Monday, February 28, 2011

From out-of-print to ebook—a progress report

In the early 1990s I wrote and illustrated Tracks in the Sand, which tells the life-cycle story of sea turtles. It was named an Outstanding Science Trade Book by the National Science Teachers Association and it’s long seemed likely candidate to bring back to life via a digital edition.

In the last few weeks I’ve been scanning the original artwork into Photoshop and changing the proportions of the pages to get rid of the overly wide shape of double page spreads. This  will allow the pages to fit better onto both regular computer and tablet screens. It has required moving some sea shells and turtle heads around, but it seems to be working out. The (not final) text layouts were done in InDesign. Here is a miniature flip-book showing a few pages—click on the right corner to turn the pages:

 
(If you’re reading this post in Google Reader or similar and can't see the little book, click on the post title to come to the blog.) The technology...surprise!..has been a bit of a pain. I’ve been playing with the page-turning effect, for example, and can get it into a PDF (cool!) But, once you get to the last page, the only way to get back is to laboriously flip back through every page again. (After digging around on the ‘net and various forums and trying all sorts of work-arounds to get some kind of navigation, I would love to be proved wrong so somebody, please do.)

If we forget the page-flipping (which is a Flash animation) and use a fade effect instead, it looks nice plus it’s possible to add a nice Start Over button at the end, yay! By using a PDF I can avoid having the hassle of putting it into EPUB format (required to sell it in the iBookstore.) That’s because the iBooks app allows you to add PDFs (cool!) But, in testing today, when you bring the PDF into the iPad, not only does the Start Over button not work, it gets disappeared entirely (boy, Apple really does not like Flash!) But, at least Tracks looked nice and the iBooks navigation was okay.

Whew, it’s all been a bit exhausting and I’m not 100% sure what the next step is, but at the very least I learned how to make very cool digital flip-books of my print books to put on my web site. Here are a couple more here and here. If anyone is interested in how to make one, I put a tutorial on my books blog. Here is a close-up of one of the hatching turtles taking a little break from the hassles of eggscaping... is he cute or what?

 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

What Do You Do When an eBook Won't Die?



HarperCollins recently made news for proposing a 26 checkout limit on their ebooks from public libraries.
Click here to read the article in Library Journal.
GalleyCat also covered the story.
This is crazy, right?
The blog Librarian in Black thinks so.
Same goes for BoingBoing.
Check out #hcod on Twitter for more reactions.
One one hand, basic ownership rights seem to apply. When a library buys a book, they own it, right? It isn’t the fault of libraries that ebooks never die. I like the idea that if we purchase a Beezus and Ramona ebook for my library, we own it forever. Well, ebooks are a bit different, as you don’t actually “own” an ebook – just the license for one.
But I can see where HarperCollins is coming from in terms of wanting to maintain the status quo.
I recently re-purchased almost every Ramona title for two of my school libraries. They were getting on in years, grungy, and were in need of a cover refresh. This sort of thing goes on at every library around the country. It isn’t a scam – the books break down over time or start to look dated and new copies are needed.
Now imagine if every Ramona book, at every library, never needed to be purchased again. No matter your opinion on ebooks, that’s a huge change.
But this 26 checkout business reminds me a little of Kurt Vonnegut’s short story Harrison Bergeron – it feels like an artificial handicap that can’t last.
Where do you stand?
(Top Image: ‘eBook Readers Galore‘ http://www.flickr.com/photos/43017881@N00/5052936803)

Friday, February 25, 2011

My iPad App, or How I Spent My Summer Vacation



Lo, it has come to pass that the world of publishing is not what it was. Once a happy, busy illustrator/author of children’s books, I, a ‘woman of a certain age’ got the memo: Time to reinvent yourself, yet again. “Wasn’t it enough that I learned Photoshop?” I whined. I remember it as if it were yesterday, holding a zip disk in my hand and asking: “Is this the thing you put in the slot?” I used to brag: I earn my living with a pencil! Please now add: and a very expensive laptop, a scanner, an Wacom tablet, a digital camera, a printer and various high end software programs.

But the business that once paid the bills, sent my son to college and kept me well supplied with bags of Maple Nut Goodies was sliding badly. The flood of educational publishing spawned by the controversial program, No Child Left Behind, was dwindling to a trickle. Borders, a regular buyer of my books, was experiencing financial difficulties. Fees for illustration were starting to look pre-war (you pick which war).

But e-publishing was booming. It was booming at a breathtaking rate. I suddenly found myself midstream in a surge of information I could barely take in. I didn't even know where to begin. (Insert more whining here) I figured maybe this was a time to bow out. Remember the proverbial guy who made great buggy whips but went out of business when cars replaced horses? That's what I felt like. The Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones.

Then Peel Productions, the publishers of my series, 1-2-3 Draw, called. Would I be interested in my Draw books becoming ebooks? Sure, said I. Would I be interested in the Draw books becoming a basis for an iPad app? Why not? There was nothing much like it on the market so far. I had nothing to lose and besides it sounded cool. They actually sent me an iPad.

We had many international Skype calls. We tried different types of styluses (styli?). We went back and forth with the app developers about design. (‘Too Nickelodeon’ became a code word for ‘simplify’.) We added and then deleted animations. I had to learn to draw on the iPad and there was definitely a learning curve. The stylus has a clubbed tip and feels very different from a pencil. (Insert more whining here.) There were tons of problems loading the images via DropBox so that the text could be edited. We tested and de-bugged and de-bugged again. We waited and waited for Apple to approve our app. Which they did. But the program was not working smoothly so it had to be taken out of iTunes and debugged again. And then: Voila!
Our app, 1-2-3 Draw, featuring drawing lessons from myself and cartoonist Steve Barr is finally launched. Now comes the hard part: learning to use all the newfangled ‘social networking’ to market our wonderful new product. (Insert more whining here.)

