Recently, developer Marco Arment, a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast, wrote on his blog about something he called “AppRot”. Over time, apps that are released into the iOS AppStore for iPhones, iPads and iPods can become unsupported by the original content creator (whether the app is from an independent developer, author or established publisher). This makes apps and other eBook content seem more ‘disposable’ and impermanent than other publishing formats, creating confusion and frustration among consumers who are already nervous about the digital shift. When app developers complain about the tiny margins they are making on digital publications, they are up against not only the lack of a physical product but the very real chance that most experienced consumers of digital books have had a least one bad experience with AppRot.
Before Guttenberg came along and created his moveable type, the line between written and illustrated was much fuzzier. European monks of the 13th and 14th centuries created elaborate Bibles with serpentine drop caps intertwining with often-phantasmagorical biblical scenes. Marginalia abounded. Books were beautiful inside and out. Given most of the population was illiterate and their access to these books—in an age before mechanical reproduction—would have been limited, illustrated storytelling was critically important. And this was illustrated storytelling par excellence. These monks—and their patrons—knew that to put forth a really killer story, you had to both tell and show. Going back even further—to the caves of Lascaux, for instance—and storytelling was exclusively of the illustrated variety.
Serious literature has largely eschewed the image, relegating “picture books” to the stuff you find in the kids section or comic book store. Read more ...
As part of our ongoing work to develop criteria for assessing the quality of children’s digital books and apps, we ran a number of workshops with teachers in local schools and asked them about what they think a good digital book or app should look like and contain. Some of these teachers had never used iPads …
Carisa Kluver's insight:
Excellent list of teacher requests for app developers to consider ...
Over the past two years I’ve been working closely within the library community about digital content for children. I’ve attended conferences, participated in the brilliant @LittleeLit think tank and even co-created training modules to pilot for professional development in multiple states.
But until this past month, after attending the exceptional American Library Association (ALA) 2014 annual conference in Las Vegas, I worried that librarians would not catch up in time. I feared that the digital shift towards apps, tablets, gamification, transmedia storytelling and new media formats was simply moving too fast. For the first few years after the iPad arrived, it seemed possible that the library community may have gotten on board a little too late to be at the front of this crazy digital train. Boy, was I wrong!
If yes, we would love it if you would join the conversation. We have a Google group that serves as the LittleeLit Think Tank (it functions like a listserv so you can interact with it via email, but also an online collaboration tool) where participants post new research, app suggestions, ask logistics questions, or share cool new things they’re tried in their libraries.
We’d love to have you join the conversation! You don’t need to be an expert, and you can even lurk for a bit before sharing or asking anything. We are entirely crowd-sourced and grass-roots, and we believe that everyone has something to share on this topic. Please join us! We want to hear what you’re up to, and if you have a question, there are lots of folks who might be able to answer it.
Carisa Kluver's insight:
Cen Campbell [@LittleeLit] and I are working on building this community into a non-profit think tank for librarians, educators and families with young children ... join the conversation!
At the end of June The New York Times released the following story: Pediatrics Group to Recommend Reading Aloud to Children From Birth. For those of us in the literacy-minded community, this comes as no surprise. But what about those parents for whom reading aloud poses a challenge? Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age is a delightful aid to any new parent, with (as the official description says) “step-by-step instructions on interactive reading and advice for developing your child’s interest in books from the time they are born.”
So I figured, why not interview the author himself? If only to give you just a taste of what the book has in store. Because you know me. I don’t write introductions for no junk. Jason kind submitting to my grilling ...
Carisa Kluver's insight:
Great new book (I'm reading ARC now), out July 15th!
Co-play is tricky business. A couple of years ago Emil Ovemar, Executive Producer and Co-founder ofToca Boca, the company that I work for, asked me to come up with a digital toy concept that would encourage children and parents to play together. The next day, I suggested an app based around the idea of a bike shop. The children would assemble the bikes and the adults would manage the business of the shop, pricing the bikes and selling them to virtual customers. Imagine: a giraffe comes in and needs a tall race bike. The parent says: “Hey kid! Do we have that? No? Can you build it? I’ll tell the giraffe to wait.” Next, a hippo comes in and needs a sturdy beach bike… I thought it was a good concept— the kids get to be creative and the adults handle the books. The app didn’t get made, though, and we never came up with another concept for co-play.
Eventually, we abandoned the idea of designing specifically for child-parent play altogether, and I’m happy about that. Here’s why: many parents, myself included, stink at playing with their children.
