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We interviewed Marwa Rakha, an Egyptian author and a Montessori educator, to learn about her experience with using Kotobee to create educational interactive ebooks and make learning more engaging for younger audiences.

The Challenge

Tell us about yourself and the nature of your work.

I was born in October 1974 and graduated with a degree in English literature in 1996. My career has taken various paths since then, from marketing and teaching to writing. In 2007, I began writing under my real name, covering topics like love, dating, relationships, and social issues.

Later, I transitioned into Montessori education, earning multiple diplomas and founding 'Montessori Egypt' to share educational resources and courses with teachers and educators.

As an author, I've published several books, including "The Poison Tree" and "I Deserve to Be Loved." In 2023, I launched initiatives on parenting, women's health after 40, and sexual education in Arabic.

What challenges did you face prior to using Kotobee?

Prior to using Kotobee Author, I felt disconnected from my readers. Times have changed and so have people; adults and children alike tend to have short attention spans. They are used for short posts and tweets. They can't even watch a video if it is longer than 3 minutes. Social media platforms have reconditioned our brains.

The daunting question was: How can I deliver my message while retaining my audience's interest and attention?

While I love paperback books, I couldn't ignore the fact that the cost of printing and publishing is skyrocketing worldwide. This cost is always borne by the end-user and that’s why books have become very expensive. For example, quality children's books are now priced between 300 and 400 Egyptian Pounds–only to be read once or twice. As a writer, reaching people worldwide is a priority! But sadly, the high cost of international shipping would cause the printed books to be very expensive. A book that costs LE 200 in Egypt, might end up being LE 600 - LE 700 by the time it crosses a border or two.

“Kotobee Author provided me with the exact interactive features that I visualized, including games, quizzes, links, videos, and audio clips.”

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What potential solutions did you explore which didn't work out?

I tried turning my first published book into an audiobook in 2009. I also published ebooks in PDF format back in 2010. In 2022, I attempted publishing children's books as a PowerPoint presentation exported to PDF. None of the above attempts were satisfactory. Something was always lacking. I knew I had more to offer but I just did not know how to turn my aspirations into something tangible.

The Solution

How did you hear about Kotobee?

In a moment of despair, frustration, and anger, I googled "interactive ebooks online". Kotobee Author was the first suggestion. I read everything on the website, watched all the tutorials on YouTube, and booked a free demo–all in one day!

What drove you to choose Kotobee?

When I attended the demo with Mohy Elashmoony, the most amazing customer service agent I have ever met, I had questions about a particular book that I was trying to create and how Kotobee Author could help me turn it into a fun interactive, yet educational, product. Mohy, who I thought was a partner because of how passionate and dedicated he was, provided me with all the necessary details and assurances. The day after the demo, I bought a premium license, one cloud ebook subscription, and three mini-apps.

Kotobee Author provided me with the exact interactive features that I visualized. I will list them here according to their importance to me:

  1. Games inside my book that help deliver the educational concepts in an engaging and fun way; crosswords, word search, and puzzles.
  2. Videos and 3D models - How awesome is that!
  3. Picture galleries.
  4. Interactive self-assessment questions–I have integrated almost all the different question types available.
  5. Audio clips–I can actually talk to my readers!
  6. Images that are animated in different ways.
  7. Links to give my reader more guidance and in-depth understanding.

My 12-year-old son has become my own technical support team. He managed to understand Kotobee Author in more depth, and he even used his knowledge of CSS, JavaScript, and HTML5 to make my books more appealing and interactive.

Sample Books

Is there a specific aspect of your ebook that you are particularly proud of?

In addition to all the amazing features listed above, Mohy and Adam, my son, have helped me to make my second book even more fun! With the help of Adam, the reader now gets to choose the names of the protagonists, and the new names will be reflected throughout the book.

Mohy, on the other hand, has taught me how to use the linking options in Kotobee Author to create different paths for the reader. Each path will unravel a different part of the story. He also suggested animating the hyperlinks and Adam did just that–more fun!

“Using the linking options in Kotobee Author, we have created different paths for the reader to choose from, and each path will unravel a different part of the story!”

The Results

What metrics do you use to measure the success of your decisions? Has Kotobee affected those in any way?

Ebook sales! When my first book went live, I broke even in only two weeks! Then I made a little extra money that I will use in advertising and promoting my book. User feedback is my second metric and it has been overwhelmingly positive! I’ve asked many of my clients and they are very happy with the book!

The Future

What are your plans for the future?

I bought subscriptions for 10 cloud ebooks and I am looking forward to using them all to create more ebooks using Kotobee Author.

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