To see this app’s page in iTunes with a detailed description and screenshots, click here.
Freddie Levin

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Picture Book apps - shorter is sweeter

Papa Gatto ap
As a picture book author/illustrator with 80% of my books out-of-print, I am leaping onto the Digital Train as it roars past my corner, with the prospect that many of these stories could be available once more. Last year I purchased my first iPhone. Then, I heard about apps (whats?) of picture books that read stories on the phone and showed the pictures from the book. Too cool! I decided to query an iPhone app producer, PicPocket Books. The owner, Lynette Mattke, was (happily!)  a fan of my fairy tale picture books, and she expressed an interest in creating apps for Papa Gatto and The Crystal Mountain, for which I have had the rights reverted.

The Crystal Mountain app

I really had no idea how my work would translate to this medium. I downloaded Merry Christmas Curious George and Mr. Tickle—two of the early apps created for the iphone, and I studied them to see what exactly was being done.

Since PicPocket was developing my apps with their own dime, I wanted to give them the freedom to create the product they felt would work the best. They created my two apps so that the story is read while seeing the text alone scrolling on the page, then the page turns, showing the picture alone with no sound. I liken it to when a teacher reads a page of a story to a group of children, then turns the book around to show them the picture. It works, and they did a lovely job on the production, but I feel that for a young child it would be preferable to have pictures on every page. The challenge is how to do that with a very long story, and all of my books tend to fit in that category. For the iPhone, and my long books, it would be close to impossible to achieve that goal, unless the text did not appear on the page while the story is read.

In Curious George, there is an option to have no text shown on the page. The story is read as different parts of the picture are panned, zoomed in on, etc. This becomes more of an audiobook with pictures, similar to the story DVDs produced by Nutmeg Media. (They produced my Goldilocks and Mother Goose and Friends.) My books would work well like this, though many parents I’m sure would prefer the text to be shown, to encourage a child to begin to learn reading. The Mr. Tickle app uses the same picture for a number of pages, but zooms in closer each time, with a few lines of text at the bottom of each page. It is interesting that while neither Curious George nor Mr. Tickle are particularly long stories, they still had to be reformatted with extra pages of zooming and cropping, in order to work in a small format like the iPhone.

My conclusion: shorter is sweeter, for iPhone picture book app stories. Because my stories are quite long, (and my pictures don't lend themselves to animation and other interactive app elements) I am now choosing to concentrate on producing ebooks versus apps, for the rest of my OP titles (though I'd still like to explore doing an app with pictures panning in and out and no text while it is being read.) The e-readers are larger (iPad and NOOKcolor and more appearing all the time) The books will still need some re-formatting, cropping, zooming, adding extra pages, so the text will not appear too small. I want to be very careful and make sure what I produce is a pleasing design, with pictures on every page, as well as being easy to read. I will also be buying lots of ebooks and studying how other people are solving these issues.

This is such an exciting time. The dawn of a new way to share stories with children. There will always be parents that want to cuddle up with their child and the paper product called a “book,” but soon more and more parents will be cuddling up with their child and the NOOK or iPad, loaded with a library's worth of stories. I'm hoping a few of my books will be in that library. And maybe there will still be a few printed books on the (actual vs virtual) shelf as well.

Ruth Sanderson
www.ruthsanderson.com

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Books Rising Up from the Dead DUST

By now we've seen the stats: ebooks comprise 7% - 10% of the market today, but some project that ebooks could gobble up 50% of the market by 2014. And we've all read about some indie writers selling Kindlefuls of self-published ebooks or even cracking the USA Today Bestseller List.

I'm not one of those people who believes that traditional publishing is doomed. I do believe, however, in hedging my bets. And of course I'm not the only one.



Kids and teens haven't yet taken a huge leap into ereading, but that day will be here soon enough. Canadian writer Art Slade decided that the phrase "out-of-print" didn't have much meaning in a world of ebooks, and chose to epublish some of his old titles, including the Edgar-nominated mystery Dust. Why would a Governor General's Award and TD Canadian Children's Literature Award-winning novelist with a successful traditional career want to do this?

"Two main reasons," he wrote on his blog . "One is that these books were out of print in various countries, so I could at least be making an income from them. The second is that right now in the publishing world there is great, numbing fear about the changes coming to the industry via ebooks (umm...update the changes are here) and, frankly, the e-rights being offered by major publishers are not very generous (to make it simple if I sell an ebook through a publisher I make $25% of net which on a $10.00 book would be $1.75. If I upload that same book to amazon myself I make $7.00). Obviously there are a multitude of factors on why a traditional contract is still very much in the cards for a new book ("paper" books are the vast majority of my sales and, at this moment, the sales of the Children's market, publishers have promotion budgets, editors, sales staff, etc.) For my out-of-print books it was an easy decision to go it alone. "

Art is a techie, proactive kind of guy, and he makes it sound pretty easy. Because experimenting with OOP titles seemed like a no-brainer to me as well, I also decided to put my OOP novel, Lily's Ghosts into ebook form myself. But there are a few hurdles. To epublish an OOP title, you'll need:

1) The Rights. Because Lily's Ghosts is an older title, contracted when the Kindle was just a twinkle in Amazon's eye, my agent had little trouble getting my rights back. But just because you held onto your erights doesn't mean you can produce an ebook on your own. If your book is still in print, non-compete clauses could prevent you from self-publishing. Check your contracts! And if you're a picture book author, you'll need to ask your illustrator to request his/her rights back, too.

2) An ISBN: Platforms like Amazon's Kindle and Lulu will assign you an ISBN, but you can also buy a block of your own ISBNs at Bowker, the official ISBN agency of the US. In the UK and other territories, the official agency is Nielson.

3) New Cover Art. Unless you're a designer, I'm not sure doing your own cover art is the best idea. Art Slade decided to hire an illustrator to work on a new cover, and gives the names of his cover illustrators on his blog. Be conscious of the fact that ebook cover art has to look striking even in thumbnail size. Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest has 10 tips for effective book covers here.

