by Joseph T. Sinclair
In an article in Digital Book World, Sandy McDowell bemoans the fact that authors are losing out in the boom in children’s book apps. These are typically picture books, which children use on tablets, that include art work similar to printed children’s books.
Why are authors losing out? Because they haven’t adapted to writing for book apps. The other side of that coin is that creation of children’s book apps therefore falls to digital developers. As a result, the book apps are often deficient in “story.”
It seems there’s a real opportunity here for authors to fill a gap if only they can overcome their intransigence regarding diverse media creation and publishing. It’s 2015, not 2007. Today any author willing to devote time to learning digital technology is capable of using authoring software to create multimedia book apps. After all, 130 years ago Mark Twain learned to use a typewriter. And even if you argue that an author can never become proficient enough in diverse digital media to do broad-based professional media work—an idea I find to be nonsense—at lease the resulting familiarity with digital technology renders an author capable of hands-on supervision of the creative process. Even Picasso had assistants.
It quite clear that the ebook in its current state is incompetent to produce outstanding diverse media publishing due to both its digital deficiencies and the reluctance of marketing platforms that use it to fully implement it (e.g., Amazon Kindle with 100 million accounts). The book app is multimedia-competent and has the opportunity to reach a billion English-speaking people worldwide. Based on these two facts, one would think that authors would be lining up to make multimedia book apps. But apparently not.
Which brings us to a long-term issue. It seems evident that in the not-to-distant future that all publications will be multimedia, not just children’s book apps. And the authors of adult publications seem just as intransigence toward digital technology if not more so. It’s time for all authors to step up to the plate and go for it. Digital technology is very usable via authoring software for even the most slow-witted. And multimedia book apps will be the popular publication packages of the future.
I just bought an Amazon ebook. It was obviously a converted EPUB book because it had audio bites embedded. But I couldn’t play the audio bites because Amazon doesn’t implement diverse media and penalizes file size in the ebooks it sells. I am not a happy consumer. Unhappy consumers shop elsewhere. Diverse media has an important role in book publishing, and if you can’t see that, you may be better off in another industry.
It took me 15 years to switch from thinking of online purchasing first rather than running out to the store to buy something. There are a broad range of items one can purchase online with less expense, less effort, and less gasoline than running out to the store. It took me only 5 years to go from an all-paper personal library to an all-digital library. (I had to buy a paper book recently that isn’t available as an ebook, and I found it to be a very crude way to read.) Now I am 2 years into the process of trying to remember to check iTunes and Google Play for book apps as well as my usual routine of checking Amazon for ebooks. And I’m having a lot of luck in finding useful book apps, many of which aren’t even available in ebook form.
What’s my point? Culturally people move more slowly than technology. Progress seems to crawl along. Then suddenly the game is over. Progress is omnipresent. On to the next innovation. In other words, it may be more useful to ask not whether printed books will continue to exist but rather whether ebooks are now obsolete and that you should turn your efforts to learning how to create and publish multimedia book apps.
The author of this article, Joseph T. Sinclair, is the author of twenty How To books published by national publishers.
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©2015 Joseph T. Sinclair. All rights reserved.