Saturday, February 2, 2013

Another option for making digital picture books...?

It's been ages since I've posted on E is for Book...aside from the usual print book projects that clamor for attention, I have felt stymied by the process of making digital books. Every platform has its own format to learn which also limits the potential audience to the users of that platform and/or device. 

I did make an iBook in 2011 which took weeks of work to convert the art work from an O.P. book (process article is here.) It was a hassle to become an iBookstore seller but doable. Then, much like tossing a book into a giant pile in a warehouse, it instantly disappeared into the confusing, inaccessible "store" that doesn't even have a rudimentary search engine or Internet portal. (It only searches on titles, not book descriptions, and you can only browse the iBookstore via the iBooks app.) The few people who have bought Tracks in the Sand  found it somehow but it wasn't by searching on the term "sea turtles" because that won't bring it up. The other drawback is that it is basically a digital version of a print book, which is fine but I'm interested in adding interactive elements.

To make a long story short, none of the current options available for making interactive books have grabbed me for various reasons including:
  1. The difficulty of making the book
  2. Having to get the final product approved
  3. The limited platform (e.g. book apps that only work on tablets)
  4. Bad or nonexistent searchability in "stores"
  5. Having to be "inside" another app (e.g.Interactive Touch Books)
  6. The monumental problem of marketing, especially due to items 3-5
While marketing is an issue for anything indie-published (and traditionally published, for that matter), here is one solution I've come up with that solves the other issues:

As mentioned in the video, Valentine Mystery Critters was made in PowerPoint, of all things. It took a fair bit of time to get the animations working right, but compared to other options I've tried, it wasn't that hard. Obviously, the interactive options are limited in PowerPoint, but the selling options are quite open...zillions of computers have PowerPoint installed. To read more about the pros and cons of this method of making digital books, please check out this article on my books blog.