4) The text of the book. I'll be using a Word file that I just finished copyediting for clarity (and because I CANNOT STOP TWEAKING). But existing physical books can be scanned and then converted for publication. If you're comfortable with techie stuff, like Art, you can format your files and upload them yourself, or you can hire someone to scan/format your files for you.

Finally, you'll have to upload your files to the various ebook platforms. Amazon's Kindle is the best-known, but then there's uploading to iPad, B&N's Nook, Sony's ereader, etc. Yes, there are folks you can hire to do this for you, too (usually the same ones who format the files). Or you can use a program like Scrivener to export your file as an ebook.

I'm sure I've only touched on some of the issues involved, and I'll be blogging more about the process soon. In the meantime, despite the chaos in the publishing and bookselling industries, I'm happy that we'll see more fabulous books rising up from the dead dust oh, you know what I mean.

-- Laura

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Top Ten iPad Storybook Apps from Kirkus Reviews

As a follow up to our conversation "Who decides what an App or eBook should be?" here's a video of Kirkus' top picks from 2010. What do you think? Do you agree these are the best storybook apps, or do some of them cross the line into being games? Kirkus definitely seems to prefer apps with interactivity, but can that truly be called a review for a storybook?

Thanks to Emilie Boon for the heads up!
- Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Friday, February 18, 2011

A gaggle of links about making iBooks

Or should it be a labyrinth of links? Anyway, in rummaging around the ‘net for info about making various ebooks, oodles of good articles keep popping up. The first three are by Terry White, Adobe’s Creative Suite Evangelist:

Creating iBooks (EPUBS) by Terry White for LAYERS magazine.
This step-by-step tutorial uses InDesign CS5.

Creating My 1st iBook for the iPad with Adobe InDesign CS5
This is an older post, but there’s quite a bit of info, including a video tutorial with some of the same info as the link above. If you don’t have an iPad yet, you can read it on your computer with the free Digital Editions reader.
The InDesign template for the book is available to download, and a link to a PDF with very specific info about putting your iBook for sale in the iBookstore.

What Do You Want To Publish To Tablet Devices (iPad)?
Believe it or not, in this recent post Adobe is asking what kind of documents you want to publish, so give them your feedback. The comments already on there are very interesting.

From Blurb:
How to Make an iPad Photo Book by Ben Clemens
As the article notes up front, this tutorial requires “light” coding skills…can’t comment at this point because I haven’t tried it personally. The sample book of photos could easily be a picture book, of course. This tutorial doesn’t cover putting text in the EPUB. They promise that an easier solution will be forthcoming from Blurb.

From Liz Castro’s blog, Pigs, Gourds, and Wikis:
Fixed Layout EPUBs for iPad and iPhone
Translation for children’s book folk: How to make full-bleed picture books for the iBookstore (which was not an option until recently.) Liz Castro has written a miniguide on this topic that is a companion to the more comprehensive EPUB Straight to the Point. Like the previous link, the miniguide is full of coding which I’m optimistically hoping to figure out, since I bought a copy.

Why do I want to know this? I’d like to reissue an OP book of mine about sea turtles called Tracks in the Sand. Below is one spread:
I wrote a longer post about converting this book on I.N.K. (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids.) One funny thing about iBooks is that there is a fake gutter shadow in the app, so you have to take that into consideration. The blue line in the image is to remind me of that while resizing the artwork to fit into the overall shape of the iPad. I didn’t want to letterbox the artwork if possible…so far, so good. If and when I figure out iBooks, I’ll write about the details. (Keep your fingers crossed for me!)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Who will buy the cheese sandwiches?

Lots of reports coming out of the Tools of Change Conference which finished up yesterday. Writer Margaret Atwood presented this year, offering a different, more nuanced perspective than the relentless and ubiquitous "Technology is full of awesome!"

Atwood talked about the importance of book creators, and wondered aloud, “From the point of view of an author, if the future of the Internet is free, who is going to pay for the cheese sandwiches on which authors are known to subsist?“ You'll find more about Atwood's presentation here.


(Photo courtesy PDPphoto.org)

Ron Hogan, the founder of the litblog Beatrice, seems to agree with a lot of what Atwood had to say. He wrote up his thoughts on the TOC Conference at Shelf Awareness. His write-up includes this incredible bit:

"On Wednesday morning, Kevin Kelly of Wired blithely said, "I can't really figure out what books should be more expensive than a song, and I don't think consumers will believe that, either." Thus he predicted the price of e-books could fall as low as 99 cents, as easy technological reproducibility strips away the value of a work of art, forcing creators to turn to "that which cannot be copied," such as immediacy, authentication, personalization and embodiment. One of the slides he used to illustrate this new economic model? A live music performance."

In other words, it's okay or at least inevitable that books will be stripped of all their value. We book artists make up for any lost income by entertaining folks with our authentic and immediate repartee, opening kissing booths, and playing the interpretive flute.



It seems that not everyone was advocating that book creators turn into pageant contestants (thank goodness). Some emphasized "Transmedia storytelling." That is, creating stories that could be translated from books into websites, apps and other forms (something that many of us at eisforbook are already trying to do.)

According to a piece in Publisher's Weekly, Jeff Gomez, president and CEO of Starlight Runner said, “books get respect; they’re the crazy grandpa that Hollywood executives keep in the basement. Hollywood was born out of books.” And game designer Flint Dille "emphasized that while authors and publishers should focus on creating solid stories for books, they should also realize that every idea is essentially media agnostic."

Frankly, trying to develop stories across different media sounds like a better idea than flute lessons. Though I have to admit I'd pay to see Neil Gaiman try something like this:



-- Laura Ruby

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Can you read me now?


In the midst of all these changes in publishing, it's the Verizon commercial that keeps coming to mind. It's the one with the can you-hear-me-now" guy.

