Children’s Books

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

JRR Tolkien falls off children’s most popular books list

4 March 2015

From The Guardian:

JRR Tolkien’s fantasy novels have been elbowed out of the annual lineup of the most popular books for schoolchildren by a deluge of dark dystopias and urban fantasies.

The seventh What Kids Are Reading report, which analyses the reading habits of over half a million children in over 2,700 UK schools, revealed today that Tolkien’s books have dropped out of the overall most popular list for the first time since the report began six years ago. In previous years, Tolkien’s titles have featured within the chart’s top 10 places, mostly among secondary-school children.

Instead, this year in secondary schools the most popular title was John Green’s tale of a heartbreaking teenage romance, The Fault in Our Stars, followed by two dystopian stories: Suzanne Collins’s Catching Fire, from the Hunger Games series, and Veronica Roth’s Divergent, set in a world where people are classified according to their personality traits.

. . . .

The report found that UK pupils’ most popular reads fell into two “distinct” categories – either dystopian fantasies by the likes of Collins, Clare and Roth, or what it described as “irreverent, larger than life anti-hero comedies” such as Kinney’s Wimpy Kid stories, Dahl’s The Twits or Walliams’ Gangsta Granny. “While the primary chart top 20 is split down the middle, featuring equal amounts of comedy and fantasy, by secondary school the ‘most popular’ charts almost exclusively feature darker conflicts from an epic fantasy genre,” it said.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

No Boys Allowed: School visits as a woman writer

28 February 2015

From author Shannon Hale:

I’ve been doing school visits as part of my tour for PRINCESS ACADEMY: The Forgotten Sisters. All have been terrific–great kids, great librarians. But something happened at one I want to talk about. I’m not going to name the school or location because I don’t think it’s a problem with just one school; it’s just one example of a much wider problem.

This was a small-ish school, and I spoke to the 3-8 grades. It wasn’t until I was partway into my presentation that I realized that the back rows of the older grades were all girls.

Later a teacher told me, “The administration only gave permission to the middle school girls to leave class for your assembly. I have a boy student who is a huge fan of SPIRIT ANIMALS. I got special permission for him to come, but he was too embarrassed.”

“Because the administration had already shown that they believed my presentation would only be for girls?”

“Yes,” she said.

I tried not to explode in front of the children.

. . . .

I think most people reading this will agree that leaving the boys behind is wrong. And yet–when giving books to boys, how often do we offer ones that have girls as protagonists? (Princesses even!) And if we do, do we qualify it: “Even though it’s about a girl, I think you’ll like it.” Even though. We’re telling them subtly, if not explicitly, that books about girls aren’t for them. Even if a boy would never, ever like any book about any girl (highly unlikely) if we don’t at least offer some, we’re reinforcing the ideology.

I heard it a hundred times with Hunger Games: “Boys, even though this is about a girl, you’ll like it!” Even though. I never heard a single time, “Girls, even though Harry Potter is about a boy, you’ll like it!”

. . . .

At this recent school visit, near the end I left time for questions. Not one student had a question. In 12 years and 200-300 presentations, I’ve never had that happen. So I filled in the last 5 minutes reading them the first few chapters of The Princess in Black, showing them slides of the illustrations. BTW I’ve never met a boy who didn’t like this book.

After the presentation, I signed books for the students who had pre-ordered my books (all girls), but one 3rd grade boy hung around.

“Did you want to ask her a question?” a teacher asked.

“Yes,” he said nervously, “but not now. I’ll wait till everyone is gone.”

Once the other students were gone, three adults still remained. He was still clearly uncomfortable that we weren’t alone but his question was also clearly important to him. So he leaned forward and whispered in my ear, “Do you have a copy of the black princess book?”

It broke my heart that he felt he had to whisper the question.

Link to the rest at squeetusblog

Here’s a link to The Princess in Black

When Characters Take Over

26 February 2015

 

Bound to Astound! Seuss Book Found!

19 February 2015

From The Wall Street Journal:

Book retailers will have more to look forward to this summer. Earlier this month came word of a new Harper Lee novel. And now Dr. Seuss is following suit.

