Articles tagged "reading"

Print Books Bounce Back

The reports of the death of the printed book have been greatly exaggerated.

Sales figures from the end of last year show that while they don’t dominate the marketplace as they once did, print books are showing a good amount of resiliency during the precipitous rise of eBooks and the shifting of content from the printed word to a digital sphere. According to the Wall Street Journal, the role of eBooks might have been greatly overestimated. “It may be that e-books, rather than replacing printed books, will ultimately serve a role more like that of audiobooks — a complement to traditional reading, not a substitute.”

It’s fair to say that a seamless transition from printed books to digital ones just isn’t happening, and the marketplace that we live in now — where both printed books and eBooks are having brisk sales — might be here for some time. According to a 2012 survey by Bowker Market Research, 59% of Americans say they have “no interest” in buying an eBooks. While I believe that this number will go down as more and more Americans familiarize themselves with reading on digital devices like tablets, it goes to show just how much of the population is still wedded to our old friend, the printed book. This transitional market bodes well for authors looking to explore multi-platform publishing, as they will be able to test the waters of both a digital and print readership, and see which one works best for their content.

While it doesn’t appear the the rise of eBooks has stopped in its tracks, it has definitely slowed. When it comes to eBooks, a lot of consumers and providers are still working out the kinks. Publishers are still trying to figure out how much they should cost, while libraries are desperately trying to make them widely available to the public. In the goodwill of making eBooks and an author’s content as widely available and as equitable for both the reader and author as possible, Lulu recently said goodbye to DRM. So while the market has definitely shifted over the past few years, we won’t be living tomorrow in a world without the printed book, and probably won’t for years to come.

Early Age, Early Adopters: How Kids’ Aptitudes for Tech Change the Face of Reading

Photo Credit: http://ar.gy/38fP

Children interact with technology in a different way than we do. Their brains are like sponges, which means they are able to intuitively use any new technology without reference to older ones.

Give a child an iPad and watch what happens — within minutes he’ll be more proficient than you. When it comes to eBooks, the demographic difference between young and old readers is just as stark: according to a new study on digitalbookworld.com, more than half of U.S. kids are reading eBooks, which is more than double the proportion of adults who are e-reading.

Consider what this means as these young readers mature to become the dominant consumer block. These readers will be mostly digital-natives, their cherished childhood reading memories formed in the glow of an iPad and not the heft of a book.

While sales for eBooks have slowed their pace recently, all signs point to them becoming the dominant form of book within the next few years. Young readers will take the surge of eBook reading from the Children’s genre to Young Adult, and eventually to Contemporary Fiction. The study also found that young e-readers are reading a lot: 85% of young e-readers are reading at least one book a week, which, if you’ve worked with children, is a pretty outstanding figure.

Still, some impediments remain for young e-readers. Only 54% of children have access to tablets, where most young readers find eBooks. Once tablets and handheld computing become more popular and less expensive, we can expect the number of young e-readers to rise even more.

School programs that utilize tablets, as well as the popularity of smartphones with larger screens, will make eBooks soon indispensable to the learning environment, eventually turning an entire generation into e- readers.

And while we aren’t saying goodbye to print just yet, it does seem like there are going to be swaths of the population in a few short years who simply have never read a print book. For print books, its not the pricing that may be their downfall, it’s the speed at which children can adapt to new technologies.

Collaborative Storytelling with Kids

When I was little, I took stories my parents told me and added to them as I drifted to sleep. My mind would take a story and turn it into something very different. Bedtime stories becomes so much more than just stories in the imaginative minds of children — they become worlds.

Thanks to independent publishing, children and parents are using teamwork to create polished novels that can be shared with other young readers. A profile in Wired details how a father and his two young sons were able to collaborate on a successful fantasy book for children. Nimpentoad, which the family published independently, has been a success as well as a learning experience for the two young authors, Josh and Harrison. The boys have been selling their book at farmers’ markets, participating in public speaking engagements and agreeing to interviews for profiles in Young Entrepreneur Magazine. They are learning at an early age that publishing is just one step in the process of becoming a successful author.

Josh, Harrison and their father, Henry, are part of a long history of intergenerational writers who have used writing as both a teaching experience and a way to bring generations together by changing storytelling into a more participatory process. Writing groups around the country use intergenerational writing practices to keep seniors and young people interacting with one another.

Intergenerational writing can also help children with learning disabilities by encouraging them to continue to write outside of the classroom setting. Hal and Alex Malchow wrote their fantasy novel, The Sword of Darrow, when Alex, who is dyslexic, needed encouragement to continue his uphill climb toward reading at his own grade level. Alex was able to use the confidence from writing the book to tackle his own disability.

