Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Website Offers Innovative Book E-Catalog

First Chapter Plus, just launched online, allows authors to list their books with first chapter previews for readers, and it provides an e-catalog so bookstores, librarians, reviewers, and bloggers can make educated and easy book-buying decisions.

Austin, TX —First Chapter Plus replaces paper book catalogs with quick and easy ordering information and full chapter previews beyond what any paper catalog could ever do. Its new e-catalog is what the twenty-first century publishing world has long needed.

First Chapter Plus is on a mission to tell libraries, independent bookstores, the media, readers, other writers, bloggers, and reviewers about the latest and greatest books just published or about to be published. Through its easy to use website and its free monthly e-catalog, First Chapter Plus provides listings of new books, their first chapters to preview, and direct links to Amazon so readers can immediately order the books they are confident they will enjoy.

Irene Watson, creator of First Chapter Plus, says of the site’s origins, “We polled, studied, asked, investigated...and then we thought about the responses before we moved forward. We are filling a need of librarians and bookstore owners! Yes, they want this e-catalog—they’ve told us so through our opt-in campaign. And, they are super-excited about being able to read the First Chapter of so many new books.”

That excitement is backed up with facts. Already, the statistics of subscribers to First Chapter Plus’ e-catalog are astonishingly impressive:

• 20,000 + public librarians in the United States

• 3,300 + independent bookstores in the United States

• 300 + media columnists and editors in the United States

• 11,000 + readers, writers, and bloggers worldwide

The numbers make clear that First Chapter Plus has hit upon a need it is ready to fulfill.

Just since its website launch on April 1, 2010, First Chapter Plus has been inundated with requests by authors to be listed. Frena Gray-Davidson, author of “Alzheimer’s 911,” is thrilled with the results: “My Amazon listing number has gone from about 250,000 to 66,000, which is the best I’ve ever had on Amazon so far, and this has only happened in the last few days, so clearly people are buying my book from your listing. Thank you so much.”

About First Chapter Plus

First Chapter Plus is the latest innovative idea of Irene Watson, author, literary agent, and owner of Reader Views, a book review service based in Austin, TX. Reader Views has been reviewing books and offering author publicity services since 2006. Because of her central role in the book world, Watson has listened to authors, reviewers, bloggers, publishers, bookstore owners, and librarians continually express what they need—a fast, easy, yet sophisticated and technologically cutting-edge means to promote and/or order books. The early success of First Chapter Plus suggests that Watson’s website and e-catalog concept is her most ingenious to date.

To list books at First Chapter Plus or to sign up for the free monthly e-catalog, visit

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

We've got some great Teasers today, come check them out!

"Experts disagree as to whether smoking causes depression or depression causes people to smoke. However, they do agree that smokers are much more likely than nonsmokers to have a history of depression." p. 173

"Even though Michael was trapped on the sofa for several days, Gracie managed to evade any reference to the charged kiss they'd shared. She didn't know how to deal with it herself, let alone talk about it with him."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Reviewer's Tip - Don't Do This!

Here's another tip from the "Don't Do This" pile - and yes, this was something that was actually done.  When preparing your book's back cover, don't write - "For review, see" if you haven't already received a review from Joe Smith Book Reviews!!! It's common practice to put a review quote on the back cover that was received prior to the book's publication (and a great idea).  But to print a review site's url on the back cover, not knowing what kind of review the book will get (assuming it will even get a review) is a bad idea.  In the case we recently had, the book in question had serious editorial problems and we were unable to give a positive review.  The author should never have listed our site, or any site for that matter, on her back cover prior to getting the review.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Finds

Come on everybody, check out Feathered Quill's latest books in review, you know you wanna!

Based upon Availability: A Novel

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesday!

Welcome to the latest edition of Teaser Tuesday!

"Unless you can connect with others in some tangible form, you cannot serve or help them.  As a good steward, you must show the ability to empathize with others."