On Wednesday Random House Children’s Books said it would publish on July 28 a rediscovered manuscript by the late Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, titled “What Pet Should I Get?”

“It’s up to the level of what one expects from a Dr. Seuss book: the humor, the wonderful illustrations, the rhyming, the imagination, all the things that are so Seussian,” said Barbara Marcus, president and publisher of Random House Children’s Books. The publishing house expects to initially print 500,000 hardcover copies.

This is the second time in recent weeks that a rediscovered manuscript by one of the country’s most popular authors has been slated for publication.

. . . .

Random House Children’s Books said the manuscript of “What Pet Should I Get?” was initially found in Mr. Geisel’s home in La Jolla, Calif., in a box with assorted text and sketches soon after he died in 1991 by his widow Audrey Geisel.

Ms. Geisel rediscovered the box while she was cleaning out his office in 2013 with Claudia Prescott, described as Mr. Geisel’s “longtime secretary and friend.” Ms. Geisel then contacted Random House by phone, said Ms. Marcus. Two Random House publishing executives subsequently met with Ms. Geisel in La Jolla to review the material. Ms. Geisel was unavailable for comment, according to Dominique Cimina, a spokeswoman for Random House Children’s Books.

. . . .

The rediscovered box included the full text and illustrations for “What Pet Should I Get?” together with enough material for two other books. “We’re working on each book and in the process of getting them ready for publication,” said Ms. Marcus.

Dr. Seuss’s works, including “The Cat in the Hat,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” have sold more than 650 million copies world-wide, according to Random House.

Lind to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

Jeff Bezos and Amazon: Making Authors Dreams Come True

28 January 2015

From author and illustrator Sue Shanahan:

 It’s become popular these days to badmouth Amazon, but I happen to love Amazon and their CEO, Jeff Bezos, in particular. They are what made it possible for me, a 59-year-old author/illustrator, to share her books with the world. After my children’s picture book apps found an audience, I longed to see them in print. I submitted them to countless publishers and agents and most times never even received a rejection letter.

. . . .

I thought having my apps made into books was hopeless until I heard an interview with author Hugh Howey. I learned that after being unable to find a publisher, he self-published his best seller, Wool, through Amazon. He explained that Amazon has partnered with print-on-demand company, CreateSpace. They make it possible for authors to upload their book files and have them printed on demand (in America no less). That means when one of my books is sold on Amazon, CreateSpace prints and ships it to the buyer, and I receive a royalty. The most amazing part of it is there are no upfront costs. The only downside for me was that the books are only available in softcover. It was easy to let go of my longing to have hardcover versions when I reminded myself of Victorian author/illustrator Beatrix Potter. She, too, decided to self-publish her childhood classic, The Tale Peter Rabbit, after having no luck finding a publisher.  Printing was so costly, Beatrix had to settle for a color frontispiece with interior black and white woodblock engravings. She was at peace with that because she knew the most important thing was to get her book into the hands of readers. I shared those same feelings about my stories.

Link to the rest at Commonplace Grace and thanks to Eric for the tip.

Here’s a link to Sue Shanahan’s books

Kids Exercising More Autonomy in Digital Content

14 January 2015

From Digital Book World:

In 2013, 89% of parents chose what digital content to buy for their kids, according to new research from PlayCollective and Digital Book World. But kids are now weighing in much more actively to determine what they read. Those purchasing decisions between kids and parents are now close to 50/50.

As PlayCollective’s David Kleeman put it at the Publishers Launch Kids Conference at Digital Book World 2015 in New York City this morning, the state of digital kids’ content is a “story of growth and maturation, of increasing trust among parents and kids’ own growing role in opting for e-reading and choosing their own content.”

. . . .

That’s despite leveling off in the device market, which is beginning to saturate. Replacement cycles of popular devices are diminishing as hardware improves, a finding that PlayCollective attributes to families having already “chosen their device of choice” and preferring now to upgrade “within the category they’ve already chosen.”

That means it’s more common now for kids to own multiple devices, continuing to use older ones even after they’re replaced by newer versions.

. . . .