Why? Let me give you three reasons ...
Carisa Kluver's insight:
Excellent piece from Toca Boca, developer of many popular, open-ended play-based apps for young children ...
I need your opinion. But first let me tell you why…Ensuring that your digital publication—whether StoryApp, interactive eBook, or print-on-demand product—is discovered and read by customers continues to be one of the greatest challenges facing authors and publishers in the digital space today. * Online distribution channels are “noisy” places. They are flooded with content, not all of it good. (Some might even say most of it.)
* Online distribution channels are not well organized, especially the App Store, making it difficult for publishers, both big and small, to successfully “shelve” their digital offerings for easy discovery. (In fact, it remains quite mysterious how to best choose your categories.)
* Online distribution channels can be daunting for the consumer, many of whom never dig deeper than what is “fed” to them by way of top picks, editor's choices, and other recommendations. For the producer, the mere act of being on the App or iBookstores, Google Play, or on Amazon does not mean your job is done. Far from it. You now need social proof that your content is worth someone’s attention. This involves marketing. Lots of it. Ongoingly. And for the long haul.I can state from experience, that digital publishing, while seemingly the opportunity of our age, is not for the faint of heart.Because the name of the game—the way to get highlighted by Apple or Amazon, for example—is through downloads, lots of them, as well as high ratings and positive reviews. The more you get, the more likely you are to hit that magical tipping point where the system works for you, so you get even more. Only then does quality content rise above and get noticed in the crowd.Developers with big marketing budgets know this. That’s why they allocate resources in an attempt to trip the system: giving their product away in order to boost downloads and/or paying for reviews are just two examples. These practices prove my point: To survive in the digital ecosystem, you need ratings and reviews. Reviews, especially good ones, are a kind of social currency. If I give your book a positive review, someone else is more likely to take your book seriously, purchase it, and also post a glowing review.Even a bad review, if well-founded, can be turned into a positive if you use it to update and improve your book or product.True, not all good reviews guarantee quality content. Some are just plain fake. But the power of a positive review cannot be overstated.It’s exactly this type of community engagement that has driven such powerful social engines as TripAdvisor.So, on behalf of all content creators out there, when you buy your next favorite book or app, the one you think deserves mention, please take a moment to go back to the store where you bought it and send up a starred review.It takes many years, a lot of faith, and valuable resources of both time and money to write a great book or to produce a winning app. Yet, it takes mere minutes to let an author or developer know how much you appreciate their efforts.* * * Consider adding Beware Madame la Guillotine to your reading list this summer. Request your FREE pdf download in exchange for an honest review directly on Amazon. I will be forever grateful.
How diverse is your child’s library? How diverse are the apps on your digital devices? I’ve collected some resources to help parents and caregivers build diverse digital libraries.
At the American Library Association’s annual conference, the “Promoting Cultural Competence in Digital Storytimes” session explored apps that parents can use to build a more diverse digital library. I’ve embedded the slides from that presentation below…
In 2013, Nelleke Belo, Susan McKenney, and Joke Voogt conducted a review to further understand research outcomes in the use of technology for early literacy acquisition in the kindergarten classroom. Drawing on four academic literature databases, the research team narrowed 13,070 initial hits to 46 articles that met their selection criteria. These articles, explicitly focused on technology as an independent variable, were aimed at kindergarten-age students, included early literacy development, and were published after 2001. Drawing on previous research affordances as well as gaps in the literature, the authors asked:
Carisa Kluver's insight:
Great review of research literature, concluding that: "technologies have affordances and constraints making them more or less useful in different circumstances. The review provided evidence that electronic storybooks can lead to significant early literacy gains. However, there were also other technologies highlighted in this review that were successful in literacy acquisition. More importantly, electronic storybooks impacted literacy skills differently based on the interactivity they afforded and the number of student interactions offered."
At the American Library Association conference in Las Vegas last weekend, librarians from around the country showed how apps and digital media can encourage literacy–dispelling fears that digital media will destroy our love of reading.
The Effectiveness of Free eBooks is Declining: Smashwords
Offering up a free copy of your eBook has been a good way for self-published and first-time authors to promote their books to new readers. However, according to a new report from self-publishing site Smashwords, that tool may soon be played out.
Why read nonfiction? The utilitarian reasons are the ones cited most. We read to understand the fine print of contracts, how to operate the new-fangled gadget we just overpaid for, to make sure we don't get the side effects of a new medication....