There have been more than a few articles between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year on the kids and e-books debate. It seems clear that kids, especially those in the middle grades, like and want e-readers and e-books. Many parents, though, – even, according to a November NY Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/21/business/for-their-children-many-e-book-readers-insist-on-paper.html) those who themselves are e-reading fans – seem to prefer print media for their children.
Until very recently, I was one of them. Luckily, I am the mother of an avid reader, a kid who loves reading for the adventure, but also for the smell and feel of the books themselves. But my kid is just a little different from me: my child equally loves electronics. Print books are just another device, another medium for this generation. Last year’s “Kids and Family Reading Report” (http://anatomiteca.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/2010_KFRR.pdf; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/29/kids-like-ebooks-parents-_n_743010.html) bears this out.
We have to supply good literature in as many media as possible to expose this millennial generation to as many shades of language and thought as possible. It is through reading that the vocabulary explosion happens, and that kids find themselves.
So now I fall distinctly into the camp of those who believe that anything that gets children ages 8 and up, especially boys, to read for fun, is good. E-readers and e-books are an easy way to expose children to a variety of texts, without breaking either the bank or the kids’ backs. E-ink is my choice (yes, even for digital media, I am still “old school!”) because it makes kids focus on the text itself, relying on the words to spark the visual in each child’s mind.
What do you think? Should kids be reading on electronic devices? At what age should they get their first e-reader/e-book?
Image by Jinx! via Flickr
Why did we choose children’s fiction – and a classical myths title, at that – as our first offering?
Well, the lofty reasons are because we feel that mythology is the foundation of world literatures. As witnessed
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by the success of Rick Riordan‘s series and J. K. Rowling‘s “Harry Potter” series, kids are still entranced by heroic, epic tales. We also feel that children are not intrinsically motivated to read, especially when they have easier ways to access stories, through video games and television.
The more mundane, business-driven reasons are that e-readers are becoming more accessible to the mass market. We decided to begin with a straight-to-e-book distribution plan because we felt that parents might want an easier way to read to their children. With a backlit e-reader, parents don’t have to leave the lights on or juggle both a book and a flashlight in order to read to their children at bedtime.
A New York Times article in early February 2011 bore our reasoning out. According to this article, both HarperCollins and St. Martin’s Press reported that while young adult e-book titles made up only about 6 percent of their sales in 2010, by January 2011 those sales had gone up to 20 or 25 percent! And parents reported that, thanks to receiving e-readers for the holidays, their 6 to 11 year old children were reading more than ever!
We feel that the trend is just beginning. Indeed, according to Publisher’s Weekly, total e-book sales were up 137.9% in the first nine months of 2011!
So, while we honestly don’t believe print books will ever go out of style, we are still on the e-book path for now!
Image via Wikipedia
Image via Wikipedia
- Image via Wikipedia
Actually, the journey to the center of an e-book began in 2007. But courage and time failed. So, of course, we jump in now, just as everyone else is jumping in! That means, to our mind, that we had the right idea all along – clearly!
Since courage was still in short supply, education came first. Now, our valiant CEO/Managing Director/Valued Author/General Factotum, Anahi, had worked in publishing before. She understood the lingo. But when it came time to build an entire book, from manuscript to layout and cover design, to marketing (still a tough spot, the marketing), she realized that she had no real idea where to begin. She has translated many textbooks and even a history, non-fiction volume. She has edited many more. She has worked on manuscripts. She has worked on galley proofs. She has seen – back in the old days – the camera ready layout boards. She even worked on a few. But she knew the industry in bits and pieces. So, we did what anyone would do, and sought out people who were already engaged in doing it all; that’s how we found SPAN: the Small Publishers Association. What a godsend!
First piece of great advice: Bowker and buying ISBNs. In June 2011 Language Development Company, LLC bought its first block of ISBNs (only 10, but you’ve got to start somewhere!)…even before we knew what we were going to publish first. Even before we had a manuscript. And definitely before we had the notion that our first effort should be a straight-to-ebook one. But, that made us feel like real, true, official publishers!