"I've mentioned that writing a whole eBook can be a daunting task, and I have included a chapter full of techniques and advice that will help you make sure you get to the end of your own personal journey.  That's coming up next."

"Our pilot aired on Saturday, March 30th, 1974 and I guess we were a hit, because NBC ordered 24 episodes of 'Little House on the Prairie' for the coming season.  Quicker than I could say "Mickey Mouse," I was bounced off Dopey Drive at Disney and into Walnut Grove and the Little House."

"A lady does not smoke, ride astride, fence, or attend duels - nor does she fire a pistol or gamble at a gentleman's club. But if Lady Calpurnia Hartwell isn't careful, she'll break the most important rule of all…and fall desperately in love with a rake."

"My Crappy Little Kitchen experiences molded me into a better chef and a better person than I was before, and your CLK experiences can do the same for you."

Another Lawsuit from Amazon

Amazon Sues North Carolina over Demand for Customer Records

by Jim Milliot -- Reprinted with permission of Publishers Weekly
Amazon has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Seattle against the North Carolina Department of Revenue charging that its demand that Amazon turn over the names and addresses of all residents who bought anything from the e-tailer since 2003 is an invasion of privacy and a violation of the First Amendment. The request by North Carolina is part of that state's efforts to collect sales tax on items purchased by North Carolina residents from Amazon. In the complaint, Amazon also said North Carolina is demanding it turn over records of what each customer purchased and how much they paid. When North Carolina first announced its plans to collect sales tax from online retailers, Amazon closed down its affiliates program in the state, arguing that without that program the state had no nexus to collect sales tax.

In the complaint Amazon says it must either comply with the information request from North Carolina "and violate the privacy and First Amendment rights of Amazon and its North Carolina customers, or refuse to comply with a request from a state agency that has stated its intention to issue an administrative summons." Amazon further argued that the North Carolina tax collectors have no need "to know the identities and other personal information linking specific customers with any purchase, much less purchases of books, movies, music and other expressive works."

Brick-and-mortar stores have long lobbied for states to collect sales tax from online retailers, arguing that not doing so gives all e-tailers an unfair pricing advantage. Retailers, however, have also long championed protecting the privacy rights of customers, particularly buyers of books and other content-based material. Chris Finan, head of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, said the demand by North Carolina "is clearly a right to privacy issue." If North Carolina were successful "it would have a terrible chilling affect" on what people could comfortably buy, Finan said. He noted that Amazon has provided North Carolina with lots of information short of personal data and that "there is simply no justification for demanding to know who bought what."

The lawsuit, however, "doesn't impact one way or another on whether Amazon should pay its taxes," Finan added. He explained that often after requesting private information states tend to back down, and Finan said he hopes that after looking at the demand again, North Carolina will withdraw its request. If the case does go to trial, Finan said, ABFFE would likely "put our oar in the water" in support of Amazon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

New Reviews at Feathered Quill

Looking for something good to read?  Check out a sampling of our latest reviews:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Author Interview with Danny D. Langone

Today we're talking with Danny D. Langone, author of Flybait's Lament.

FQ: Humor plays a big role in Flybait’s Lament. What do you find funny?

Let me begin by saying that humor, in my estimation, is the only emotion that will bring people together regardless of their faith or geographic origin. I find the frailty of the human ego to be the basis for humor and people from all walks of life can relate to it. Humor more than any other emotion has the ability to tell the truth. Although there are numerous scatological references in Flybait I find the bathroom to be the great equalizer in mankind. Regardless of societal status no one is more exposed and at their most vulnerable than when comfronted with nature's call.

FQ: Who are your favorite humorous writers and comedians?

I love the humor of Jeff Foxworthy and Jonathen Winters, the subtleness of Charles Dickens, and from my childhood the homespun humor of Charley Weaver from whom some of my characters were created.

FQ: You paint your character portraits with great descriptive flair. Where do these characters come from? Are they based on people you have met or strictly a product of your imagination?

My characters are a combination of the essences from people I knew or met ( greatly amplified) and mental impressions.

