Feb 22, 2013

Picture Books and Ebooks: A Winning Combination?

Ebooks are the new frontier of publishing in a fast-paced industry (hello, Amazon’s “used ebooks”). As digitizing becomes more common, new obstacles and innovations unique to the ebook abound. For publishers of titles for both children and adults like Scarletta, the books that pose the most exciting challenge in going digital are picture books.

From the beginning, picture ebooks demanded new technology that adult fiction and non-fiction did not. It was only in 2011 when color display readers were developed and the first picture ebooks were published. Though the picture quality doesn’t compromise the vividness of the illustrations, some aspects can be lost when a print picture book is transferred to ebook form. The two-page spread, for instance, which is a panoramic-like illustration that reaches across two pages, can be accommodated by Apple’s iPad, but can’t be fully appreciated in readers like the NookColor or the Kindle. Fold-out spreads, end-paper art, and different book sizes (think a tall, skinny book about giraffes) are among the embellishments that are unique to print picture books.

And what are the effects of this digital shift on our young readers?
The debate continues between the benefits of print versus digital books when kids are learning to read. Print books—especially heavy-duty board books for toddlers—offer a tactile experience that may more readily teach kids to differentiate between textures, shapes, and colors. Ipads in particular may be an obstacle to quiet reading time in that non-book related games are only a tap away.

But how can ebooks be seen as an improvement upon the print book? Whether in the classroom or at home, kids can use the ebook’s read-along function and read independently. Certain readers will recommend similar books after an ebook is read, making it simple to read up on a particular subject or discover new books. And what about apps? They can provide an even more interactive reading experience by allowing for read-alouds in multiple languages, animation, and sound effects. (Check out our cool app for Nalah and the Pink Tiger to experience all of the above!) Not only can this make for a more exciting read for kids, but it can make aspects of learning (what sound a tiger makes, how to read a certain word) easier. All-in-all, whether you experience picture books as an app, on an e-reader, or on paper, you’ll be sure to find some form of a good read!


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