Wonderbly, the personalised book publisher backed by Google Ventures and best known for the breakout hit “Lost My Name,” is unveiling Wonderbly Studios in a bid to make it easier for other brands to offer personalised and bespoke printed books on-demand.
Initially, Wonderfully Studios will work with select partners to provide access to its personalisation API and help create new books using its technology and expertise in the space. However, longer term, Wonderbly co-founder and CEO Asi Sharabi tells me the plan is to continue developing the platform and eventually open up the whole thing so that anybody can offer high-quality and data-infused personalised books via its API.
“Selling high-quality personalised products — products that extend beyond the trivial ‘put my name on a mug’ — is no easy task,” he says. “Meaningfully personalised products and businesses are still quite complex to operate at scale. You need a rendering stack, integration with a local print house, couriers, customer support and more. These technical and operational hurdles are a barrier to entry.”
Sharabi adds that although Wonderbly is aware of some “cool” personalised book ideas already on the market, he says that very few are reaching meaningful scale. “We hope to change all that with our personalisation platform and provide a fast, seamless experience with responsive previews and high-fidelity physical products for multiple and complex personalisation logics,” he says.
The first project to come out of Wonderbly Studios is an interactive journal from Wizarding World (the Official Harry Potter Fan Club), which is a joint venture between Pottermore Ltd. and Warner Bros.
The “Keys and Curios” journal is described as full of interactive surprises and secrets that can be unlocked using the Wizarding World app. It incorporates a fan’s name, house traits and more to take them on a unique journey through the wizarding year.
The book’s contents were written and designed by the Wizarding World Digital team, and feature images from across the Wizarding World, artwork by illustrator Jim Kay and specially designed Hogwarts house covers by MinaLima (the graphic designer design team behind some of the visuals from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films).
Meanwhile, the personalisation technology, e-commerce integration and on-demand printing/logistics is powered by Wonderbly.
“The end customers interact via the partner’s e-commerce stack,” explains Sharabi. “These stacks (e.g Shopify or Magento) were not built for personalised products and customisation. Adding this functionality is hard — we know, we’ve been doing it for five years. This is why we developed the Wonderbly Personalisation API.”
Products created on the Wonderbly platform can deliver a “limitless amount of creativity, constrained only by imagination,” says the Wonderbly CEO. That’s because Wonderbly takes cares of a lot of the remaining heavy-lifting.
“Products are rendered in real time at scale for customers as part of the shopping experience,” explains Sharabi. “The platform handles the complexities of integrating with e-commerce systems in a developer-friendly way, making it a simple task to add a personalised product to a cart. When an order is completed a simple web hook ensures that the products are rendered, printed and shipped to the customer, while feeding into our partner’s systems for progress notification and customer support.”
The breadth of personalised books we might see come to market as Wonderbly Studios opens up further is impossible to predict. That’s because the full range of potential experiences is something that no single person or team could ever imagine, which, of course is the whole point.
As Sharabi previously told TechCrunch, you can’t scale creativity in the same way as tech — you have to allow creativity to come from anywhere.
“What if you can create a customised art, poetry or recipes book at the same ease you make a Spotify playlist?” he asks rhetorically. “What would gaming printed yearbooks look like? What if travel guides and language acquisition become more personalised? What if you can order an ‘I was there’ personalised keepsake for live gigs and festivals? These and more are questions that get us very excited.”