FQ: What inspired you to write this story?

The inspiration for writing Flybait's Lament stemmed from a desire to tell a story that uncovers the purely ego driven values of people. I have developed a deep interest in looking at people and what motivates them and how they justify things they do and say.

FQ: The town of Flybait is as much a character in this story as any of the people. Tell us about the process of creating this town.

Flybait offers the reader the opportunity view the balance between success and failure. It is an example of the yin/yang of the Tao. A gorgeous flower with root rot. The tragedies that befall the characters may have happened regardless but they are amplified by the starkness of the bones of the town, crushed hopes flagged by the headstones of rotting forgotten buildings. Just as Heaven needs Hell, humor requires tragedy and Flybait is there to provide it.

FQ: What’s next for you? Will we read about any other adventures of the inhabitants of Flybait?

The future holds a new novella entitled Wilt's Hollow, and then a return to Flybait withFlybait's Reclamation, and a second book of poetry entitled The Idle Hours that follows my first book Keys to the Condo, A View of Life by an Almost Old Man.

To learn more about Flybait’s Lament please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Finds

Yes, it's that Friday Finds time of the week again! FQ's latest books in review for all to check out.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sell 272,930 Books???!!!

BiblioBazaar: How a Company Produces 272,930 Books A Year

By Andrew Albanese  Reprinted with permission of Publishers Weekly

When Bowker's 2009 book industry stats were released yesterday many in the industry were stunned to see an unfamiliar company name, BiblioBazaar, leading a surging new segment of "non-traditional" publishing stats with a whopping 272,930 titles produced in 2009--almost as many titles the entire "traditional" publishing business cranked out last year. Could it be? Could one little-known company really produce so much volume?

"If by ‘produce' you mean create a cover file that will print at multiple POD vendors, a book block that will print at multiple POD vendors, and metadata to sell that book in global sales channels, then yes we did produce that many titles," said Mitchell Davis, president of BiblioLife, parent company of BiblioBazaar.

While e-books, iPads and Kindles have dominated the headlines, BiblioLife is one of handful of smart, new, technology-enabled companies driving an exciting trend in the publishing world. Working closely with libraries, archives and aggregators, the company puts out-of-copyright books back into good old-fashioned print, one copy at a time, using print-on-demand technology.

"We are really a software company that has books coming out at the end of our process." Davis explains. "We have built a large IT infrastructure and a proprietary platform where we take disparate inputs and turn what is essentially a picture of a book page, into what a reader expects a book will look like, and we do that for more than a thousand books a day for distribution through multiple POD channels, in multiple countries and markets."

All of the company's content is in the public domain, and are basically "historical reprints," Davis told PW, with foreign language books, and their "added layers of complexity" the fastest growing category of books. "Dealing with out-of-copyright materials lets us leverage our knowledge and relationships in the global bookselling industry more easily as we build out what is shaping up to be a pretty killer platform," he notes.

Speaking of killer platforms, Davis has some experience with those. Davis, along with BiblioLife CEO Bob Holt and CFO Andrew Roskill, were founders of BookSurge, POD software and publishing services company bought by Amazon in 2005. After that deal, Davis spent two years at Amazon in Seattle, working as a condition of the acquisition to help with the integration of BookSurge into a division now known as CreateSpace.

So how has Bibliolife, despite its major production, flown under the radar until this year's Bowker stats came out? For one, Davis says, the company simply isn't seeking publicity as much as good solid relationships and content partnerships. "We aren't a press release-centric company, and we are really focused on unique materials that are not part of mass digitization projects," he explained. "Who has that content and how we are getting it is something that is a competitive advantage."

