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World Book Day is a celebration of authors, illustrators and reading. It is designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books marked in over 100 countries.
On the 6th of March, children of all ages come together to appreciate books and reading.
The main aim of World Book Day is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading. But the two are no Longer as connected as the once used to be: electronic books, games and apps now form a growing part a child’s reading life. At the same time the number of titles published each year is almost unsustainable as it is staggering. 292,037 new titles and editions in the USA, 149,800 new titles in the UK for a start.
We’ve been led to believe that paper from managed forests is environmentally friendly and responsible. Looking after the environment is slowly persuading businesses (like publishing) to rethink their priorities, but, seriously, with the years it takes to grow a forest one has to wander if the act of chopping trees to make books has contributed to the current changes in our climate…
Perhaps we need to be thinking in terms of promoting reading more than books? I’m definitely in the keep books camp, but it would be great to see smaller numbers and higher quality. After all, the books we have are the ones we love.
It’s been an incredible few months.I’ve been slowly and steadily heading back to doing books full-time and it hasn’t been easy at all.
The plan was to return to the days when there were only books and book ideas on my work list. I have a couple of titles to try as ebooks and started planning for the Bologna Book Fair 2014.
But the idea of becoming a book publisher and a micro sized book publisher at that, worried me. That hasn’t gone away. It may be my vocation, but it’s still business, right? All that lies before me is an incredible schedule of trying to get the titles noticed, paying for a print run and then worrying about when (if) it will make the invested money back. It ooh several more weeks looking at numbers trying to find another way to minimise the risk. With th sol school publishing knowledge I have, it feels like the path gets narrower the further down it one travels. And its great like that; you might brush against a revolutionary new idea and succeed. But you might also brush against something disastrous.
The past few years I have started to value community. These are the people that we can all count on, in however small way. Your neighbourhood, your family, your friends around the world are all incredibly important. I struggled to tell these stories in book form for children. Its better when they are experienced in a different way, somehow. I’ve also been designing and editing newspapers and magazines so have been aware of the many ways to tell a story.
All this preamble is a fitting introduction to the subject of this post. I think I’ve cracked it; the other way to tell stories and still get everything I want!
A tabloid sized newspaper for primary school people. Have a look at the preview.
It won’t be available everywhere. It starts in my neighbourhood early next year. It’s a quarterly. It involves its audience and their grown ups. It brings children’s content to the fore, not just children’s books and I think it’s the closes thing to a physical blog that have ever worked on. If it works, then it will grow and spread. Time will tell.
Two new Lenny Books; Lenny Goes to School & Where’s Lenny? Available in the UK from July…
These two tittles took a little time but came together very well. It’s still thrilling to see your own work in print!
What can you do? You hear something like, I really love your books but this one is too expensive. Why is so pricey?
You explain; all the expertise, time and hours that have gone in to making the book, the production in China, the… You realise that your fan has glazed over, dipped out, you’ve lost him or her.
16 illustrations later, many other hands involved in the process, the publisher’s cut, the bookstore’s cut, the distributor’s cut, everyone has a cut of your £7.99 book. I sometimes think it’s hard to be published these days because so many people have to get paid. We don’t seem to have found a better way to do this publishing thing.
On the other hand people will spend £30 on a poster, which is one piece of paper. I found that out when I offered the Nursery rhymes by hand as A3 prints. A larger profit margin than a book and less effort. Cheaper to print, store and ship.
I haven’t seen many successful attempts at combining posters and books, i.e., one page books. I like the idea a lot.
I’m going to give it a try. Hold on for Design Tribe Books, coming your way soon. I’ll be posting more information over the coming weeks.
I spent time in book shops over the festive season. I realised it is still a better experience than being online.
I also noticed the lack of contemporary stories for children about other cultures. Most, if not all publishers have an anthology of folk tales from ‘the world’. Then, most publishers have the obligatory ‘multicultural’ collections, or a series about a character from somewhere else. But there aren’t many of these and they are so similar that they can be mistaken for being the same.
Children that don’t have access to cultural stories will grow up to be adults that don’t have access to cultural stories. What will they pass on to their children? Flights of fantasy for young children don’t have to all be dragons and giants and talking animals that are candy coloured, or warm and fuzzy. In this age where more respect is being given to a person’s background celebrating cultures could go a long way.
Youth culture is current and ever-changing and really quite exciting. We cannot look at it like a sub culture. It has its own language and code of behaviour which comes out of the your person’s experience as a child.
African culture is all but forgotten by publishers. Traditional culture is crammed in to the one volume I mentioned earlier and modern African culture is simply not present. 54 countries and the cradle of human life is not seen as interesting enough…
If you ever have the opportunity to sit with a book seller our buyer you will hear that these stories simply don’t sell, it’s a sales and marketing issue. I believe it is one of misunderstanding and slight fear. As the world looks to Africa and the East it is only a matter of time before that will change.
So, this year, I will be focusing on cultures of all kinds: How to make them fun, how to turn them into stories. What’s more, I’ll let you know how the year progresses.
A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference.
-Winnie The Pooh
I was on a train underground stuck between stations, sardined between commuters and tourists when this came to mind.