At first, I couldn't quite figure out my obsession. And then I realized I was thinking, "Can you read me on that?" "Can you read me on that?" every time one of my friends -- my very ordinary, non-techie friends -- pulled out another device.

I'm probably a bit obsessed with it -- that Verizon refrain keeps running through my head like a rendition of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall." But I'm a writer with absolutely NO books available on any other device, except for paper. And paper books no longer seem like they're doing a complete enough job of reaching readers.

This is mostly because the people pulling out the devices don't seem like egg-heads, early adaptors, gotta-have-the-latest gadget type folks. I tell you, whatever is going on seems solidly in the mainstream to me, and I'm pretty sure my books are being missed.

For instance, one of my friends -- a mom -- got her first smartphone a month ago. (And to emphasize her non egghead status: Before this, she just had a cell phone -- like for making phone calls, and that's all.) But this year, when her contract ended, she chose an Android smartphone and she raves about the thing. She loves the apps. She loves that she can take photos with her camera. She was very excited that she could get the Kindle app. "Is your book on the Kindle?" she asks me.

Smartphones must be the perfect gadget for busy moms, right?

This winter, the Minneapolis Star and Tribune published this article: "Older Readers Kindle Fondness for e-readers". An 82 year old and a 67 year old loving their e-readers. Any book you want in large print. You don't have to carry all those books from the bookstore, the library. And if the weather is bad, don't risk it.

And what about the religious? I've noticed that a lot of Christians like e-readers because they can travel with their bible and devotions and lots of books to read. An example is Noel Piper, wife of John Piper, of Desiring God Ministries. And it's not just the Christians -- people of many faiths want to keep their sacred texts with them and have good literature to read on the commuter train.

You're seeing it too, right? I'd love to hear your stories.

Anyway, all this to say that if I have an opportunity to get my book in a digital format, I'll do it. And I'd like it in multiple formats for multiple devices -- Kindle, epub, ipad, iphone, and print-on-demand (in paper) seem like a minimum. (Please tell me what I'm missing.)

As a writer, my first goal is this: to be read, to be found, to be available.

Can you read me now?

Amy

P.S. Photo is of a spot along the Cumbria Way in England. Honestly, if you're doing a long walk across England, it's probably best not to be found. Unplugging is good.


iPhone now has The Trappings Of A Real Toy

If you thought iPhones were too breakable in the hands of a child, check this out. Fisher Price has created an iPhone case especially with little ones in mind. In fact, the case encourages them to shake the iPhone.
     They've even come out with a string of "Laugh and Learn" apps that take advantage of the new 'shake it up' nature of the case.
     What do you think, good idea?
     See a demo at: Fisher-Price Gives Your iPhone The Trappings Of A Real Toy

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A dedicated ereader: hundreds of dollars. A great story: priceless.

I'm a lowbrow coffee drinker. I don't get the whole vente-latte-double-espresso-cappucino-half-soy-low-foam-caramel-spice thing. Especially when the vente-latte-double-espresso-cappucino-half-soy-low-foam-caramel-spice thing costs close to five bucks. A week of those, and I've already spent way more money than I'd need to buy a fabulous new release from a favorite writer. To me, a few cups of coffee just aren't worth that kind of money.

A great story, on the other hand, is something I'm willing to pay a lot for.

Not everyone agrees. My mom, a woman who buys truckloads of mysteries and thrillers each year, told me that she wouldn't spend more than ten dollars for a book, not even from one of her go-to authors. Amazon's on her side. Remember that last February, Amazon and Macmillan had a throwdown over ebook prices, which Amazon wanted to cap at $9.99, and which resulted in Amazon pulling the “buy” buttons off all Macmillan titles for a weekend*. (If you're like me, and can't remember what you had for lunch yesterday, you can refresh your memory at writer Scott Westerfeld’s blog.)

For others, $9.99 is still way too expensive. $4.99 would be more reasonable, they say. Or $2.99. Or 99 cents. I don’t know how many times I’ve read on this blog or that blog that ebooks should be dirt cheap** because there are no printing, warehousing, or shipping costs. Another argument for cheaper prices is that the value of a printed book is tied up in its physicality, and that ebooks are more ephemeral. That a "sale" of an ebook isn't a sale, it's a licensing agreement.

In response to a blog post on Teleread.com the commenter "Common Sense" put it this way: "As a consumer, I understand that I’m leasing an ebook and that I don’t own it outright. That’s the main reason the price should be so much lower, it just doesn’t provide the same value as a physical book that I can resell, loan as many times as I want to, or give away."***

Now, I like a bargain just as much as the next person, so if I could legally get Kate DiCamillo's or E. Lockhart's or Libba Bray's latest for 99 cents, I'd snap it up in a second. But, as companies like Amazon and Macmillan and Apple hash things out amongst themselves,**** more writers dip their toes self-publishing, "experts" debate sales vs. licensing, and other folks voice very real concerns that changing technologies could render today's ebooks unreadable tomorrow I worry that books are being devalued in the process.

Contrary to popular belief, the costs of creating an ebook aren’t that much less than the cost of creating a print book. Writers will still take months or years to write a novel. Editors, designers, and typographers are still necessary to produce a professional-looking piece that can be read on numerous devices.

And, in the case of interactive picture books and children's apps, the cost of production could actually increase. The more functionality you want in your app, the more art is needed for animations and effects. As Katie Davis mentioned in her first post, the cost of developing a good children's app can be astronomical, especially for the individual artist.

Even simple reprints of older titles require some investment. New cover art, file formatting and conversion, and the cost of any marketing or promotion.

So, is the value of a book tied up in its physicality? In its resale value? Or is the real value of a story in the experience of the story, whether you're reading it on a page or a screen?

How much is a good story worth?

