The Cost of Being Online

| March 11, 2014 | 6 Comments

This post is simply one to ‘set the record straight’. I have been running, on my own, a review site for nearly four years now that focuses exclusively on book apps for kids ages 2-12. The site is

Many of you are familiar with it or even regular users.

This website, our deal site ( and the blog you are reading now ( are not technically ‘non-profits’ because we don’t file taxes as such, but these are ALL endeavors which bring in no reasonable income for any of the writing and reviewing we feature. This is an entirely volunteer effort, for all intents and purposes. Our bandwidth costs more than the income we get from having the average of 3 ads that we carry, paid, on our sites at any given time. Expedited reviews defray a tiny portion of the cost, but only of the time it takes me, our sole staff member, to spend time with an app and write about it – but that’s about it.

We average 2-3 expedited reviews/month because we are very picky about our content and have editorial standards that are not based on our bottom line. We have equipment costs, too, including an expensive Mac mini that scans prices for our sites, in our home, four times a day. We do this because it matters to us and we care about the literature kids are reading in a digital environment. We are parents and run this site primarily for other parents, educators & librarians. We did not found these sites as a source of PR for app developers. I love collaborating with content creators and helping them make the best products possible for little people, but I am not in the business of ‘selling apps’.

I am so sick of people contacting me and asking for support, promotion or other ‘help’ promoting their eBook or app without any regard for my personal time. You are not ‘doing me a favor’ by telling me about your new app, asking me to tweet about it or feature it for my readers. You are not offering anything, let’s be clear. I am not a journalist (not that I wouldn’t like that moniker, but I don’t get paid in any way for my writing, so it isn’t accurate). Any notoriety I have or influence I wield is entirely from the efforts I have put forward in this new industry, not something other people can buy or bargain for. Anyone willing to put in the kind of effort I have over the past several years is welcome to critique my work and I will listen. However, most of the criticisms come from people who have no idea what it takes to maintain a blog, keep an audience and gain respect in a new industry.

If I can do it, anyone can. But by that same measure, if I am willing to put in the real effort, you too will be expected to pay your dues. “New Media” is no longer a “new industry” … it is maturing and only the more mature players will be around in the near future.

Okay – done venting! How was your week? ;-)

Category: 100+ Reviews ... What I've Learned So Far, All About Apps, Our House

About the Author ()

Carisa Kluver is the the editor of, an iPad children's book review site. She has a BA in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and an MSW from the University of Washington. Before starting this project, she was a school counselor, health educator and researcher in child & maternal health.

Comments (6)

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  1. Roxie munro says:

    Excellent, and totally understandable, rant, Carisa. Can’t even imagine how much you get hit on. It’s incredible what people ask for. You do such a conscientious and great job, but do they feel entitled, or do they think the idea these days is that anything goes and they might as well give it a shot, even though you have to deal personally with each contact and/or email?…I think you are right to segue into lecturing, consulting, library services, etc. (I actually was composing a generic email response today, which I’ll probably never send, after yet another person pounced trying to get something, saying: I don’t write or illustrate or review or promote or pitch other people’s ideas. You are probably too kind…do you have a basic answer /generic response for them? Or, best probably, ignore …)

  2. Roxie munro says:

    That said, of course you, and I, do support those of our associates who are doing good work, reciprocate, and deserve it! (And have paid their dues….a big factor, I think.)

    • Roxie,

      Your comments are totally on the mark (as usual)! The hardest part (for me) is ignoring all the correspondence. But in a digital age, it can be difficult to tell what is an original plea, send only to me, vs a form letter that developers send en masse to hundreds of sites.

      In the end, I often have to treat all emails as if they are just spam because there aren’t enough hours in the day to sort through it all properly. But then I hear how disheartened people are about the ‘radio silence’ they get from personal appeals to review sites. The problem is that most content creators need to do mass emails and most (sane) websites need to ignore mass appeals.

      My hope is that as the market matures it might also narrow a bit so consumers and reviewers can actually manage the quantity and quality – but this means a lot of valuable contributors will give up as they realize that this is a challenging market for anyone trying to make a living.

      In the end, I feel like I am doing more of a service by training librarians, doing parent education programs … the consumer landscape is years behind the current tech and it may get worse before it gets better, especially with so much fragmentation for digital content.

  3. I”m sure that it helps to know how much your work and efforts are appreciated, Carisa. From the standpoint of a curriculum content creator in the U.K., my own efforts comply with your vision of providing the best possible content for little people, parents , teachers and librarians. Your information is always current, incredibly helpful and something to be valued. Thank you, or diolch yn fawr, as we say in Wales!

    • Thank you Eiry! It is supporters like yourself that help keep my spirits up. Every year I think I will close down and go back to an off-line life that is more sane, but then I realize my site is still needed – and fills a unique role. I appreciate your support more than you know!

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