Sunday, February 6, 2011

A few questions for our bloggers (Part 1)

1. Why are you writing or do you want to write for the e is for book blog?
2. Do you have an out of print (OP) title in mind you’d like to put into ebook or story app form? Tell us a little about it.
3. Do you use an ereader? Which one(s) and what do you read on it? Tell us what you like or dislike about it.
4. If you're thinking about getting an ereader, which one is calling to you and why?

In no particular order, today’s group of E is for Book authors will answer these questions:

Maryann Cocca-Leffler
I am writing for eisforbook to be part of a community which includes authors and/or illustrators like myself who want to learn about this new area of publishing. We can learn from each other and at the same time take more control over our own careers, creative content and rights. We are at the very beginnings of what I believe are big changes in the industry. I want to be part of it. There is power in numbers and we will make more impact as a group, as we move forward to market our own ebooks & apps.

Wednesday is Spaghetti Day was the first book I wrote and illustrated (1990). It had a great publishing run of 19 years in print. The kids that read this book are now new parents. With new life—I'm giving my book a new life! I worked with PicPocketbooks to make this book into an APP (it is very cool). I am now working with and we are close to having this same book produced in the .epub format. It will soon be available at all ebookstores as an ebook. I have two other OP books in the wings, What a Pest (which will have a title change) and MISSING: One Stuffed Rabbit. The biggest challenge for all of us is to get readers to FIND our ebooks. That is where working together at eisforbooks will help.
Click here to view Wednesday is Spaghetti Day on iTunes.
I have a NOOKcolor (which is really my daughter’s). She loves it (she's 25!) I think if I had a young child, I'd get the iPad as it has a bigger screen for picturebooks and you can share Apps and ebooks on the same device. But the B&N reader has beautiful color and is easy to use.

Freddie Levin

Peel Productions is the small independent publisher for whom I write and illustrate my 1-2-3 Draw series and my new series Draw Plus. ( They decided it was time to begin exploring ebooks and apps so they commissioned a design group to create an iPad app based on the 1-2-3 Draw books created by myself and cartoonist Steve Barr. I was given an iPad as part of the process since the content had to be created on the iPad itself. The app has gone to Apple this week for approval to be sold in iTunes so we are waiting to hear. (Is that a jump rope rhyme? A my App is at Apple waiting for Approval, B my Book is at Borders waiting for a Buyer...) Peel Productions is also experimenting with creating PDFs for our other books and finding ways to sell them in this new marketplace.

I love the iPad for its good Apple design and its clear and beautiful images. I have a birding app and a wildflower app. I can get thousands of classic books to read for free and I can travel with many books and no bulk. I wouldn't want to have only an iPad to read but I like having both a reader and real books. I only dislike that you can’t pass a book on to a friend. However, our local library has started a service that allows you to download books from the collection directly to an iPad. It's pretty amazing.

I like drawing and sketching on the iPad as well. I use a Pogo Sketch stylus that I purchased at the Apple store. It glides pleasantly across the glass surface in a way that feels very different from a pencil. I had very little success just drawing with my fingers.

I don’t have OP books but I do have ideas for board books that I am interested in turning into ebooks. I am tired of the traditional route of mailing a manuscript and waiting, waiting, waiting, then being turned down. Traditionally, board books don’t make much money but I love them. I’d like to be in charge of my own materials and see if I can’t get it out there myself. I love “e is for book” because it is giving me a chance to try and learn this new way of publishing. I’m in awe of the company, too. So much talent and know-how! I get a little overwhelmed from time to time and wish for the old days of just pencil and paper but I am trying to stay open to the challenges that are facing us all in the publishing world.

Barney Saltzberg

I LOVE the E is for Book community.  Makes me realize I’m in a group with other writers going through the same thing. I have a book called The Soccer Mom From Outer Space. It won some nice awards and I don’t feel like it ever really had the distribution it deserved. I feel like this title would definitely be something to market to all of the soccer fans in the world.

We have a Kindle in the house. I don’t love it. I miss the pages which allow you to see where you are in a different way while reading a traditional book. (I’m old.)

If you're thinking about getting an ereader, which one is calling to you and why?
  iPad.  Color.  Smart design. It’s APPLE. It’s smart. The titles they are developing for children are closer to what I would like to be doing as an author/illustrator.

June Goulding
I haven't written anything for the eisforbook blog yet, but I may do so in the future. I don’t feel I understand enough about the new technology to add to the discussions yet. [note: June has been very helpful behind the scenes with technical info about Blogger.]

I do have some OP picture book titles, but I haven't had time to consider how they could be adapted for apps. I have been sketching some new app ideas too, but nothing is ready for sharing yet.

I have illustrated two children’s books which are already available in app form. Sunny Bunnies and Breezy Bunnies—both books are written by Margie Blumberg and published by MB Publishing. My illustrations were created for the printed book, but they have been adapted beautifully for the book apps by PicPocket Books. They remain true to the printed book, but include audio narration, highlighted text, swipe pages and touch screen sound effects. Click here to see Sunny Bunnies on iTunes.

I don’t have an ereader. I still like to hold printed paper books, but I know people want to be able to buy books in many different formats, for as many different reasons. Publishing will need to offer that choice.

I don't have a Kindle, Nook, iPhone or an iPad, and I don’t use a Mac computer, so I am currently unable to beta-test the recently released app development software from InteractBooks. This is quite frustrating! For this reason, an iPad would probably be my ereader of choice if I could justify buying one to work on my own book apps! It would also appear to be the most versatile tablet for my needs as an illustrator/designer. Whilst it would be exciting to design a whole project from initial idea to finished app, I realise there may be a considerable learning curve. It might be that I decide to leave the app developing to the professional developers, and just concentrate on creating the illustrations and the ideas myself!

I would also like to see how children’s books display on the NOOKcolor. It appears to be more of a child-friendly reader, which is something that will be needed as more apps are created for the children’s market.

Loreen Leedy
I was researching all this digital book info anyway, so why not share it with my colleagues as well as other interested parties and in turn learn from them? So far, the E is for Book blog has been working better than we could have imagined to inspire and inform us all.

Of my approximately 40 picture books, there are several that are now OP. One candidate for a digital version is
Tracks in the Sand, which tells the life-cycle story of sea turtles. Here is the jacket and a close-up of the artwork in a post I wrote on my studio blog last year. The question is, should it be a straight conversion into a static ebook, an enhanced ebook with narration and ocean sounds, or an interactive app with little turtles scampering across the sand? (Or all 3?)
My current ereaders include a Kindle for the Mac app (to read on my desktop computer) plus an iPod. The latter is too dinky for me, but between the two I’ve been able to get a reasonable sense of what’s available in the iBooks, story app, and Kindle format. 

Ereader devices...the iPad looks wonderful, but expensive. The Kindle is primarily for text-oriented books, which is not what I’m currently creating. The NOOKcolor looks pretty good, its price is better. I’m very interested in the app-creation software that is coming out, so if any of those work out, that will influence any future ereader purchase.

More blogger responses are coming tomorrow in Part 2. See you then!

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