What intergenerational writing have you done? What have you learned from young storytellers, and what is your best advice for them?

Related Services: Children’s Formatting Service

Creativity Strikes! Interview with Children’s Writer Sandra Arthur

As the social media manager here at Lulu, I have the lucky task of monitoring our Facebook Page. I can’t tell you what a delight it is to communicate directly with so many of our authors and to get a chance to see the creative ways you all have to reach your readers. I’m constantly impressed. The other day I saw a post from an author named Sandra Arthur and wanted to share with you about an ingenious workshop she created to get kids excited about reading and to teach them about endangered orangutans and the rainforest of Borneo. She kindly agreed to an interview (shown below), so I hope you will enjoy getting to read a bit about one of your fellow Lulu authors.

Can you please share a few words about the Jungle Workshop you organized?

I ran a “Jungle Workshop” to provide a fun storytelling experience for children. I was lucky to get support from a local, independent bookshop/café/toy shop. I created a Rainforest Room with a tent and decorations.

Do enhanced eBooks promote children’s literacy?

Mixing a children’s book with something like a videogame seems like a no-brainer for promoting reading skills, right? Apparently not.

A new study finds that enhanced eBooks for children don’t raise literacy levels. The study, which followed 32 pairs of parents working with young children, found that the young readers were distracted by the many different interactive parts of the enhanced story, and quickly forgot certain key parts of the narrative. The young readers were given an eBook, a physical copy, and an enhanced eBook version of the same story. After reading them all, the comprehension just didn’t add up.

The authors of the study commented, “The enhanced eBook was less effective than the print and basic ebook in supporting the benefits of co-reading because it prompted more non-content related interactions. When adults prompt children with questions pertaining to the text, label objects, and encourage them to discuss the book’s content in terms of their own experiences and curiosities, this elicits increased verbalization by the child and can lead to improved vocabulary and overall language development.”

The Upward eBook Trend

According to a recent MediaBistro article, “net sales revenue from eBooks have surpassed hardcover books in the first quarter of 2012.” The data comes from the March Association of American Publishers (AAP) net sales revenue report. I think that this was always expected, but it’s still indicative of a paradigm shift in book sales: It is now more popular to download a book than to pick up a hardcover copy at your local bookstore or order one shipped to your door.

While trade paperbacks still lead the industry in sales, it does seem inevitable that at some point, eBooks will make up the vast majority of book sales while physical books will fill a niche role. One of the main drivers of this surge in eBooks is the fact that people with e-readers just read more books. A Pew study, released in April of this year, found that “the average reader of eBooks says she has read 24 books (the mean number) in the past 12 months, compared with an average of 15 books by a non-eBook consumer.”

Sizzlin’ Summer Reading List

Summer is officially here, and with it brings a heat wave. Ever felt like you’re just too hot to even move, let alone write a novel? So what better way to deal with the heat then by finding a shady spot and reading your favorite books about heat waves?

Here are some recommendations I have. They tend to be a bit on the scarier side of things, but that’s to keep your mind off this terrifying heat:

Cujo by Stephen King: A mother and son get trapped inside a Ford Pinto during the hottest summer in 30 years. A rabid dog waits to pounce if they attempt to leave. Uplifting reading, best done on a sweaty subway car surrounded by almost-rabid commuters.

To Kill a Mockingbird: Our precocious narrator Scout describes that fateful summer,  “Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square; Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning; Ladies bathed before noon, after their three o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.

Innovative Ways to Leverage eBook Technology

Only “print” your book with Lulu? You could be missing out. According to Reuters, one-fifth of American adults read an eBook last year, with the number surely to keep rising over the next few years.

As readers move away from print, the electronic realm can become a lucrative option for self-published authors. The rise in eBooks provides some amazing opportunities, like:

  • Updated editions of non-fiction books
  • Extra chapters
  • The ability to try out releasing a book electronically before committing to print

Lulu.com is #1 in eBooks, but what about our old, beloved friend, print? Well, he’s getting a boost as well. With more readers come more recommendations, and even though e-readers are sweeping the nation, it still doesn’t make up the majority of the market. So more often than not, people who are being recommended books can’t buy the eBook, instead they buy it on good ol’ fashion print.

So where does this leave you, the writer? We live in exciting, changing times for authors. Perhaps you would like to test some new material that your readers aren’t quite familiar with? Then perhaps an eBook is the way to go. Once that takes off, you can print your book so the people who its being recommended to (who don’t have e-readers) can order your print version.

