The Future of Digital Picture Books. Is there one?

I had an interesting conversation with my friend, Dianne de las Casas, tonight. In addition to being an outstanding author and storyteller, Dianne is the creator of Picture Book Month, which shines the spotlight on authors and illustrators who love picture books and view them as the gateway into art, literature, and literacy. Click HERE to visit the Picture Book Month website. It’s a terrific way to learn more about picture books and why they are so important.

Dianne and I were talking about one aspect of the future of picture book publishing: print books vs. ebooks. Dianne told me about some interesting research she had run across. It turns out that the ebook format for picture books is less successful than the publishing world anticipated. The reason appears to be that kids are far ahead of the grown-ups. The research seems to show that children prefer apps to books. They are fully aware of the capability of an iPad. They think in non-linear terms when they’re plugged in.

What that means is they know what a tablet can do and they want to do it. They want to explore hidden corners. They want to see what special abilities a character has. They want to solve problems and puzzles. They like challenges. They look upon the digital experience as entering a world that they want to get to know on their own. They don’t want to be taken through it on a walkway where they can only be observers. That’s pretty much the ebook experience for picture books. Look at the pictures, listen to the story, read the story. That’s it.

So the question really is not whether digital picture books will replace print books. It’s whether apps will replace picture books—period!

Something to think about.

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