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Color: 15 Hour Anybook Reader|Change
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Last month, a new product from Franklin Electronics called AnyBook Reader was launched. It is aimed at the working, busy or traveling parent, far-away grandparent, or any other long distance relatives, who want to bond with a child even when they are apart. It's an interactive reading device that allows you to read & record any book in your personal library in your own voice and then allows your toddler (who may or may not know how to read yet) to follow along with their favorite books and your voice, so that you're reading the book instead of the Nanny!

AnyBook can be purchased through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. There is a 15-hour version ($39.99), and a 60-hour version ($59.99).

Ok, now that you have seen the press release let me tell you all about it.

AnyBook comes with a selection of blank stickers for recording your voice. There are also stickers that have sounds recorded in them if appropriate to the book (dog, firetruck, rain, crying, etc). The stickers are made to be removed and won't ruin your pages. You can even re-record on them or order more if you run out.

You touch the button on the pen to start the record mode. You hear a few beeps and it is ready for you to record. That's it! So easy!

Last week I quickly and easily recorded two books so that I could carry it everywhere with me. My first stop was the school where I was meeting with my son's teachers and therapists.

I opened the first book and put the reader to the sticker. They heard the book being read through the pen and then I opened the next book to show them how the reader will read anything I record into the sticker. They all looked at me in amazement.

I was asked, "how do you get the recording". I explained that I touch the pen to a sticker that I place on the page, the pen counts down and I record the page into the pen by reading. They actually thought it was Ruby on the Max and Ruby book so they were at first confused. When I told them it was me doing characters that is when they were all amazed.

Everyone stated the same thing; they have seen other readers out there but you have to literally buy books from the maker of the pen. That is what makes this pen so much better! You can literally read/record your children's favorite books and they can hear you read to them anytime.

It is the easiest thing and so personal. I love this idea for military families especially but I think this is great for anyone. Perhaps your children don't get to see their grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends often. They visit you once or twice a year. They could read a book or two for the child into the pen and your child can hear them anytime they want.

Another friend had asked about the stickers and if they can put on other things. Sure, why not. This got me thinking how great this would be for a baby learning speech or perhaps someone trying to learn another language. Place the sticker on anything, record what it is and the person can actually learn speech.

What a great gift idea. Imagine a child on your Christmas list opens a book of books with the pen that you have already recorded the books on! This pen says "love".
0Comment|25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 3, 2013
A little help for first time users / buyers . . .

I work in information technology with several different types of technologies, so I get used to all the different engineering quarks that occur on every product. I can honestly say this device is in the top of my list of poorly engineered devices at this price point. The concept is fantastic and the positive reviews are warranted, but it takes some patience to get used to at first. Here are the reasons for my criticism.

You have to hold down the record button during recording. If you want to record a short book with one record sticker, your thumb will get really tired leading to cramping, and accidently letting go, stopping your recording. Wish you didn't have to hold down the record button to keep recording.

You can't add recording to a sticker once you let go of the record button, you can only re-record the sticker - so if you accidently let go of the record button during your recording, you have to re-record the entire / page(s) or book depending on your preferred method. Wish you could add to a record sticker.

To start recording there is a four beep count down that can take around 3 or 4 seconds to start. If your child is a first grader with only a handful of words per two pages, you'll find your child waiting for countdowns longer than actually recording. If you try to do more than two pages per record sticker your child will run into my first complaint of accidently letting go of the record button while turning the pages or by thumb cramping as I experienced when trying to complete a short book using one record sticker. In my experience my first grader was spending more time waiting for countdown beeps that actually reading the two pages. Wish there was a way to modify the countdown . . .

Too many buttons have multi functions. To put the device in record mode, you have to hold down the power button until the LED starts to blink (after the device is already on). To record you have to hold the volume up button while "holding it down" to stop recording you let go (Don't forget to touch the record sticker first or you'll accidently record over the previous touched record sticker). To take it out of record mode you have to turn it off. To delete a recording you have touch the record sticker and then hold down the volume up and volume down simultaneously while the recording is playing until it stops and beeps. To delete the entire device if you lose the record sticker - I don't know couldn't find it in the instructions. Are you confused yet? It took several attempts to get my first grader to comprehend how to use it - not sure how it will go once he's at Grandmas. Wish they would have added a few more buttons to make things kid friendly.

