produced works are released in numbers that drown out the ‘riff-raff’)
  • more standard features & settings (at first, book apps had a lot of variation in how they were set-up, but most now have easy to use navigation, simple settings to control volume, narration, etc.)
  • links outside the app and social media integration is being done a tiny bit more thoughtfully (most apps seem to at least tuck the social media icons and app store links in a secondary menu for parents these days, although these links continue to be a real turn-off for consumers)
  • price stability (although there are a lot of quality free books, prices for paid apps seem to be stable around a bell curve between $0.99 and $4.99)
  • more content than ever (exponential growth was something I thought would slow down, but so far, the market is still exploding with new app releases every month)
  • more & more difficult to get noticed for each new app (it’s hard to rise above the noise in the app world, and the competition has also gotten more sophisticated, with more and more developers hiring PR firms to do their marketing)
  • and very hard to get reviewed (the growth in the app market has not been matched by the growth in reviewers and review sites, although this field has grown enormously, the number of apps being released dwarfs any one site’s ability to cover the whole market)
What are some suggestions to help developers create the best app possible:
I would suggest getting a lot of help, lots of eyeballs and opinions on your idea for an app and how it will function. It’s essential to be passionate about your creative content and the reason you want to make an app, but once you’ve got the basic framework in place, having constructive criticism along the way is almost as important. 
I recommend that app developers do their homework about the market and also that they simply download and play with a lot of apps. It’s really hard to anticipate what your customer might want in an app if you don’t play with a lot of them yourself to see what’s already out there.
Any news you want to share with Penelope’s mates?
We look forward to another wonderful year providing book app reviews and top 10 lists. We are often changing little things on the site to make it easier to use, but welcome feedback anytime from our readers. 
DigitalStorytime.carisa_n_zanWe hope Penelope has a lovely holiday season and a very happy new year ahead!
To read more about Carisa and Digital Storytime go to:


  1. […] time to revisit the subject of app pricing. Most book apps are now priced between 99¢ and $4.99, according to Carisa Kluver of Digital Storytime (our resident storybook app expert). Are these fair prices for storybook apps? […]

Speak Your Mind