The answer, I think, is different for different people. Which leads me to believe that there isn't any one price that will work for every title, every time. I can imagine first editions that are more expensive, such as enhanced ebook editions with "extras" like author interviews, videos, additional content and/or samples of other titles (even free titles that the publisher deems the reader may enjoy). Perhaps cheaper mid-priced editions with no extra content. Even heavily-discounted titles offered to cash-strapped libraries*****, or free editions supported by ads. All of this makes sense in a diverse marketplace in which people have varying budgets and varying levels of interest and need.

Or, if we could just get people to give up all that fancy coffee...

-- Laura



*Yes, this happened last year, but any ebook retailer could do it again at any time.

**And there are a few people who truly believe books should be free. Information wants to be free, they say, books are information, thus books want to be free. Plus, people are going to steal them anyway. Free the books! Free artists from the pressure of making art to suit a capricious market! Of course, I wonder how all these free books are supposed to feed all the "freed" artists.

***Then, is an audiobook more akin to a piece of music than to a book?

****Eventually, Amazon caved into Macmillan’s demands for what's called an agency model which allows Macmillan to set the price of the book rather than Amazon. But the kerfluffle exposed Amazon’s attempts to corner the market on ebooks by offering popular books at bargain prices (even if Amazon has to take a loss on each title, which they do).

*****Part of a librarian's mission is to create a collection that endures, so libraries often purchase "library editions" of new releases, that is, the most expensive edition sold. That doesn't make sense if a library is purchasing ebooks, though one wonders about how long files can endure.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Librarians & ebooks... some concerns

There have been 20 comments (so far) on Laura Ruby’s post It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel…? One comment that caught the attention of e is for book bloggers came from a librarian, Ms. Yingling:

“My question is this: if students start using e-readers and e-books, how are librarians going to serve as readers’ advisors? It’s a huge part of my job, and I’m having trouble getting my mind around not handing children actual books!”

Comments and questions came quickly from our authors:

“Ms. Yingling, I wonder why it would be different to advise on a title that's being read electronically? Are you talking about something technical like page numbering?”
Mo Manning

“Ms Yingling- Perhaps librarians might think about ‘advising’ and suggesting books through their own library BLOG or Facebook page. If you can't beat ‘em—join ‘em. It may even be a good way for these e-book lovers to discuss books online and maybe even have the kids review them. You will become a famous cool ONLINE Librarian.”

Maryann Cocca-Leffler


“Ms. Yingling, In my opinion, librarians like you are going to become even more important in this age of the digital book. Just as the challenge for authors and illustrators will be to ‘get found’ in the potential sea of apps and ebooks, it will be just as important for readers to ‘find’ good books. Reviewers, hand sellers, and librarians will become key in wading through all the options and picking out the best choices. You may not be holding an actual book in your hands when you recommend it, but for that reason, your recommendation will be more valuable than ever. My 2 cents, e.”
Elizabeth O. Dulemba


“I agree with Elizabeth: your recommendation will be more valuable than ever!

I just read on the YALSA blog about a YA librarian who caved and got herself a Kindle after her library started lending Kindles to students (who were enthusiastic about them). She was able to get net galleys—online galleys—of new books easily this way. She was also able to carry around a large number of books loaded on the device.”

Laura Ruby

As you can see, authors are very interested in what librarians have to say. So, I sent Ms. Yingling this email:

“Thank you for your comment on E is for Book, we love to hear from librarians. Just wondering if you had any further clarification such as is it more difficult to browse and become familiar with ebooks, or show them to students, are there too many different devices, or…? We’re interested in your insight. : ) ”

As it turns out, Karen Yingling does have a blog: Ms. Yingling Reads, with a focus on “books for middle school students, especially boys,” with middle grade and some YA fiction reviews.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

School Visits with eBooks?

Last Fall I spoke to an elementary school in Auburn, Alabama. As usual, I asked the media specialist if she wanted me to concentrate on one of my titles to tie in with school activities.

"Yes," she said. "Lula's Brew. I've been sharing it with the kids and they love it." They even used one of my coloring pages to get fired up about Lula and my visit to their school. Aren't these cute?

One hiccup, Lula's Brew is an app. How in the world was she sharing it with the classrooms of 20 kids or more, especially considering one of the biggest arguments against eReaders was that you couldn't share them with a group?

Turns out, she used a projector to broadcast Lula's Brew from her iPhone to the library's Smart Board. And then she'd read along. So for my visit, she projected the iPhone version onto the Smart Board behind me, while I shared the iPad version which I held and read. Sadly, I didn't get a photo of the reading in progress, but you can see the set-up in this shot.

Thing is, the kids responded as if this were all perfectly normal. They didn't sprout green scales or spin their heads around, they just enjoyed the story. They seemed to have no idea they were making history. - Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Friday, February 11, 2011

Some thoughts on collaboration

I’m delighted to be one of the newest members of the E is for Book community. This is my first blog post not only for this blog, but ever!

E is for Book is a perfect example of what I think is the key ingredient to success in this brand new world of digital books––collaboration. The ability to share ideas, inspire and teach each other, will certainly lead to more success for all.

We are all used to collaborating with editors and art directors––mostly that has helped us create better books. With ebooks and apps, some of us may decide to collaborate with independent developers or ebook and app publishers. But it’s possible that we may not need that traditional set up and some of us will go at it solo. Yet we will still need someone to edit our work, give us feedback on our illustrations and art, and more than anything guide us through some of the technical and even legal challenges of publishing digitally. Just as our writers groups and illustrators groups have proven to be wonderful ways to improve our traditional books, I think E is for book could be even more crucial for our new ebooks and apps. We may even need technical support groups where we can preview, critique, and help each other iron out the kinks from each others ebook and app projects, just as we would in a writer’s group or illustrators group.

So in the wild woolly world of ereaders and all the other devices not yet invented, I think we are doing a good thing by sticking together. Of course we are all individual creative people. I have a strong artistic vision that I can and want to follow but I’m also delighted to brainstorm with others and learn from them. Frankly, I’m a little tired of always working alone. My journey of turning my very first picture book PETERKIN MEETS A STAR into an app for the iPhone and iPad, started off as a solitary endeavor and ended up with plenty of collaboration along the way.

