Friday, November 26, 2010

What's the Future for Picture Books?

As more and more books are being published as e-books, I’ve wondered how this will work out for picture books. I’m sure there are plenty of picture book authors and illustrators wondering the same thing. How will these illustrated books make the transition? We enjoy snuggling with our kids while reading books to them. Will it be the same reading from an e-reader?

Here's my husband reading to our two
 oldest children -- about 20 years ago! 
Would the picture look as cozy with
an e-reader?

With that in mind, I was delighted to demo the new color Nook at Barnes & Noble last weekend.  I’m not promoting the Nook over other e-readers, but since it’s now in color I was anxious to have a look at how it would work for children.

I was impressed, but I see pros and cons for picture books.  Color was the first hurdle for e-readers, and that’s obviously no longer an issue. The picture books on the Nook are bright and clear. The Nook, turned sideways, shows the full two-page spread and the touch technology allows you to sweep you fingers across the screen to turn the page, similar to the movement of turning a printed page.

An added feature is the interactive option. The reader can touch the screen and make something happen, such as make cereal pour into a bowl, or make a door open. Children can also choose the “Read to Me” option, listening to the audio version while the pages turn automatically.

The drawback was the screen size. Some picture books need to be bigger to show off a grand story or lush illustrations. Others are best presented in a shaped die-cut book, or a book laid out horizontally (“landscape” vs. “portrait”). Such options won’t be possible on e-readers, as all books will be presented in the same size format based on the screen size.

If you have a chance, stop in at Barnes & Noble and have a look for yourself. Let me know what you think. In the meantime, here's a link that shows all the Nook features for kids books. Be sure to click on the demos.

The e-book bestseller list has been updated, as it will be every Saturday. The link is at the top right corner -- check it out and see how your favorite authors are doing!