• Ebook Updates for “The Hanger Drawer”

    A while ago the eBook edition of The Hanger Drawer became corrupted on Amazon. As a result, new customers who purchased the book downloaded a copy with text that was garbled, partially off the screen, and/or unreadable. Happy Happy Happy contacted Amazon, the file was restored, and the issue corrected. But customers who received damaged copies did not automatically receive the corrected file. (Amazon stated that the issue did not warrant sending a mandatory update to customers.) However, if you received a corrupted copy of The Hanger Drawer, you can upload a new and readable copy directly from Amazon following these steps:

    1. Log into your Amazon account
    2. Hover over the Your Account menu and click on Manage Your Content and Devices
    3. Click on the Your Content tab and then click Update Available.UpdateBook
    4. A dialog box appears. Click the Update button.

    Amazon will then send a new readable copy of The Hanger Drawer to your Kindle device. All of us at Happy Happy Happy apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

  • What Happened to Happy Happy Happy?

    The Short Answer7 Crystal Ball 72dpi
    We now publish chapter books and picture books in both the Gutenberg print and twenty-first century eBook formats.

    The Long Answer
    When we launched Happy Happy Happy we were full of the promise that eBooks would change the world, not just for adult readers, but for those who would be encountering reading for the first time. And in many ways that is happening. But after publishing our first eBook, The Hanger Drawer, we received an unexpected wave of requests for a print version. So although we sold many copies to families who enjoyed the benefits of reading a full-color picture book from a Kindle or iPad, there was a large segment of the market that wanted the traditional reading experience. We had forgotten the lesson that progress marches, but marches slowly. And had ignored a market segment that wanted our books. Time to change course.

    However, once we started researching the economics of printing color picture books we realized the numbers did not favor a small independent publishing company. To make this cost-effective from a business standpoint, we would need to order print runs much larger than the volume of books we thought we could reasonably sell. But books with black and white interior illustrations were an entirely different matter. Those could be printed in appropriate quantities allowing us to sell them for a reasonable price. So the decision was made: we would publish chapter books for children ages 7-11 in both printed and eBook form, but would, until print costs become more favorable to small publishers, refrain from printed editions of children’s picture eBooks.

    In a few days The 7 Policemen and the Troublesome Time Machine will become available for purchase in printed form. This will be followed by the release of the title’s eBook version in March. Early in 2016 the second 7 Policemen volume will appear in both the print and eBook formats, followed by the third volume in 2017. After that, who knows? Progress still marches.

  • Picture Books That Teach Can Do More

    SleepingSnakeIf you’re not familiar with Johanna Hurwitz you should be. She writes these very knowing and engaging children’s books that capture the joys and challenges of childhood in ways that young children can immediately empathize with and understand. One of her most important creations is the character of Monty. Monty has asthma and when we meet him he is about to enter first grade. Not an easy thing this asthma, but through his adventures we learn that Monty is not defined by his affliction, but thrives despite it. In the course of Monty’s adventures (which fill three books and soon a fourth that is to be published this summer) we learn about what asthma is and how it affects Monte; the things Monty needs to do to keep himself safe; and how this chronic challenge affects him emotionally. But the thrust is always on the character and the emotional journey he takes the reader on. So why can’t children’s picture books that address issues such as allergies and ailments do the same?

    When I look at the choices for children’s picture books surrounding such topics as lactose intolerance, gluten-free diets, food allergies, asthma, and even more widely needed educational material such as potty training the vast majority of the literature (and I use that term loosely) out there falls into the three step instructional model: 1) Here’s the issue we are discussing, 2) Here are important things to know about the issue, and 3) Here are things you can do about the issue. Yes, of course, these provide important information for the very young and the parents trying to explain difficult concepts to them. And they often do a very good job of presenting the information. But just as adults learn best when information is presented in an engaging, emotionally infused manner, so do children. As such, we as publishers, artists, and writers of children’s picture books need to do more. Can there be a picture book where a child has a potty accident that leads him on an adventure of discovery, while still teaching the reader about the potty? Or another where a child’s food allergy prevents something catastrophic from happening to his playmates, but still informs as to the nature of the ailment and how our differences make us stronger?

    There are many arguments. Commerciality. Age appropriateness. The limits of the picture book form and presentation. They are not very good ones.

  • And So It Begins

    owlsmallThis 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.

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