I understand the purpose of this device, and I will actually keep it for a while since it's highly recommended by schools, but I wonder if purchasing a small recorder would have been easier for my son, I could always find a blue one and put some stickers on it to spice it up.

If you have some patience and look at the overall value of this product, I like it a lot, but I just wish engineering would have spent some more time looking at the functionality of it. It's the second version of the product so things should have already greatly improved.

UPDATE: 7/1/13
We made the decision to return it to Amazon. After several weeks it became apparent the pen was hindering our sons performance, despite the interaction of back and forth readings and motivation recordings. The cut off or missing recordings were more of hassle. It was taking twice as long to read, and our son was losing focus as he would constantly let go of the button. As an adult, I too found it uncomfortable and awkward to hold the button while making recordings. I'm sure it depends on your child's abilities, but our son didn't have the thumb strength to benefit from this product.

Franklin needs to start a new design with a start and stop feature for recording, that feature alone would make this product 10X better.
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on February 8, 2013
This is a good concept, yet the instructions and help that accompany the product and you find online are not complete. It is pretty straightforward in telling you how to record on the device, but they fail to tell you that you cannot move the recording from the device to the computer/bookcase unless the device is connected by the USB cable to the computer. You have to have access to the computer to be able to "share" the book you recorded with others.
Recording a book on the device takes about 8 to 10 steps: Get the book, get the magnetic stickers, put the stickers in order on the pages, turn on the device, go into the record mode, touch the magnetic sticker, press the record button, wait until it beeps 4 times, record directly into the microphone about 3 inches from your mouth, read the page/add your comments/sing a song, release the record button. Then you touch the next magnetic sticker on the next page, press the record button, wait for 4 beeps, record your reading the page/etc., and then release the button.
However, if you want to record the book into the computer for sharing and retrieval later, there are several preparatory steps you have to take. You must connect the USB cable to your computer, connect your device to the cable, (first time... install the Anybook Case software), register you device, register a login to the Anybook Case Server (to share, have an offsite retrieval place, etc.), select a "New Book", do all the info about it, decide if you want automatic numbering of the labels or put in the range you place (the labels have numbers on them),.... then you do the recording steps. This means that you have to do this sitting at your computer... if you want to archive them as "books" and share/access them at a later time.
I bought this so that I could buy my grandchildren who live overseas books here, record my reading them, ship the books and one device to them, have the parents install the Anybook Case software, login to my account, and download new books that I recorded and sent them. Then at a later date, record with my device, save them to my server account, ship the stickered books that I recorded, and let them download the recordings to their device overseas and let my grandkids hear me read the books/making funny comments/ making conversation.
Sounded like a good idea until I tried putting into practice this idea. Perhaps when I get into the "groove" and do it a few times it will be easier. The thoughts of recording in my recliner and then downloading the books have vanished however.
To tell the truth, I am a network/computer advanced person and there is nothing "intuitive" about this reader and setup. I called Franklin's help line and the guy that is familiar with this product was not in that day. I'll have to wait over the weekend to get a callback from Mr. Applebee. I am guessing that this is so new that very few have experience with.it.
The quality of the recording as heard from the tiny speaker is typical of tiny speaker quality.... not very good. But your voice is recognizable and understandable if you record loud and close enough.
Let me hand this to my 2 year old and see how easy it is for him to learn it... wait a minute.Okay, after a few times to show him how to touch the stickers and not touch all the pictures, he did pretty good. Turned the pages and touched the stickers. Liked the prerecorded thunder and chickens.
It is not the same as being there, but they get to hear their PawPaw reading and commenting!! I could sing a song if I wanted to... Ha!
I take one star away because the directions and software either are not up to date or malfunctioning.
I will probably still try what I intended with my overseas grandkids.
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on January 20, 2011
The Franklin AnyBook Reader was a gift for my 3.5 year old son this past Christmas. It was so fun to have different members of the family record a book over the holidays. Now that we're back home away from family he is excited to hear their voices each time he listens to a book.
The product is easy to use and my son knows how to work it as well. The best thing about it is you can use it with ANY book and don't have to buy certain ones. When my son isn't using it, I will also take it to work with me to use in my second grade classroom. Very cool!
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on November 17, 2010
Finally! ... a reader that is not limited to buying those special reading systems and the accessories for them. This is like the reading pens, but you can use the books you already have or would rather have for your children AND you record your own voice into it. So, you can personalize the story using your kids' names or by using your own character voices. It comes with sheets of removable stickers that are used to identify your recording. For example, you adhere a sticker on each page of your book. Then, you turn the reader on, touch the sticker with the reader to activate the sticker and then you record your voice reading the page. It also comes with an assortment of pre-recorded stickers with sounds on them (animals, phone ringing, clapping, etc.) to add to the story. My kids have fun with it. You can get creative with it, too. I can totally see myself eventually using this for their school items, crafts, albums, etc.
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on May 8, 2013
I can't believe I haven't heard of this product before, it's genius! My son is learning to read and constantly wants my husband and I to read books to him. We were happy to do so, until my son got turned on to the 100+ page per book "Captain Underpants" series. It's a cute series (we bought them all), but requires quite the time commitment to read through, and my son wants to read them constantly. I searched online for "reading pen," and found this. All the other systems required special books, so they were not Captain Underpants-friendly.