So much for technology ending print, meanwhile. In fact, if anything the Bowker numbers show technology is driving print businesses for companies like BiblioLife, which uses numerous distribution partners around the world, to create a dynamic, new publishing business. "We are a classic long tail business," Davis notes. "We understand how to operate a lean, global publishing operation focused on process. I think it is more exciting for libraries who can leverage their content expertise into being publishers at a pretty massive scale. A few copies of each book adds up if you are running a business with lean enough operational overhead. The key is finding unique content and realizing that content does not sell itself. We get up every day looking for new sales channels, new products, and new packaging relationships."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Self-Published Books Soar

FQ Note: Great news for Indies/self-publishers but check out the comments at the end of the article (on the PW page):

Self-Published Titles Topped 764,000 in 2009 as Traditional Output Dipped

By Jim Milliot -- Reprinted with permission of Publishers Weekly

A staggering 764,448 titles were produced in 2009 by self-publishers and micro-niche publishers, according to statistics released this morning by R.R. Bowker. The number of "nontraditional" titles dwarfed that of traditional books whose output slipped to 288,355 last year from 289,729 in 2008. Taken together, total book output rose 87% last year, to over 1 million books.

Among the traditional titles, fiction remained the largest segment, although output fell 15%, to 45,181 titles, marking the second consecutive year that fiction production declined. The nonfiction segments were mixed with growth coming in educational and practical areas such as technology (up 11%), science, and personal finance (both up 9%). Categories that depend more on discretional spending fell with the production of cookery and language titles falling the most at 16% each. The travel and sports and recreation segments had declines of 5% and 4%, respectively. Other major categories where output rose included children's, up 6%, to 32,348, biography, up 8% to 12,313, and religion, up 6% to 19,310.

Changes in growth rates in the traditional book segments, however, were overshadowed by the explosive gains posted by what Bowker calls the unclassified titles. The category consists largely of reprints, including those of public domain titles, plus other titles that are produced using print-on-demand production. According to Bowker, the largest producer of nontraditional books last year was BiblioBazaar which produced 272,930 titles, followed by Books LLC and Kessinger Publishing LLC which produced 224,460 and 190,175 titles, respectively. The Amazon subsidiary CreateSpace produced 21,819 books in 2009, while released 10,386. Xlibris and AuthorHouse, two imprints of AuthorSolutions, produced 10,161 and 9,445, title respectively. In something of an understatement, Kelly Gallagher, v-p of publishing services for Bowker, said that given the exceptional gains in the nontraditional segment the last three years, growth in that area "show[s] no signs of abating."

Turn off the TV!

Lose that Remote and Seize the Day!

TV Turnoff Week Overlaps with Earth Day this Year

Mount Pleasant, SC (April 13, 2010) – Join Sylvan Dell in celebrating national TV Turnoff Week April 19-25 and Earth Day, April 22. Every year this week challenges families to turn off their television sets and find an alternate form of entertainment. Earth Day, celebrating its 40th year, happens to fall right in the middle of TV Turnoff Week this year and provides a perfect excuse to turn off the television and learn about the earth.

So, instead of channel surfing, do something good for the Earth. Here are some suggestions:

Visit an animal rehabilitation center near you. Ask what types of animals do they help? Are any of these animals endangered or threatened? What can you do to help?

Take a trip to the zoo or your local aquarium. Turn it into a learning activity. Draw or make a list of the ways the animals are alike or different.

Go hiking in a nature reserve. Collect leaves, shells and flower petals. Draw a tree or make a nature journal.

Visit a nature museum. Quiz yourself after, what do you remember? Write down what you learned.

Read a book like “Where Should Turtle Be?” or “What’s New At the Zoo?” Sylvan Dell books are great educational resources that promote awareness and appreciation for animals and the environment.

Sylvan Dell is participating by giving schools, libraries and families free access to their 50 eBooks for the week of April 19-25. More than 40 of these eBooks explore Earth Day related themes including marine animals, habitats, wildlife, zoo animals, earth and physical science, birds, and astronomy. So, before deciding to turn on the TV, read an eBook and learn about the wonders of the Earth!

For more information about Earth Day, visit
For more information about “TV Turnoff Week,” visit:
For more information about Sylvan Dell Publishing, visit:

eBook access instructions are located on the Sylvan Dell website at:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Teaser Tuesday!

