This owl is a little excited. Perplexed. Maybe even a bit unfinished. Sort of like Happy Happy Happy, the children’s ebook company we’re beginning to unveil today. I wrote unveil because those of us working on HHH have been doing so for the last six months. We’ve got three books in very different stages of production: one, having been written and edited, is being illustrated; another has a first draft of the text and preliminary character sketches, but is undergoing editorial review; and the third is still, well it’s still finding its way.
But why children’s picture ebooks? Why not just publish book books? On paper. You know, for kids.
Well, it’s true that the vast majority of children’s picture books — way over ninety-five percent of them — are initially published in standard book form. And it’s also true that most original children’s picture ebooks (those that are not electronic conversions of a physical children’s book) either have poor to middling sales; are not books, but actually interactive apps that offer as much in the way of sound and animation as they do in story; or are, to varying degrees, both interactive and selling poorly. Although there may be one somewhere, to my knowledge, as of this writing, there are no original picture ebooks that succeed both financially and artistically as the kind of books that little kids want you to read to them again and again so they can experience the world created solely by the story and the illustrations.
This doesn’t mean that we are against interactive story apps. Or that we believe the printed children’s book has gone the way of the music CD (which, if not already dead, is truly dying). But too much interactivity at a very young age gets in the way of building the neural pathways that lead to young children gaining the powers of concentration, cognitive inference, and narrative formation. And printed children’s books, as wonderful as they are, are, among other things, too bulky to travel well for the child that gets two or more books read to her each night while on vacation for a week.
There needs to be original and compelling picture books available on tablets and electronic devices for the simple pleasure of reading to a child. Just reading. Nothing more. And hopefully that’s where we come in.
The owl was drawn by one of our artists with help from her three-year-old son. Maybe one day Happy Happy Happy will publish an interactive story app for him. Or, if one of our titles becomes exceedingly popular, he might eventually read one of our ebooks in a printed form. But until that time Happy Happy Happy Publishing will be much like the owl itself: wide-eyed and flapping its wings into the great unknown.