To record, you turn on the pen, hold the power button for 3 seconds to go into "recording mode," touch the sticker, then hold the volume-up button while you record that page (I only put stickers on the left side and read both pages to conserve stickers). Then you let go of the button, put the sticker on the next page, and repeat. Then hold the power button 3 seconds again when you're done recording to exit recording mode. Very simple. Directions for deleting recordings are equally simple, and the stickers can be removed/changed so you can move them if your child gets sick of a particular book. The stickers are reasonably priced, though, so I already ordered some extras. Only the white ones and pictures of faces can hold recordings, the others contain sound effects that you can add as desired. They seem to be easy to move/remove from pages as the company claims.

The only cons: the sound quality isn't great, especially when you're reading louder or making loud sound effects. It helps if you don't hold the pen too close to your mouth while you're talking. Even then, not super quality, but my son doen't seem to mind. When you're holding the button while recording, sometimes it "rocks" back and forth a little which results in a loud clicking sound on the recording. This is the biggest problem I've encountered so far.

Overall, it's a great value. When you consider that it costs $25-30 for those "record your own" Hallmark books that contain only one story, and you can record about 10 with this depending on length of the book (it comes with 22 sheets of 20 recordable stickers, I think), it's a much better deal. When you add the fact you can use it on any of your child's favorite books, it's a slam dunk. It's also a great gift idea for a child that can't yet read or has parents who sometimes travel. A+++!
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on September 17, 2014
This electronic reading pen is one of the best learning tools I've bought for my kids! It far surpasses the leapfrog tag reader, because you have the flexibility to record any book, in any loved one's voice. The sound quality is a little lacking, but a few things we do to make it better. First, turn the volume down-- the louder it is, the more crackly and muffled it sounds. Second, make sure to hold the pen farther away from your lips as you read and record. I instinctively want to hold it close to my mouth to make sure it can catch every word, but it sounds much clearer if you hold the pen 8-10 inches away from your mouth.

I purchased this pen just before my husband left on a long deployment, and he recorded himself reading a few of his favorite books to the kids. We now have a nice little basket with all the recorded books, some he read, and some that I've read. I plan on asking all the grandparents to record a book or two for our collection when they come to visit. The stickers aren't just for books though. Just before he left, my husband had the brilliant idea of hiding stickers around the house-- in the closet, on the bathroom cabinet door, by the front door. My kids love running around the house, listening to their "daddy dots" and it warms my heart to hear my husband's voice saying funny things to the kids, or telling them to brush their teeth, etc. Another great way to use the pen-- we have 2 large maps on the wall in our homeschool room, one US Map and one world map, and I placed stickers on all the significant countries and states to our family. I also started putting dots on the countries that we are learning in our geography curriculum. It's fun for the kids to find the state of New York, tap on it with the pen, hear the state name and capital, and which of our family members lives there. The stickers can also be placed on flash cards, for early readers or toddlers who are just learning letters, they can practice for a few minutes by themselves. I can't say enough about this pen, and how much fun it's been for our family. The one thing that would be nice would be a way to see how many hours of recordings you have used and how many you have left. I don't think we've come close to the 60 hour limit yet, but it will be interesting to see what we'll do when that happens. Get another pen I suppose. :)
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Last month, a new product from Franklin Electronics called AnyBook Reader was launched. It is aimed at the working, busy or traveling parent, far-away grandparent, or any other long distance relatives, who want to bond with a child even when they are apart. It's an interactive reading device that allows you to read & record any book in your personal library in your own voice and then allows your toddler (who may or may not know how to read yet) to follow along with their favorite books and your voice, so that you're reading the book instead of the Nanny!