Welcome to the Teaser Tuesday edition of our latest books in review, enjoy!

"Wait," said Bit.  A crazy idea flashed in her mind, a way to help the children, and also to escape."

"Shane cleared his throat, "I'm assuming you have shared with us everything you have discovered?"  It sounded like a question, but Anne knew it to be a warning."

"He's too surly to hurt himself.  If he does, we'll feed him to the dogs."

Reviewer's Tip - Packing Your Book, Part 2

Yesterday, we showed you samples of some books that arrived in our office in less than perfect shape.  The US Post Office, UPS, FedEx, etc., can be pretty rough on one poor, lonely book in a plain paper envelope.  Today, we're offering some suggestions on protecting your valuable book and making sure it gets to the reviewer in great shape.  (Photos taken by Lynette Latzko and Ellen Feld)

Wrap the contents so they don't get wet or damaged.  Many people use plastic bags (such as 1 mil poly bags from ULine) too.  They are inexpensive and present a much nicer look than a plastic bag left over from the grocery store.

USe cardboard to keep books stiff. 

Packing your book in a bubble-wrap envelope usually works quite well...

But now always.  This bubble-wrapped book was starting to work its way out of this envelope when it arrived.  Typically, books that have some "sliding room" in the envelope are the ones that tend to destroy the envelopes.  If your book doesn't fit tightly in the envelope, consider folding over the top of the envelope to make the envelope smaller.

This is how Amazon sends us our "Vine" books for review.  We've never had a problem with these books.  They always arrive in perfect condition.  But this may not be a viable solution for the one book author.  So what should you do?

Here's what one author did to protect her book.  A perfect mailer.  Note the delivery confirmation sticker.  Another good idea.

Inside was a perfectly wrapped book.  Our reviewer was delighted to receive a book in pristine condition.

Finally, be sure to include a cover letter and other marketing materials.  This sample shows a professional presentation that gave the important facts of the book without overwhelming the reviewer with a lot of "fluff."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Reviewer's Tip - Packing Your Book, Part 1

Congratulations! Your book has been accepted for review by Joe's Review Site. Before shipping that review copy out, take a moment to prepare the book's package. It will make a big difference in how the book arrives at its destination. We thought we'd show you some of the good, the bad, and the gosh-darn ugly packages that have arrived at Feathered Quill. Hopefully this will give you an idea of how to pack your book. (Photos taken by Lynette Latzko and Ellen Feld)

First, we thought we'd show you samples of books that barely made it to our office:

Yes, the mailman decided to fold this book in half to fit it into a mailbox.  Cardboard works wonders to save your books from getting scrunched.
Here's what happens when you use a plain, non-padded or bubble envelope to mail your book.  This one was trying to escape...
...and this book almost did escape.  Another day in transit and it might not have made it to our office.
This large book was shipped in an even larger box.  It wasn't packed tightly and bounced around.  Shipped UPS, it arrived on a rainy day and was left outside in the rain by UPS.  Luckily, the book wasn't completely destroyed and we were able to salvage it.

Here's another view of that same box - the other side.  Ouch.  It's amazing that the book arrived at all.

Tomorrow we'll show you examples of books that were shipped the right way.  Stay tuned....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Author Interview with Kate Quinn

Today we're excited to talk with Kate Quinn, author of Mistress of Rome.

FQ: - Your debut novel reads so true and realistic - ancient Rome really comes alive in Mistress of Rome. What in your background/education helped you create such a realistic ancient world?

Thanks for the praise! I’ve always adored ancient Rome – my mother had an ancient history degree, so instead of the Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood, I got Alexander and the Gordian Knot, and Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon. I saw Stanley Kubrick’sSpartacus when I was about eight and fell madly in love with Kirk Douglas; I just knew I had to write a book someday about a gladiator. It took a lot of research and reading to really feel my way into ancient Rome – not just the big events of history, but the atmosphere of daily life – but that was a pleasure rather than a chore.

