Sparknotes Biography & Facts
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 on, SparkNotes expanded to provide study guides for a number of other subjects, including biology, chemistry, economics, health, math, physics, and sociology. Until 2022, when SparkNotes Plus, a paid service, released, SparkNotes did not charge users to use all of its resources. SparkNotes receives revenue from advertisements.
Barnes & Noble acquired SparkNotes.com in 2001 for approximately $3.5 million.
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.In April 2022, a paid service, SparkNotes Plus, released, locking many works from the No Fear Shakespeare series, their modern translations of Shakespeare plays, among other things, behind a pay-wall, and adding new features.
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 for students 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.
The free SparkNotes mobile app for the iPhone/iPod and Android offers:
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 FacebookCriticism
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 states that 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.In January 2019, site developers announced a complete redesign of the SparkLife section of the website in order to focus more on literature-related content. This announcement was met with a negative response from SparkLife users due to the removal of user-made accounts, blog posts, and comments.
Official website. Discover the Sparknotes popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Sparknotes books.