Type of site
|Owner||Barnes & Noble|
|Created by||Sam Yagan, Max Krohn, Chris Coyne, and Eli Bolotin|
|Slogan(s)||"When your books and teachers don't make sense, we do."|
|Alexa rank||5,109 (April 2014[update])|
|Launched||September 1, 1999|
SparkNotes, originally part of a website called The Spark, is a company started by Harvard students Sam Yagan, Max Krohn, Chris Coyne, and Eli Bolotin in 1999 that originally provided study guides for literature, poetry, history, film, and philosophy. Later, SparkNotes expanded to provide study guides for a number of other subjects, including biology, chemistry, economics, health, math, physics, and sociology. SparkNotes does not charge users but instead earns revenue from advertising.
TheSpark.com was a literary website launched by four Harvard students on January 7, 1999. Most of TheSpark's users were high school and college students. To increase the site's popularity, the creators published the first six literature study guides (called "SparkNotes") on April 7, 1999.
In 2000, the creators sold the site to iTurf Inc. The following year, Barnes & Noble purchased SparkNotes and selected fifty literature study guides to publish in print format. When Barnes & Noble printed SparkNotes, they stopped selling their chief competitor, CliffsNotes.
In January 2003, SparkNotes developed a practice test service called SparkNotes Test Prep. This project was followed by the release of SparkCharts, reference sheets that summarize a topic; No Fear Shakespeare, transcriptions of Shakespeare's plays into modern language; and No Fear Literature, transcriptions of literary classics like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Scarlet Letter into modern language.
SparkNotes Test Prep provides content and services related to the ACT, and AP, GRE and PSAT/SAT I and II standardized tests. Barnes & Noble sells printed versions of the test prep study guides, as well as SparkCharts and other printed study materials, in the United States and at Chapters in Canada.
The SparkNotes.com website also includes a section students can use to search for colleges.
SparkNotes has moved into educational publishing with books, such as Poetry Classics and FlashKids, a series of educational books for Kindergarten to grade 8 students. They also provide exercises for high school teachers.
SparkNotes also has a section called SparkLife, a social section focused on non-educational topics for teens and young adults. This section of the site includes blogs, advice columns (most notably by "Auntie Sparknotes"), contributed posts, and Open Threads, which members can use to chat with one another without commenting on a specific post. The regular users of Sparknotes are called "Sparklers." Other features include "Blogging Twilight" by Dan Bergstein, movie reviews, articles about current events, and helpful tips and facts.
- 50 pre-installed study guides in the app library
- Hundreds of study guides available for viewing online
- The ability to download any study guide to the mobile device for offline use
- The ability to share what one is studying and one's status by checking in with a customized post to Facebook
||This article's Criticism or Controversy section may compromise the article's neutral point of view of the subject. (September 2015)|
Because SparkNotes provides study guides for literature that include chapter summaries, many teachers see the website as a cheating tool. These teachers argue that students can use SparkNotes as a replacement for actually completing reading assignments with the original material or to cheat during tests using cell phones with Internet access.
SparkNotes says it does not support academic dishonesty or plagiarism. Instead, it suggests that students read the original material, and then check SparkNotes to compare their own interpretation of the text with the SparkNotes analysis.
- "Sparknotes.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
- "A Brief History of SparkNotes". SparkNotes. SparkNotes LLC. Retrieved 2008-02-04.
- "Barnes & Noble inc - BKS Quarterly Report (10-Q) Item 1: Financial Statements". Edgar Online. 18 June 2001. Retrieved 2008-02-05.
- Martin, Stacy (5 September 2004). "SITE SPECIFIC-www.sparknotes.com". San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco: Hearst Communications Inc. Retrieved 2006-03-19.
- Borja, Anais; Lester, Amelia (18 October 2001). "The Rise and Success of Sparknotes". The Harvard Crimson. Harvard: The Harvard Crims0n Inc. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
- Bowman, James (8 August 2003). "Murder Most Foul". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
- "SparkNotes Mobile Apps". Retrieved 12 September 2012.
- Simnauer, Lauren; Dumler, Christie (20 June 2007). "There's room for sparknotes, too". The View. Zip Publishing. Retrieved 2008-03-24.[dead link]
- John, Sutherland (2 June 2000). "US students log on to the Internet for a cheat's charter". Guardian Unlimited. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 2008-03-25.[dead link]
- Eger, Andrea (22 February 2008). "Students love study guides". Tulsa World. World Publishing Co. Retrieved 2008-03-02.
- "Competition for CliffsNotes arrives on the scene. Later, a popular study supplement called "Kramnotes" were put into circulation. Today they serve as one of Sparknotes top competitors. – in print". The Christian Science Monitor. 25 June 2002. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
- Saltz, Molly (2 January 2006). "No, it's a cheap shortcut that does no one any good". The Register-Guard. Eugene, Oregon, United States. Retrieved 2008-03-25.
- "About SparkNotes". SparkNotes. SparkNotes LLC. Retrieved 2008-02-06.
- Kestler, Justin. "Help:The Plagiarism Plague". SparkNotes. SparkNotes LLC. Retrieved 2008-02-06.
- Miller, Erin (2 January 2006). "Is SparkNotes worthwhile? Yes, used properly it can enhance our education". The Register-Guard. Eugene, Oregon, United States. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
- Nguyen, Kim Ngan (2 October 2003). "SparkNotes A Hit With High School Crowd". The Denver Channel. Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
- Formato, Brynne (5 February 2004). "A quick study: online sites speed up reading". The Mirror. Fairfield, Connecticut, United States. Retrieved 2008-03-25.