Like so many of our books, especially the earlier ones, PETERKIN MEETS A STAR had been out of print for a long time. About two years ago I wanted to turn it into a CD with a sound track and approached my APPLE One-to-One trainer, Mike, about helping me with that. I’m open minded about new technology and tend to get very excited about all the possibilities, but on the other hand I feel overwhelmed when I realize that I have to figure it out all on my own. So this seemed like a great opportunity. Little did I know that we would actually be creating the basis for my future children’s book app.


There were so many details to figure out. We had to re-size the files to the right screen size (there are about a million choices) and I was clueless… but of course Mike knew. We bounced back and forth between programs but mostly used Photoshop, and Logic (Photoshop Elements and GarageBand.would work too). I was familiar with Photoshop, but not Logic; luckily Mike knew it well! I recorded myself reading PETERKIN MEETS A STAR and Mike and I had a great time working together creating the sound track.

Meanwhile, my friend Kim, kept repeating, like a broken record… “This would make a great iPhone app… this would make a great iPhone app”. I secretly agreed… but how to go about making an app? I was completely out of my league! While I figured out what to do, I started the process of getting the rights back to the book. This turned out to be more complicated than I thought. The book was originally published in England in the 1980’s and with all the mergers over the years, it was hard to track down which publisher actually held the rights! Scores of emails later it was a done deal. Then I heard from Maryann Cocca-Leffler about PicPocket Books and I approached Lynette Mattke. Lynette was interested and even decided to try a small amount of interactivity and simple animation for the app, which was a first for PicPocket Books. It turned out that Mike and I had all the pieces (except animation) for the app. Now it was up to the Pickpocket Books designer to put it all together!

And so the app for PETERKIN MEETS A STAR was born (click here to find it on iTunesIt’s free this weekend through Valentine's day). It's a simple story and the app is mostly a straightforward book that includes highlighted words, gentle sound effects and through simple animation, a star that twinkles. Of course there were some small hiccups along the way… mostly with the animation (that’s something for another post, because APPLE devices do not support Flash).

Now I am considering what do with my other OP title BELINDA’S BALLOON for which I also have the rights back. This is just one more reason that I’m interested in exploring all the options on E is for Book. I might just wait to let the dust settle, or maybe I’ll just jump right in again. But one thing is for sure I’m definitely looking for ways to collaborate with others––it’s just so much more fun!


I have an iPod Touch, and would love an iPad (and would not say no to a Kindle or Nook). It seems an awfully long time to have to wait until next Christmas……..

Thursday, February 10, 2011

DIgital Books to Chew On (Also on BarneySaltzberg Noodlings Blog)


Digital Books to Chew On

Cramming a book in to an iPad. That's how my new friend, Ian Chia in Melbourne described the craze that's happening. There are so many of us who write and illustrate picture books and are witnessing the digital revolution. Those of us old enough to have gone through the CD rom wave, see similarities, but it is pretty clear that eBooks and enhanced eBooks are just taking off. I will be very surprised if this doesn't continue to grow and thrive. Nobody wants to be left behind.

For new titles or our out of print titles the question becomes, do we become propeller head geeks and learn to program? (No offense for those of you who already know how to do that) Do we ask the kid next door who's always been good with programming? Do we look for ebook publishers? The idea of being in 'control' of what we create is completely understandable. Everybody is looking for creative license and a bigger piece of the pie.

Assuming we create a book app and get it onto iTunes, the question becomes, who will even know it's there? There are only so many Dr. Seuss's, Silversteins, or Sendaks. (Apparently having a last name which begins with an S is helpful!) Those guys are fairly easy to market.

Putting the app on itunes, to promote it, you can blog, you can tweet, you can hoochie coochie coo, but to earn back your investment and then actually earn revenue, now that's the trick!

Then, there is the conversation about content. What can we do, what 'should' we do to serve our stories? Having a reader click on a character and have it squeak, or moo or woof, is fun, but does it have any appeal beyond the initial wow factor? Do we create simple eBooks which just allow the reader to turn pages and have the option for narration? Or, is there something above and beyond where we are all working? Thinking about how we can take advantage of the new platform to truly deliver a different experience.

Just something to chew on. Would love feedback.

Adios.
Barney

Eeeek! Ebooks!

This is a reprint from Katie Davis's blog, Brain Burps About Books. 

Are you confused about ebooks, apps and games? Tune in learn more from Loreen Leedy!

 How to listen:

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  Show Notes

Episode #29
Guest:Loreen Leedy
Jennifer Hubert Swan's (aka Reading Rants) first review for the show!
Feedback from Eti Berland (hope I didn't mangle your name pronunciation!)


Want to keep the convo going? Call my voice mail hotline: 888-522-1929

In this episode we talk about:

There is more, but come on, don't you want to listen by now?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ebooks, Digital Art & Fun

Digital art is challenging... it makes an artist think in new ways.

Digital art can be novel, at least it is for me. There are things that which become possible which I've never been able to do with real paints.

Photobucket
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click image if it fails to load)

Digital art is problem solving... it requires new learning curves and improvising new solutions.

Digital art is amazing, at least it is for me. If I'm really lucky it sometimes almost seems like it's painting itself.

Digital art is only as good as the artist who dreams it up though. The same basic rules of composition, proportion and artistic discretion apply.

Digital art is fun! Artists do like to have fun.

Digital art can be addictive... especially when coloring in the afternoon and listening to Ravel simultaneously.

While digital art has no aesthetic advantage over traditional art, I think when it comes to creating ebooks, the digital artist is clearly ahead in the game. Since many of the same tools used in creating digital images are the same tools for making ebooks, the learning curve is already in place.

