Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The life of a children's book…is it over when it's over?

The biography of a typical children’s book goes something like this:

The beginning
  • Author gets a fabulous idea and writes a manuscript or proposal
  • An editor likes it and contract terms are agreed upon
  • The ms is revised and edited (repeat as necessary)
  • Interior artwork (if applicable) is obtained, plus jacket art
  • Book is typeset, printed, bound, sent out into the world
  • Marketing happens
  • Reviews are written, hopefully rave
  • Orders are taken and fulfilled
  • Royalties are paid to authors and illustrators
  • As stock runs low, the book is reprinted
  • When orders decline, the book goes out of print
The end


Or not so much. Authors have always had the option of reprinting their book themselves. Boxes of books piled in the garage may be the result. Or so I hear, not having tried it myself. 

As everyone knows, things are different now because of the devices, digital book formats, and ebookstores now available. For quite awhile I’ve been wanting to put one of my out-of-print titles into ebook form and it's a thrill to announce that Tracks in the Sand is now available again on the iBookstore. Here is the trailer: Tracks originally had two printings and according to an inside source at the time was still selling several thousand copies a year when the publisher decided not to reprint. Perhaps they were more interested in selling their novelization of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie? (Just a theory.) My recent thinking is that Tracks is a good candidate for a digital version because, among other factors, sea turtles have been around for over 100 million years. Therefore, the basic facts of their life cycle story are not likely to change in the foreseeable future, barring oil spills and many other threats to their survival. My hope is that this book can now continue to serve as a tool to help young readers learn about these wonderful reptiles.

There are many pros and cons to the various digital options…iPad or Android app? Kindle book? NOOK book? I chose the iBooks format to start with for two main reasons:

  • The image quality is excellent.
  • There is now an inexpensive iPad app, Book Creator, that made the process relatively easy. Note: Book Creator is also great for students to make their own EPUB books.
One of the nice features of iBooks is that readers can download a sample to see how a book looks. Rather than allow a short automatic sample to be generated, I uploaded one with additional pages. More information about Tracks plus a coloring page can be found on this page of my web site.

For a fun classroom extension, check out the Tour de Turtles, a project by the Sea Turtle Conservancy that uses satellites to follow individual sea turtles as they roam around in the ocean. Here is a post with many additional resources.

Not every OP book is a candidate for a digital version…some complex layouts don’t shrink down well to the screen size of a tablet, for example. However, I anticipate that many books that have otherwise been relegated to file cabinets will soon find a new life. So, maybe when it's over, it's a new beginning instead.

If anyone has questions about the overall iBooks publishing process, here is my post on E is for Book with many details and links. Or, feel free to leave a comment with a specific question and I’ll try to answer it.



CC said...

Marvelous!! Can not thank you enough for bringing this to my and other colleagues attention.

Hope you sell a bazillion!!

Susan E. Goodman said...

Me too, Loreen. I've been following your experimentation with epublishing with much interest. What a beautiful result.

Unknown said...

Thanks, guys! It's so nice to get my turtle book out of the flat file and back out into the world again.

Cheryl Harness said...

Loreen, you are so enterprising! I'm going to go put a hat on so I can take it off to you. Comparatively & Anxiously Analog in a Digital Universe

Unknown said...


LOVE your trailer and the book looks wonderful. I've been so busy today starting our new publishing company that I've only now, in the evening, caught up with your post. I hope that you'll consider publishing further with iNK BOOKS AND MEDIA: the publishing division of Ink Think Tank.