Home » Apps, Children's Books » Picture Book Apps and the Case of the Vanishing Author

Picture Book Apps and the Case of the Vanishing Author

25 March 2015

From Digital Book World:

Many children’s book authors aren’t huge fans of the so-called “picture book apps” or “story apps” entering the children’s market at ever increasing volumes. One reason why is because they aren’t authoring them.

. . . .

The problem begins, in many cases, with a misunderstanding about what book apps for children actually are. Plenty of veteran authors consider apps—sometimes without ever having seen one—to be animated cartoons, games or entertaining videos. As a result, too few experienced children’s authors explore how to adapt their talents to take best advantage of the opportunities digital content affords them.

In fact, most picture book apps on the market today are (if to varying degrees) “translations” of printed picture books. But what interests me more are the digitally born stories conceived and developed with app production in mind.

There still aren’t many of these. In my own research on those that are currently on the market, I didn’t have to look at many apps to conclude that, just as children’s authors tend to snub picture book apps, many app developers overlook children’s authors.

Picture book apps often don’t even cite a writer. When they do, the author is likely the animator, designer or developer. I can fully understand the rationale for publishing copyright-free book apps—digital titles based on stories in the public domain: Why invest in original content when what you’re primarily working out is functionality?

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Apps, Children's Books

12 Comments to “Picture Book Apps and the Case of the Vanishing Author”

  1. Technology can be used for good or for EVIL.

    My oldest child learned to spell her name by typing it on my phone while texting her grandmother. She typed out every word, no short cuts.

    My oldest learned to read with physical books and now she reads some books on an e-reader.

    When we use technology to help with tasks, that’s a good thing. When we use it IN PLACE of something else, (good parenting), then it becomes a problem.

    I am guilty of using the TV as a babysitter, but my kids watched Sesame Street, Word World and Super Why, which I think helped them learn to read at an early age. (I also read to them every night.) There are good shows and bad shows and consumers need to be aware of that, instead of assuming all technology is good/equal.

    • Indeed. I’m put in mind of the studies that claim computer use by children is correlated with poor academic performance, without looking at what the children are doing with the computer.

      Are they playing Grand Theft Auto twelve hours a day, or are they writing, researching, creating art, learning a language…? That actually matters. 🙂

  2. When we use it IN PLACE of something else, (good parenting), then it becomes a problem.

    I totally agree, Diana. My son loved Word Girl on PBS, and it greatly improved his vocabulary.

    On the other hand, I’m a prime example of what happens if you let your child watch Star Trek and Batman while you are cooking dinner.

    • “On the other hand, I’m a prime example of what happens if you let your child watch Star Trek and Batman while you are cooking dinner.”

      But Susan, those are good things. And now you’ll be able to entice young’uns to watch the new episodes of the X Files.

      Dan

      • That’s a ways off.
        (As is SUPERGIRL)

        On the other hand, THE FLASH is here now.
        Or, with Hulu or Netflix: DS9.

        Never too early to get kids interested in SF&F and the gateway variants. 😉

  3. Al the Great and Powerful

    Woohoo, Star Trek and Batman, represent!

    • I was more of a GREEN HORNET fan.
      (Kato!)
      But Trek?
      Yup.
      The animated version was way cool, too.

  4. Al the Great and Powerful

    We were severely limited in watching TV as young kids… only when a parent was present to supervise. That regulated the amount of information-free content we could get.

  5. Picture book apps often don’t even cite a writer. When they do, the author is likely the animator, designer or developer.

    Am I reading this story wrong? I see this as saying that there are twice[1] as many authors as there were before these apps – the traditional authors, and now the authors of these apps.

    Why invest in original content when what you’re primarily working out is functionality?

    Absolutely inconceivable that an animator, designer or developer could ever write original content. Then again, that seems like incredible cognitive dissonance when the author of the article describes herself as “develop[ing] multi-platform, multimedia web solutions and apps… [and] writ[ing] picture books…”

    Then again, “Her graduate thesis and lecture at Vermont College of Fine Arts were both about picture book apps.”, this may be a better explanation for the purpose of the article.

    [1] – for some value of twice.

  6. Publishing finally figured out a way to get rid of those troublesome authors. Gimlets all round!

    • Except they haven’t.

      Apps, games, and video all have writing staffs working to create new or adapted material full time. For many of the bigger game franchises the backstory for the games is several novels’ worth.

      And at most of the reputable developer companies, they are fully credited for their work. On really big games, like the recent DRAGON AGE INQUISITION, the writers for specific characters and their story arcs are individually credited for their efforts. To say nothing of the spinoff prose novels some franchises support. HALO, MASS EFFECT, and DRAGON AGE are all gaming worlds open to non-gamers via prose novels.

      There are now more writers making a living out of their creative writing than at any time before. And it wouldn’t surprise me if there were more of them within the video and digital domains than within traditional publishing.

      Writing is writing, no?

      And all that is just fiction.
      Technical writing in the software industry is a whole ‘nother lodestone of jobs for wordsmiths, both staff and freelancers.

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