This art sample is from my second entirely digital book... and it's lots of fun!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Drawing on the iPad








I'm working on an app for kids that requires me to draw content directly on my iPad. I found that I could only draw comfortably with a stylus. Drawing with a finger was very difficult as I always felt my hand was in the way of seeing my drawing. I tried different ones including a homemade one and liked the Pogo Sketch the best. It's around $12 and you can buy it at the Apple store or online through Amazon. At first, the clubby tip seemed awkward but I soon got used to it. The other thing that was bothering me were random marks made by the heel of my hand. I improvised a little mitt by cutting up a cotton anklet sock. I wanted something that could be made easily at home. I'm having a lot of fun with this new way of drawing. I hope to have the announcement for the launch soon.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday Musings

It's been amazing reading all the buzzing back and forth from authors and illustrators.  I can't help but think about the famous line, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore..."  The sentiment seems to be, I want to do this myself.   I hear you.  I'm not completely sold.  For me, it makes sense to mine my OP books and proceed with eBooks/enhanced eBooks, apps, etc;   But even with 30 something titles under my belt, I still need an editor. Not that I always agree with what they say, but with the right editor, a healthy dialogue about how to make a book work, still feels like a necessity.

With all the back and forth about apps and eBooks, I am still unclear about how to proceed on my own.  I am in talks with a couple of newly established startups who are interested in producing some of my OP books.  There is more clout and muscle and dollars there to help produce and promote.  Then again, if I do it myself, (assuming I can find a way to produce a title digitally) I would own it!

Having produced four CD's for children and gotten my music on the itunes store, I can tell you that sales have been lackluster.  I know much more now about social media, given that blogging and twittering really weren't around when I started, but I don't think we should underestimate the role of promoting.  I always go back to a piece on NPR about websites.  They said something along the lines of, a website is like a bilboard in your basement.  It can be marvelous, but unless people know it's there, what's the point?

I so appreciate the time people are putting in to e is for book.  It's a community.  We all seem to be going through this at the same time.  I am looking forward to more success stories and ways to move forward.  I think we all agree on what we need to be doing, I just want to be more clear on the path!


A few questions for our bloggers (Part 2)

Continued from yesterday’s post, more E is for Book bloggers answer these questions:
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?

Phillis Gershator

I don't know much about ebooks and zilch about fast moving e-technology, but I want to contribute as much as I can to any future collective efforts that help authors/artists in our creative, economic lives.

I have several out of print (OP) books that would work I think, using minimal effects and music, too (some of which is already available on a CD for kids we did). ZZZNG! ZZZNG! ZZZNG! won an Anne Izard Storyteller’s Choice award. It features buzzy mosquito songs which would be fun with sound effects. PALAMPAM DAY has snappy dialog, and since it’s set in the Caribbean, the reader could be someone with a West Indian accent, with some background steel pan or scratch band style music. My books can be seen at www.phillisgershator.com.

My first priority with OP is actually to try to get the books which were still selling when they went OP, and which I still love, back in print for certain niches of the market—an effort in progress.
I’m having difficulties getting the rights to some OP books though. (I never should have let rights slide!) I’m also working on projects that have potential, trying to improve them and in some cases illustrate them myself, for an e-book future. I’m all for simple e-books copies of a picture book, as in the examples on the now defunct LookyBook website. I fear that people will now want more action and “interactivity”  but hope there will be room for both.

I haven't tried an ereader yet.
I’m a "senior" and my brain is definitely wired for [real] books. I've worked in the wholesale end of book selling, in publishing, and as a public and school librarian, so real books are absolutely my thing—though I am a computer fan, too. I do find reading on the computer causes eyestrain and I don't absorb the info as well. Maybe e-readers are better for the eyes though—and the apps ARE amazing.

If
I’m going to create my own e-books for kids, even tho I’m putting off an e-reader purchase, it’s inevitable. I’d choose the one with the best capabilities for picture books and one that offers the most access/selection. I’d probably end up with something with an “i” in front of it since I've been a Mac user since the very first Apple computers came out.

Elizabeth O. Dulemba
Before I am an illustrator or writer, I am a storyteller. My main purpose is to share my stories with the public, no matter the form of delivery, whether through storytelling, books, or technology. It's an exciting time to be a creator with so many new ways to share stories!

My first app was LULA'S BREW (click here for more info) and it's addictive having a fun book in this new format. Since then, I’ve been working to reassume rights on one of my first books which I think would adapt well to e-media, although so far it's been slow going. I’d also like to make my Coloring Page Tuesdays into an interactive app.

I have an iPhone, iPad and a Kindle and I use them all for different things. Obviously the iPhone is great out and about. The iPad is wonderful for checking emails, browsing online and playing, but I found it a bit heavy for reading. The Kindle is awesome for reading. And it’s so light and small I take it with me all the time. I’d love to see the NOOKcolor!

Laura Ruby

I've been tracking the changes in publishing for a couple of years, and doing a lot of research on my own. I started to wonder if self-publishing one of my own OP books as an ebook would be a good choice, but I was daunted by the idea of becoming my own publisher. (I've said it in an earlier post: I *like* traditional publishing and would hate to see it go away). When a friend—Katie Davis—told me about eisforbook, I wanted to join. I figured why not hash out all the issues with professionals in the same boat, and share our experiences online?

The first book that I will experiment with is my first published book: Lily's Ghosts. Since Lily came out nine years ago, I figure she's due for a new look anyway. Though I'm currently working on some projects that I intend to publish traditionally, I am pretty excited about this new venture, and I'm happy to be doing it with the support of friends. My books can be seen here:
www.lauraruby.com

Funny thing is, I don’t yet own a dedicated ereader. As a matter of fact, I'm distinctly unprepared for the “erevolution” in that I'm still learning how to use Blogger and Twitter, haven’t figured out how to hook up my email and Facebook with my smart phone, and can barely keep track of all my passwords. But I’d say that since I’m an Apple girl, I’d probably spring for an iPad. Pretty!

