Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reports of the PB's Death....May be Exaggerated

Mark Twain so famously wrote, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."

So too perhaps the reports of the death of the PB may be magnified beyond current market realities. I wrote about this topic in October on this blog on a post titled "Digitized!" after a NEW YORK TIMES article suggested that the e-world was drawing the shroud over the PB.

Just several weeks ago the PW Children's Bookshelf had a lead article titled "Don't Write the Obit for Picture Books Yet." They wrote that some children's publishers seemed shocked that the TIMES would make this declaration since market data showed that PBs were about the same percentage of children's book sales in 2009 as in 2005 - approximately 11% (10.8 and 10.7%).

For my post in October I had interviewed several librarians - randomly scattered around the country - NJ, NC, FL and Oregon - who said that they had been buying just about as many PBs this year as in the past and that the public seemed as interested in them as usual. And, as that librarian said, the PB doesn't need to be plugged in or need extra batteries!

This is the happy news for those of us who write PBs and who, in the constructing the story, envision the child reader holding the book, touching and feeling the pages and seeing, hearing and reading the story, and anticipating with each turning page, the promise of the adventure continuing on the next page.

But the new media is here - and every type of communication and organization is involved in trying to keep up with it and harness it for their endeavors. The future of the iPad is often discussed too. Anecdotally, the iPad was the most popular gift in our family this Christmas with a number of people surprised at giving one as a gift and then receiving one themselves. It's here so we writers can continue writing for our hard back books and hope that children and parents will still like to feel the book in their hands but also adapt to the iPad and construct books that can at the same time adapt to that e-format as well. A concern, though, is that a PB remain a book and a form of literature versus a cartoon type presentation on a screen.

Writing for two versions at once - but better that the obit. How would you plan to construct a PB for both presentations and keep books for children literature?


  1. Just because a PB is digitized, doesn't necessarily mean it becomes a "cartoon type" of publication. Many are simply being transferred with the original illustrations and there are no additional bells and whistles.

  2. I don't think digitization is the death of the PB. Let's be optimistic. It's a new form of communication and we have to adapt.