Whichever the case, children’s publishers still tend to begin losing kids to other media by about age eleven, according to data presented today by Neilsen Book.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World and thanks to Jan for the tip.

Record year for children’s

12 January 2015

From The Bookseller:

The UK children’s market hit an all-time high in revenue and market share in 2014, and exceeded sales of Adult Fiction for the first time since accurate records began.

Children’s print sales through Nielsen BookScan’s Total Consumer Market were £336.5m for the 52 weeks to 27th December 2014, figures collected for the first of four Bookseller Reviews of the Year reveal. That is a 9.1% rise year on year, and exceeds the previoushigh-water mark for BookScan’s Children’s category, 2009’s £329.7m.

For the first time since BookScan records began in 1998, nearly £1 in every £4 spent on print books (24%) was on a children’s title; the previous high in market share was 2013’s 21.7%.

. . . .

For the first time, Children’s sales climbed above Adult Fiction, which slumped -5.3% to £321.3m. That is the fifth straight year the print fiction market has declined.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Growing Range of Devices ‘Kindle’ Growth in Kids’ E-Reading

8 January 2015

From Digital Book World:

As children and media researchers shift their sights from TV-centric studies to figuring out kids’ relationship with mobile and digital media, e-reading seems to be a primary focus for debate. Which is “better,” paper or ebooks? Do children learn to read differently from conventional versus enhanced ebooks? Of course, there’s always a certain amount of hand-wringing when disruptive new possibilities emerge.

But what do families think about e-reading, and how are they embracing it as part of their reading and book-buying habits? To answer these questions, PlayCollective and Digital Book World have conducted a series of surveys.

. . . .

We’ve found that while device popularity–e-readers, tablets, smartphones, computers–shifts from year to year, but the overall take-up of digital books is huge and growing. 92% of kids 2–13 now e-read at least once a week.

Parents still prefer paper books when they read with their children by almost 2:1, but kids prefer the digital option by a narrower margin.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Bestselling books 2014: the kids are alright

28 December 2014

From The Guardian:

At long last, kids ruled in 2014. Books aimed at them have often figured in the top 10 of the all-year sales chart for printed books, but in the respective heydays of JK Rowling, Stephenie (Twilight) Meyer and Suzanne (The Hunger Games)Collins the rest of the elite group usually consisted of grown-up titles and there was always a chance that one such mega-seller – by Dan Brown, say, or EL James– would pip them to the top spot.

This year, in contrast, seven of the top tier books including the No 1 – by John Green, David Walliams and Jeff Kinney, plus four Minecraft manuals – are for children or young adults and an eighth, Guinness World Records, is predominantly aimed at them.

. . . .

What’s fascinating about this is that there should be a market for video game spin-off books at all, let alone such a stunning one. There’s no shortage of Minecraft tutorials on YouTube, in its own online domain, but rather reassuringly young gamers en masse evidently felt a need for a hardback handbook opened next to their PCs – a demand reflecting the relative robustness of manuals of all types and children’s books, compared to other genres whose print sales and revenue have been hit harder by readers’ inexorable (though possibly slowing) flight to ebooks.

. . . .

Just like YouTube idols transformed into writers, reminiscing celebrities capitalise on their screen fame (usually on television) to win publishing deals; but the 2014 list confirms that the public long ago got out of the habit of seeing the resulting books as ideal Christmas presents. Besides the late Lynda Bellingham’s autobiography (12), two sports books, by Guy Martin (32) and Roy Keane (37), are the only hardback memoirs in the top 100. Yet publishers still seem in denial about the once-mighty subgenre’s slump, shelling out for much-hyped autumn offerings from John Cleese, Stephen Fry, John Lydon, Graham Norton and others that all flopped.

. . . .

More surprising is the decline of cookery titles, which until recently gave crime and children’s fiction a good fight for the highest positions. The genre’s talisman Jamie Oliver, who up to 2012 routinely occupied a top 10 spot and for several years running was the Christmas-week No 1, now languishes at No 23. Mary Berry is ahead of him at No 13, but you’d expect her to be higher, given The Great British Bake Off’s vast audience.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

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