AnyBook can be purchased through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. There is a 15-hour version ($39.99), and a 60-hour version ($59.99).

Ok, now that you have seen the press release let me tell you all about it.

AnyBook comes with a selection of blank stickers for recording your voice. There are also stickers that have sounds recorded in them if appropriate to the book (dog, firetruck, rain, crying, etc). The stickers are made to be removed and won't ruin your pages. You can even re-record on them or order more if you run out.

You touch the button on the pen to start the record mode. You hear a few beeps and it is ready for you to record. That's it! So easy!

Last week I quickly and easily recorded two books so that I could carry it everywhere with me. My first stop was the school where I was meeting with my son's teachers and therapists.

I opened the first book and put the reader to the sticker. They heard the book being read through the pen and then I opened the next book to show them how the reader will read anything I record into the sticker. They all looked at me in amazement.

I was asked, "how do you get the recording". I explained that I touch the pen to a sticker that I place on the page, the pen counts down and I record the page into the pen by reading. They actually thought it was Ruby on the Max and Ruby book so they were at first confused. When I told them it was me doing characters that is when they were all amazed.

Everyone stated the same thing; they have seen other readers out there but you have to literally buy books from the maker of the pen. That is what makes this pen so much better! You can literally read/record your children's favorite books and they can hear you read to them anytime.

It is the easiest thing and so personal. I love this idea for military families especially but I think this is great for anyone. Perhaps your children don't get to see their grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends often. They visit you once or twice a year. They could read a book or two for the child into the pen and your child can hear them anytime they want.

Another friend had asked about the stickers and if they can put on other things. Sure, why not. This got me thinking how great this would be for a baby learning speech or perhaps someone trying to learn another language. Place the sticker on anything, record what it is and the person can actually learn speech.

What a great gift idea. Imagine a child on your Christmas list opens a book of books with the pen that you have already recorded the books on! This pen says "love".
11 comment|9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Now there are not many nights that I miss storytime with my boys before bed, but there are the few nights I do and there are times when they want to read a book by themselves. I am not saying there is a total substitution for a parent reading to their child, but their is a device that can now help out a little. The AnyBook Reader by Franklin Electronic Publishers is a device that allows a parent (or another significant adult) to read a book into a microphone-like device and record themselves reading the book. What is nice about the AnyBook Reader is you can use it with any book in your child's library and you can use it with multiple books at one time! (There is a 15 hour and 60 hour version.) You place a small sticker on the corner of the book pages and record each page individually, then your child can tap the sticker and hear you read the story! So no more buying special books and/or cartridges, just buy new stickers when you run out. The stickers use a special glue that won't damage a book and can be removed at any time. A pack of stickers is $9.99 and contains 10 sheets of ready-to-program stickers, each containing 20 stickers for a total of 200 stickers. You'll also get 4 new sheets of sound-effect stickers (80 more stickers).

Setting up a recording and deleting a recording is very easy, almost too easy that I thought for sure I was forgetting something! The stickers are easy to remove but unless your child really picks at them they should stay on just fine. There is a little feedback in the microphone so make sure the room you do the recording in is very quiet (like naptime or after bedtime!) I really though like this idea and it is so easy and quick to do. I could have a basic book done in minutes from adding the stickers to the pages to recording it. What makes this product really unique though is that it is your own voice that you are recording, so not a strangers or a robot voice. This would be especially great for a grandparent to record (and easy for them to use), a deployed military parent or other family member. My sons got a kick out of hearing my voice and now its funny they look for the white stickers in all their books! The AnyBook reader may be a little bit more upfront than other readers (about $60) but its your voice and its any book your child wants! Really you could use these stickers on anything you want to record a message on - the possibilities are endless!
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on December 16, 2012
Franklin's Anybook reader is a great way to leave your voice for your grandchildren--you can read books into the reader or write your own stories, read them with your voice and your grandchild can listen and follow along with the story. You can also personalize books by adding your childs name or other details about their lives. The reader holds 15 hours of books or you can get the 60 hour version--my granddaughter loves it and her parents and other grandparents can add to the reader with their voices leaving a legacy for the child of voices of the people who love her.
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