We had the pleasure of attending our first Children’s book fair in Bologna, Italy. It was absolutely amazing, we spoke to lots of people, ate great food (pizza and ice cream of course) and had an opportunity to see what is generally happening in the Children’s Book Publishing industry.
Once we arrived at the venue we entered straight into the Illustrators Exhibitions. Both current and future illustrators displayed their work for all visitors to see.
TOC hosted several discussions in the Digital Café. I attended the talks on “eBooks for Children: Formats and Distribution” and “Are children reading digital or just playing games?” The verdicts for these talks were that the variety of ebook formats is making it difficult for publishers to transition from print to digital.
A lot of attention is being put on the creation of interactive ebook apps. The common issue for this is that parents think that apps are distracting and will not be half as useful as print books. On the other hand, a lot of children (especially in the UK compared to the USA) either have never used an ebook app or have no preference over print and digital.
We think ebook apps have their place, but it’s not for everyone or every situation. It’s great where one wishes to curate information on particular topics, as seen in Apple’s iBookstore textbooks where users can benefit from different types of media; music, video, text and integrated Q&A sections.
The key for publishers is to understand the potential and limits of each ebook format and then decide how to make each type work best for their books. At the moment this appears to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks for the publishers spoken to, they are hesitant to try any of the latest approaches to digitising their books and would rather wait until a common standard surfaces.
Most publishers were excited to see how MyLi could help their books, whereas the rest just didn’t understand the concept of streaming. Not to worry, it’s still early days. For those who saw the light, they appreciate how publishers are rewarded during the streaming process whilst marketing their books free of charge. We look forward to working with all those that we spoke with and sharing their amazing books with you.