Children’s Publishing Goes Digital at the Frankfurt Book Fair

At the Children’s Publishing Goes Digital conference, hosted by Publishers Launch and the Frankfurt Book Fair, and chaired by Lorraine Shanley of Market Partners International and Publishing Trends, some unexpected themes emerged from the assembled speakers:

Kids (or perhaps their parents) are not buying ebooks, so (for now) print books are still big.  That goes for teens, who may also be suffering from “digital fatigue” – and therefore enjoy a break from texting and surfing, said Bowker‘s Kelly Gallagher.

As long as apps are being created in English, they may as well have other languages teed up, for licensing in other countries.  Games apps — which lead the way in the app environment — do this routinely.

Generally, book apps aren’t successfully marketed except by bloggers and print reviewers. The best way to sell them is, ironically, through apps — a store like TouchyBooks (which has already had 1 million downloads) or — as they’re hoping — through a reading app like the one Scholastic‘s launching.

Discovery is harder with children’s books because a lot of publishers don’t like “search inside the book.”  Options include widgets that can be opened but not downloaded, or — as Mike Shatzkin suggested — laying out the pages for the parent to view (but not download).

Everything is moving so quickly that everything is worth trying, if it’s cheap enough to produce. Parents don’t buy ebooks based on how many pages they’re paying for — just on the story, characters and price, according to Sesame Workshop‘s Jennifer Perry.

Though major licensors like Nickelodeon could produce and sell their ebooks and apps worldwide, they still rely on local developers and publishers to customize and market their content.

Educational publishers have not yet created exciting digital content, said Disney‘s Russell Hampton, so it affords consumer publishers and developers an opportunity to move into this market.

Price testing is critical as customers have no memory for what went before.  So discount, and they buy more, but raise the price above the original — and they’ll buy at the rate at which they originally bought.

For a list of speakers and topics, go to www.publisherslaunch-frankfurt/childrens-publishing-goes-digital/

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