E is for Exciting!

Today I spoke at the Australian Society of Author’s E-Exchange seminar, an introduction to digital publishing in books and apps. I had a great time talking to everyone, listening to the other guest speakers and meeting writers, artists, agents and other publishing professionals.

Vincenzo Pignatelli of Blue Quoll showed what his company is doing with apps for children’s picture books. Their first book, Mr Wolf and the Ginger Cupcakes, looks gorgeous.  The colours are vibrant and the interactive features are pretty cool. The fact that the book can be translated into seven languages is pretty neat too. Blue Quoll are looking for authors and illustrators to work with, and I’m looking forward to seeing where they take the technology.

Splitting Image Colour Studios has been working with traditional publishers for decades, and now they’ve been working on e-publishing for picture books for a few years. These are the guys responsible for the charming adaptations of Graeme Base’s Animalia and Jungle Drums as well as the Four Ingredients cookbook in app form. Director Warren Smith talked about the other projects, including apps, digital books and print on demand books.

Virginia Murdock spoke about Booki.sh, the web-based online e-book seller, associated with Readings Bookstores. For some reason I’d been having trouble getting my head around how Booki.sh worked, as I’d got used to the model where you buy a book and download it to a reader or device. Booki.sh, being web-based, simply allows you to buy your books in your browser and download your current book into the cache for reading anywhere. It’s actually very straightforward. And because it’s web-based, you can tweet links to chapter samples, which is a cool function. Just remember to search for book titles through the Readings ebook link.

Another innovative approach is being taken by Jeannette Rowe, writer of extremely popular books for preschoolers. She’s working with partners to develop a whole website with online books, book-related games and other ventures. It’s terrific to see a writer really taking charge of the ditigal aspects of her career and working with others to find the best way to do that. Rowe herself is passionate and firm about standing up for your (digital) rights.

I was on a great group panel that fielded some great questions from the audience, and then illustrator Ann James of Books Illustrated got us all into separate groups to brainstorm aspects of epublishing and promotion, which generated some great ideas for the convenor, the lovely Marie Alafaci to run by the ASA when she gets back to the office on Monday!

The attendees were all pretty neat too. For all the things that book people have to consider with the new technology—especially considering that we have no idea where it’s all going to go—the future of publishing is wide a slightly scary page for us to write a new history onto. Whatever we’re doing with digital publishing in ten years’ time, this is where we are shaping how that decade ahead may look.

My thanks to the Hazel Edwards and the ASA for asking me to speak, to the other speakers for coming along and all the really cool things they are doing, and to those who came along to dip their toes into the digital waters.