Views & News: E-book Enhancements

Mary Keeley

Blogger: Mary Keeley

Location: Books & Such Illinois Office

It’s hard to keep up with happenings in the digital world that affect publishing. Have you heard that Facebook bought a digital publishing company? Don’t be alarmed; they aren’t getting into the publishing business. They bought Push Pop Press not for the purpose of publishing books but to use Push Pop’s groundbreaking software ideas and technology to enhance our Facebook experience. Their press release states:

“We’re thrilled to confirm that we’ve acquired Push Pop Press, a startup whose groundbreaking software changes the way people publish and consume digital content. We can’t wait for co-founders Mike Matas and Kimon Tsinteris to get started, and for some of the technology, ideas and inspiration behind Push Pop Press to become part of how millions of people connect and share with each other on Facebook.” – AFP Tues, Aug 2, 2011.

The FB visionaries apparently feel that the success of Push Pop Press’s one published book was due to the publisher’s great design rather than the content and author (Our Choice, by Al Gore).

How can we apply the foresight of this social media giant to the future of e-books? Design technology is poised to explode. This is especially encouraging for children’s books and their authors. Children’s books have struggled because most people want to handle and “try out” a children’s book before they decide to purchase it. With fewer independent bookstores and now one fewer chain bookstore, buyers have less opportunity to see, touch, and feel the books. And children’s books haven’t worked well for e-book publishing because of the art and design needs.

When asked for publishers’ current e-book percentage of their sales, here are the responses from editors on a panel at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference:

Abingdon – All their fiction books are published in softcover and e-book

Revell – Fiction is their leading e-book category; increased from 10% to 14%

Tyndale – 10% of their sales and growing, especially fiction; release in both print and e-book

Waterbrook Multnomah – 15%; all books are released in softcover and e-book

White Rose – e-books far outsell print

Winepress – 20%

We’re all hoping children’s e-books will eventually catch up to these percentages as new technologies are developed. Have you heard about the one that enables children to swipe the e-reader screen to change colors? Electronics and the Internet are akin to second languages for this generation, fostering an urgent need for healthy children’s e-book publishing. They’ll be reading books in an entirely new experience. I just hope they will also always have the desire and opportunity to hold and appreciate a print book.

Have you heard any buzz about specific design enhancements for e-books? What creative abilities would you like to see?

7 Responses

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  1. As someone who writes for children, I would love to see new technologies be developed so that market can take advantage of ebooks. My 10- and 7-year-old already know how to use iPods and can manage their way through an iPad. I wonder how much more reading they would do if they had a device; though the youngest reads a lot anyway.

    How about coloring pages you can upload and color on your device that go with books you’ve purchased? I’m not a technology guru, so maybe that’s already available, but I think that’s a neat idea. Interactive quizzes would be fun too.

  2. Peter DeHaan says:

    It seems like the buzz focuses on the upside, but seldom the limitations.

  3. I’m thrilled to be the author of books for kids also available in e-book formats. One app I like is Be There Bedtime Tales where people can video themselves reading the book aloud and send that, along with the e-book itself, to kids. It’s a great idea for grandparents, military, or other family members far away from children they love.

  4. Mary Keeley says:

    Creative thoughts, Cheryl! You may have given a guru or two an idea.

    I know what you mean, Peter. It will be interesting to hear the buzz after the initial enthusiasm.

    Janet, I vaguely recall hearing about that app. I’m glad you reminded me. I need to get that app to use for my grandchildren in another state.

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