I have blogged extensively as to how the iPad changed my perceptions about reading, technology, media consumption, educational opportunities and, well… all kinds of things. I’ve talked about how I was a
skeptic until I held the thing in my hands. And then I bought myself an iPad
within the first 2 weeks it was out and I haven’t looked back since.
As it turns out, the iPad changed my perceptions of being a professional writer as well. (An unexpected insight.) Doing something “different” with my newest book Cinder-Smella thus became
an appealing idea to me once I had written the text.
First, a little history about me as an author. I’ve now published in a variety of ways. I’ve self-published, I’ve published with the big dogs in the industry (Disney, Scholastic, RB Education, Penguin) and I’ve
blogged for two years now (a form of modern-day publishing for sure) at a
fairly voluminous rate.
In essence, after having written Cinder-Smella the opportunity arose for me to invert the traditional publishing paradigm… so I decided to go for it with this book.
For hundreds of years books have become manifest through being printed and bound. Nowadays, eBooks offer people the opportunity to not print or bind a physical book but rather publish it in a digital text format.
But in the world of picture books, I saw a clear imbalance between the quality of the final product and user experience. While reading a book like Freakonomics or Pride and Prejudice on a Kindle, Nook,
iPad (or what-not) is somewhat of an apples-to-apples user experience (yes,
they are different but the two reading experiences are somewhat in the same
ballpark) reading a picture book such as Green
Eggs and Ham or Knuffle Bunny in
physical form versus Kindle, Nook, iPad, or so-on, is not an apples-to-apples
experience. Clearly, the printed picture book trumps the eBook experience (in
Of course, nowadays we are seeing an explosion of children’s book apps that allow kids to paint within the book, have the story be read to them via the character’s voice, and interact with the text in all sorts of
enhanced, digital ways. But (again, in my opinion) comparing apps to printed
books is not an apples-to-apples experience either.
(NOTE: I am not weighing in on “which is better”; I am just saying they are not comparable as the user interface differential is too great.)
But what if I crafted Cinder-Smella to be an apples-to-apples picture book experience much like Freakonomics is an apples-to-apples reading experience? This idea intrigued me a lot.
That’s when I realized that what I was really talking about was writing the first children’s picture book specifically designed for the Kindle.
As it currently stands, e-ink screens are awesome… but they are not all in color and reading a picture book is often a lesser experience on eReading devices. But that’s only because I had not yet seen anyone construct a
picture book with the Kindle (and other eReaders) specifically in mind.
And so, with my publishers at eReadia (a new company formed in the past year that believes – and really gets – the digital reading revolution) we decided to try and break new ground.
Indeed, innovation excites me.
The question became, could we format Cinder-Smella so that grandparents and parents with Kindles and iPads and Nooks and so on could read a picture book with their little ones that didn’t feel like a second rate experience?
Clearly, all writers today are thinking about how eReading is going to impact the way our audiences have access to the works we create. So for me, publishing Cinder-Smella in a
digital format first – and then publishing it in a printed book format second –
struck me as an interesting way to dip my toes in the waters of a quickly
shifting landscape while still working hard to publish and author high quality material.
So yes, Cinder-Smella represents my (perhaps, the) first children’s picture book specifically designed to be a kick-butt reading experience on the Kindle. (Clearly, the iPad offers a reading experience that is downright wicked
– the color Nook, as well – but they are designed to be different machines than
So far, the reviews for Cinder-Smella have been great but clearly this project represents a new way of doing things in this new era of publishing. Printed books are coming, but the digital has
arrived first with this title.
And don’t think that I don’t realize that without a printed book, there is a “stigma” attached to the publication. More on the perceptions of printed books versus digital books tomorrow.