John Nez
Just like with digital art, I didn’t want to miss the boat. Now I do so many things with digital art, I actually had a panic attack when I realized there is a possibility I may not use real paints at all anymore. I don’t have any ebooks in print just now, but I do have a few OP titles that might adapt to an ebook or app.

I never talk about my book ideas in detail, but I can say I have some ideas for ebook apps that might be exciting. Luckily I’ve been too busy with paying work to even finish learning all that's in my new Adobe Suite CS5 that I recently upgraded to.

I have to say that the ebook makes real books seem very exotic and wonderful by comparison. Just having a physical book with a size, shape, texture & color is wonderful. I find my iPod e-reader to be woefully one-dimensional in comparison. 

I only have an iPod Touch at present. I was surprised how quickly I became bored with all the apps and gizmos, so I mostly just use it for the music when I go out bicycle riding (daily exercise) and reading when I arrive at the cafe (exercise destination). It's nice to look at photos with. But I find that most of the apps I've tried have been more trouble than they're worth to figure out and configure. I still prefer desktop computing with a mouse and Wacom tablet.

I understand there will soon be dozens of new Android tablets everywhere. They’re fun gizmos, but I have no plans on buying one. I am thinking about getting a new bicycle though!

I love working with InDesign and Photoshop on my Mac Pro to create picture books.  I have dozens of dummies in that format.  As I understand it, all it takes is a bit of tweaking in the PDF export and it suddenly will become an ebook.  So once I find the free time, no doubt I'll try it out.

Ellen Beier
As a book illustrator for 25 years I have several projects that I can envision as ebooks and/or apps and plan to contribute to the discussion as these books are developed. And, as a current graduate student in book studies, I am particularly intrigued by the publishing dynamics in this digital “incunabula” as it relates to the first period of printing in the 15th century—changes in design decisions, copyright, pirating, distribution, use of technology—many of the concerns are parallel, surprisingly enough.

I have a couple of OP titles which I have requested rights for, which I can talk about when the rights are secured. But I have 2 other projects which are excellent candidates:
1. a middle grade/YA historical fictional biography for which I did the cover and some of the design, which was written by an award-winning author (who is also a friend)—this book was published in a limited run by a state-level historical organization, and would shine as an e-book. I am currently checking into rights.
2. a 24-page full-color book for very young readers, which I was hired to illustrate privately by the author about 5 years ago and she self-published on Booksurge (now Createspace). The book in that format had several broad problems: unusual format (24 pages), too expensive per copy, little distribution access. At 24-pages and minimal price this book could become an entertaining and educational app, as it involves a group of animals (sounds and movement). My books can be seen here: http://www.ellenbeier.com.

I am in the process of downloading Kindle for Mac to use on my laptop (per Loreen's article). Reading on a phone or iPod does not appeal to me—the Kindle, Nook, and iPad serve different purposes. By the time I am ready to purchase, I can imagine things will shift—some become more affordable (the iPad hopefully) or more multi-functional.

Amy Timberlake
Writing is the only thing I seem to do well. :)

I think it’s important for book creators to think about ebooks (and the new world that the internet and social media is bringing). Ebooks are a great opportunity. It gives us more control of our books, and you can reach people on all sorts of devices. Books are being read on smartphones, ipads, ereaders, as well as books made of paper. (I think of paper books as one “delivery system” among many.) No longer do you have to settle for your book being out of print! Yay! See my books here: www.amytimberlake.com

I'm also hoping to see artists starting to make a living wage from their work. I think there’s an opportunity for that as well with ebooks. I want to see artists make money! More arts in the world makes it a better place.

Also, if I can do anything to make this topic (and in fact all of social media) a little less fearful to folks that would be great. I sense a lot of fear among book creators, that we're afraid to step out and try stuff. I don
t think it has to be like this. If more people were taking little steps, experimenting and sharing their results (even if it doesnt work) it would be better for us all. Who cares if you fail? You tried! That's what this blog is for, right? A group of us trying stuff and sharing our discoveries?

I don
t have any books available on ereaders and I do not like it. I am missing a significant chunk of people by not having any ebooks.

I use a Kindle. Got it as a gift two years ago. But now that I'm used to it, I love it. I
m a big reader and I use it every day. Seriously. I love it for travel (I often travel with 2 or 3 books). I love its long battery life (a whole weekend on one charge). I love that I can read free sample chapters anywhere and they download to the device. Anything in the public domain is very cheap or free. (Though I dont mind the price of new books either—Im used to it.) I love the e-ink: I work on a computer all day and my eyes get tired, so I dont necessarily want to spend a lot of time looking at backlit screens. The e-ink has no eye strain—it's amazing. I like how light the Kindle is (sometimes hardcover books make my hands go to sleep if I try to read them in bed, but not the Kindle).

And here
s something I never expected: I actually am disappointed when books arent available on my Kindle. I prefer reading on this thing now. (This was a transition that took a couple of months, but it is now my go-to device for reading.)

So I
m a fan of the Kindle. But I'm not a huge fan of the way Amazon has been so restrictive with its device and the books on it—but thats been loosening a lot recently. And Im hopeful that this will all work out. It seems like it is….

I
m thinking of getting an iPad. (New generation coming out in April. Or so I hear.) I want to use it as a phone, a calender, a way to post to my blog when Im traveling, etc. So there are a lot of reasons Im thinking of buying this thing. But as a writer, Im thinking of it as a travel computer for times when the writing isnt too heavy, and a research device. Itll help me understand apps better, check out magazines (which I think will be better on the iPad than say, a Kindle) and to check out iBooks. As a writer, I dont think I can ignore this stuff much longer—so many people are using it now. I need to check it out myself.

Most of our current bloggers have appeared in these two posts...we hope to hear from the remaining authors soon!

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 fastpencil.com 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. (www.drawbooks.com) 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.

www.barneysaltzberg.com

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!