Some might lament — this is surely the death of print, right? Well, not necessarily.

As eBooks continue to gain popularity, writers will find new, creative way to utilize print — trying out new design schemes, or offering some print-only content. The future of publishing is going to be dictated by the self-publishers. A new profit-model will be determined by the adventurous writers who try out new ways to promote and distribute their work. Be it print, digital, or something we haven’t even thought of yet, self-publishers will be the engine of innovation for the industry.

“Butterfly in the sky…”

LeVar Burton, doing what he loves.

So, last night I found the picture below on the often hilarious shirt.woot.com. I was suddenly flooded with memories of my favorite show as a kid: Reading Rainbow. Sadly, I realized that, before last night, I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I even thought about this program. Then it dawned on me…the entire reason I like books, love writing, and work at a self-publishing company isn’t because of all the Hemingways, Faulkners, and Emersons – it is because of one man: LeVar Burton.

With his warm, friendly charm, Burton captured childrens’ imaginations each week with fun stories, guest celebrity appearances, and a genuine enthusiasm to inspire kids to read. Without this show, I wouldn’t have discovered greats like Goodnight Moon, Miss Nelson is Missing,The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or Where the Wild Things Are. Even more remarkable is Burton’s 20+ year struggle with dyslexia, which he overcame before auditioning for Reading Rainbow.

It took a silly cartoon to remind me, but Burton really is a true inspiration. He diligently piloted the show Reading Rainbow, helping it win a Peabody Award and 26 Emmy Awards. The man is almost single-handedly responsible for helping four generations of kids not only learn to read, but find the fun in it. My favorite episode was when he went to a hat store. Each hat would magically transport him into the pages of a story. I remember endlessly begging my mother to take me to that shop for the better part of my youth.  I think I speak for several hundred-thousand kids when I say:  Thank you Mr. Burton. Thank you for teaching us that yes, “we can do anything.”

Wonderfully enough, Reading Rainbow will be coming back on an iPad® near you soon. According to Fast Company, Burton plans on revitalizing the show as a multimedia app with games, voiceovers, and over 300 books at launch. “But, you don’t have to take my word for it…”


What’s your favorite Reading Rainbow memory? Did it impact you as much as it did so many other young readers? Feel free to share in the comments below. Also be sure to learn about Lulu’s own literacy program:  Lulu for Literacy.

Reading for Sport?

What is it with turning regular every day activities into contests?  The simple joy of eating a hot dog is now a sanctioned event governed by the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE). Ironing is now an extreme sport as is growing a beard.  Don’t get me wrong … as both a competitive person and a male (age 18 to 35) I can appreciate a ridiculous challenge, and while I am skeptical about challenging people to read, I feel that if you’re going to do so there needs to be rules.

This morning, I came across the following blog post on Flavorwire.com entitled “10 Novels That We Dare You to Finish.”  In the post, “foolhardy readers” are encouraged to go through the list and comment on which titles, if any, were finished with ease.  In a related blog post, GallyCat editor Jason Boog has included links to “free eBook copies of five massive novels.”  Boog who enjoys reading electronic versions of long novels feels this approach “seems like the perfect way to interact with these unwieldy titles.”

Boog does raise an interesting point in that downloading a free version of something like War and Peace may certainly be more convenient than borrowing it from the local library or finding a cheap copy of the title at a used book store.  But if one is being challenged (or in the case of Flavorwire  … “dared”) to read these titles, then I would argue that downloading the “e” version is cheating.

If you are going to challenge someone to read titles that “also function as doorstops,” then I feel you should only read the print-versions.  It wouldn’t be the same experience otherwise.  The most cumbersome book I own is Carl Jung’s The Red Book (Liber Novus).   The book is a whopping 15 by 12 inches and almost 10 pounds.  When I read it, my wife thinks I look like a Benedictine Monk studying some ancient text.  The content of Jung’s book is fascinating, and I can’t imagine one having the same experience with an eBook-version of it (I don’t even know if an electronic version exists to be honest).  Moreover, what little remains of the book’s original simulacrum would be further diminished, I feel, when converted and displayed in electronic form.

For most readers, the simple joy of reading is motivation enough to tackle titles like War and Peace or The Red Book.  But if you’re going to challenge people who would not normally read “long, long books,” then I would force these folks to stick to print-versions only.  I feel you should have to lug them around with you in all their unwieldy glory.  In doing so, it will make for a richer experience.  At the very least, when the challenge is over, you’ll still have a physical version of the book.  Like a trophy on a bookshelf from some sporting challenge, it will stand as proof of your prior conquest.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?