Storybooks are essential parts of children’s lives; books that are read to children when they are little are likely to be remembered for a lifetime and instilling a love in reading young increases the chances of people becoming life-long readers. Within the children’s book industry, personalized books–that is, stories that contain a child’s name–have been popular for a number of years yet recent advances in technology have made this format more inclusive than ever. Lost My Name is one company that is using technology in this way.
Lost My Name is a publishing and technology start-up that is blazing new frontiers in story-driven personalized entertainment for kids. Lost My Name is a unique, award-winning studio that lives at the intersection of storytelling, engineering, digital and print. The company combines the power of stories with the possibilities of technology to create magical, personalized experiences for children. Lost My Name champions bonding moments between parents and children, and wants to make story times across the world more magical.
What started as a pet project for three dads and an uncle to figure out a more compelling way to create a personalized book experience has quickly exploded into one of the most successful children’s publishing endeavors of the past year. It has also been rapidly growing in the U.S., which has now become the company’s biggest market, with the book tracking to be one of the top selling picture books of the year. In 2015 the company reached the milestone of selling one million copies globally of its first title “The Little Boy/Girl Who Lost His/Her Name” which was launched in 2014 and quickly became the darling of the UK publishing.
“The Little Boy/Little Girl Who Lost His/Her Name” is a stunningly illustrated adventure of a girl or boy who wakes up in the morning to find his or her name is missing, prompting a wild quest to find it. Along the way, they meet some weird and wonderful creatures, such as a forgetful Elephant, an insomniac Bear, a grubby Hippo or an existential Yeti. Following a witty dialogue each creature gives the child the first letter of its name, until hey presto! the child finds her/his name. There are hundreds of different story variants in their database from which the personalization software utilizes to create truly unique adventures for every name. The book is currently available in several languages including English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch and Italian.
In the past two years, “The Little Boy/Girl Who Lost His/Her Name”, has emerged from obscurity to become the bestselling picture book in the UK, Australia and Canada and is the highest grossing picture book in six markets including the U.S. The idea for Lost My Name was conceived by Tal Oron, Asi Sharabi, David Cadji-Newby and Pedro Serapicos – 3 dads and an uncle, who wanted to use the personalized book format as a genuine creative canvas, rather than a mere gimmick.
In October 2015, they released their second story titled “The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home” which follows a child and their robot friend on an amazing adventure from the depths of outer space to their own front door. The experience is different for every child as aspects of the storyline and imagery are personalized based upon where they actually live from the country flag on the spaceship and the view of Earth from outer space, to seeing familiar pictures of key country, city and town locations as the adventure gets closer to its conclusion where the child returns to their actual home address. The story is further brought vividly to life utilizing NASA’s open source photography of outer space, and mapping technologies that enable a close-up flyby of the child’s actual neighborhood and landmarks near their house!
Tal Oron, Co-Founder at Lost My Name said: “As a technology company, we’re very proud to be innovating on one of the oldest media formats in the world – the physical book. We think technology equals possibility. And possibility is the dominant currency in wonderful, nostalgic storytelling, where the book’s job is to inspire children to believe in adventure; that anything can happen if they imagine it. As screens become more and more seductive to children, there is an increasing need to inject more magic into books – to find new ways to spark their imagination.”
Recently David Cadji-Newby, author and co-founder of Lost My Name, spoke to the Examiner about his experiences running the company and his hopes for its future:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): When was Lost My Name started and why was that specific name chosen?
David Cadji-Newby (D.C.N): Lost My Name started about three years ago now. The name was chosen because our first book was called “The Little Boy Who Lost His Name” or “The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name” and because the title’s a bit of a mouthful, and we talked about it so much, we used Lost My Name as a kind of shorthand. And it just stuck.
M.M.: Right now how many story directions can Lost My Name go in? Do you plan to expand to more?
D.C.N.: It can go in all kinds of directions, though the governing principle right now is that the stories are always personalised. We’re trying to create a whole new category, using personalisation within stories to create greater emotional resonance for readers. But apart from that, we can go in any directions. We’ve already written about your name and where you live, so next could be your family, or your age… Anything that’s personal and meaningful for children.
M.M.: How do you think up ideas for your story plots? For example, do you ever work with writers or is it all created in-house?
D.C.N.: We work with other writers and illustrators, run workshops, talk (a lot), and do plenty of research. You never know where a good idea’s going to come from.
M.M.: To date, what has been the most rewarding part of working with Lost My Name?
D.C.N.: Because we do everything in house, from book creation to marketing, operations, and customer service, we’re really close to our customers and always hear their feedback. So the most rewarding part of working here is hearing from all the happy kids and parents, who love the book and love the reaction kids have to it.
M.M.: Where do you hope Lost My Name will be in ten years?
D.C.N.: I hope it will be a by-word for wonderful, magical books, just like Disney is a by-word for children’s films.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is striving to enter the publishing industry?
D.C.N.: Keep going! It’s very hard to break into, and writers read rejection slips far more often than they do glowing reviews of their work. Believe in yourself and your writing, keep getting better and improving, and don’t give up.
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Lost My Name is a hugely data driven company. To celebrate the 1,000,000 milestone they crunched some data to discover how naming trends around the world are reflected in the books they’ve created. Their books are generally priced at $29.99 and worth every cent given their unique subject matter and extremely high quality–the illustrations and text is truly captivating and is sure to delight adults and children alike. To learn more, visit their official website.