Saturday, January 14, 2012

Underpants Thunderpants: Fifth Week In The Top Ten

Before we launch into today's interview with Peter Bently, let me update you on a couple changes to the blog. The Mobi Pocket store has closed, so I have removed them from the Kids' E-Book Bestseller List. I replaced Mobi with the Google E-book store, since I have now found an accurate way to pull their data on bestsellers for children and young adults.

I've also added a new page to the blog, called Author Index. This lists all of the authors I've featured on the blog since its beginning. I hope this is helpful when you want to look for a favorite author or want to reference back to a certain interview. 

And speaking of interviews....

Today we are hearing from Peter Bently, whose book Underpants Thunderpants has been in the top ten in the Kids' section of Barnes and Noble for the past 5 weeks. Today it's in the number 7 spot. 

Peter, the title alone, Underpants Thunderpants, makes me want to know more. What's your book about?

Dog is hanging out his huge collection of underpants when a storm blows them all away. They land all over the world – and even in space – with comical results.

How did you first get published?

My first children's book, A Lark in the Ark, was accepted by Egmont in 2005 and published in 2008.

Is your book also available in print format? Which came first? 
The print format came first – that is still usual with children's publishers, although increasingly I have e-book clauses negotiated in my contracts from the very start. This book was a commission – I was paid a fee for the text but receive no royalties or have any say in its subsequent life, so I wasn't involved in the decision to do it as an e-book. I am delighted it is doing well, of course – it is all good for my profile as an author.

What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing? Was it your idea or your publisher’s?

It was the publisher's idea. I felt – and still feel – that any way of getting books out there is to be welcomed. If folks want to read my books on their Kindle or iPhone, then fine!

Do you think e-publishing will eventually take over print publishing?

I don't think e-publishing will ever completely supersede print publishing. Physical books are too deeply ingrained in our culture – think of all the millions of books that already exist! But e-media of all kinds are here to stay and the two formats will surely coexist – I hope amicably! The only issue is how best to embrace both formats.

What is your target audience, and how do you believe the e-format works for that audience and serves their needs?

My audience is children, or rather parents and children. I can see the e-format being very useful for situations where parent and child are on the go and don't want to have to shlep physical books about.

Peter Bently, recent winner
ofthe Roald Dahl Funny
Prize for his book
Cats Ahoy!
What top factors do you believe put your e-book where it is now?

I hope it is is popular because people find it funny!

Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts you as an author? How?

It helps, I am sure. There are folks and families out there who may not be 'book' people but may be 'screen' people, and this may be the way for books to reach them – not just mine. That has to be a good thing.

Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts your readers, specifically children and/or young adults? How?

Personally, I think very young children should avoid sitting in front of screens as much as possible. That's not anti-technology, but anti-inactivity: children learn through direct interaction with the people and world about them, not by sitting alone gawping and motionless at a talking screen. So I think as parents we always have to remember that a picture book in e-format should be used just like a physical book: as an opportunity for sharing and interacting with a child. In fact, with its handy format and storage capacity – it is effectively a portable library – e-readers even have the potential to increase such opportunities, which would be great.

You can learn more about Peter and his other books by visiting his author page at this agent's website.

Check this week's Kids' E-Book Bestseller List for more interesting authors and their amazing books!