FQ: I understand you wrote Mistress of Rome while a freshman in college. That's amazing. What inspired you to attempt such an undertaking during such a busy & stressful time in a young adult's life?

It seemed symbolic, starting a new book as I was starting a new life. And it gave me a means of escape – I might be three thousand miles from home and know absolutely no one in this brand new city, but I could escape into ancient Rome. I didn’t have a computer, so I used to hole myself up in the university computer lab. It was fairly surreal – vast, cheerless, subterranean, filled with neon lighting and a lot of desperate undergraduates writing papers. You wouldn’t have been too surprised to find Frankenstein on a table down there, waiting to be electrified into life. But I kept plugging away, mostly working all day weekends since classes kept me busy through the week, and somehow at the end of the first semester I had a book.

FQ: Thea is a survivor of Masada. How important is that fact to her character?

It’s the bedrock of her character, in both good and bad ways. On the negative side, she grows up with a whopping case of survivor’s guilt for living on while her family died, and this translates into a bad habit of cutting herself whenever life gets her down. But on the positive side, she acquires a certain mental toughness from dealing with all that guilt and pain. Without that gritty streak, she would never have been able to withstand the bad things life later at her later, like losing the man she loved, and becoming the mistress of a psychopathic Emperor whose idea of a good time was sticking flies on pens. Thea’s background definitely screwed her up, but she is at least functionally screwed up – and absolutely determined to survive.

FQ: Lepida is the sort of character you love to hate. Was it fun to write her parts?

Yes, she was lots of fun. I ended up being quite proud of her – I was certain there was no bigger bitch in all history. We can all instinctively loathe Lepida, because everybody remembers those sugar-sweet backstabbing Mean Girls from our high school years. Lepida is a Mean Girl squared; not one single redeeming quality. I suppose I have a bit of all my fictional characters in me somewhere, but I hope there isn’t anything of Lepida in me except maybe her dress sense (she does have great clothes!) Still, my husband says it makes him nervous that I had it in me to create her.

FQ: Gladiatorial games are quite violent and you don't sugarcoat the fights. Was it a tough decision to write realistic fight scenes rather than censored versions? As a woman writing about a man's game (primarily) was it tough to write the fights?

Fight scenes are always easy for me – I’m afraid I adore violent historical fiction. I read a lot of CS Forester and Bernard Cornwell growing up, so I’m always happy when I have a hero with a sword in hand. What was difficult about writing the Colosseum scenes was the violence against animals. At least the gladiators had a fifty-fifty chance of getting out alive; the poor animals were just rounded up in the arena and slaughtered. I may love a good battle scene in a book but I can’t bear seeing animals get killed, so I skipped over that part of things in Mistress of Rome as much as possible.

FQ: Why did you decide to write about Titus Flavius Domitianus rather than a better-known emperor?

I picked him because he was obscure. There are so many books already about Julius Caesar and Augustus and the better-known Emperors; I didn’t feel I could bring anything new to the table. When I first started plotting out Mistress of Rome I knew I needed an evil Emperor, and my mother and her ancient history degree supplied the names of the biggest baddies. But most of them – Nero, Caligula, Commodus – had already been written about countless times, or featured in movies. I landed on Domitian because he was interesting, and because I had him all to myself. There aren’t too many mentions of Domitian out there in historical fiction, which I like because readers won’t have any preconceptions going in.

FQ: Arius is a brutal, heartless gladiator, or is he? We see his love for Thea . . . what about his cute little three-legged dog? Were gladiators really allowed to have pets and also, was the pup a chance to show that Arius really was a gentle soul forced into fighting?

Arius is less brutal than brutalized. Allowed to grow up normally, he’d have probably been quite a cookie: I can see him as a construction worker coming home tired and happy to an adored wife and kids, and the only sign of his fighting side would be his absolute ruthlessness on the field during weekly football games with his buddies. But he didn’t grow up normal; he had so much misery and abuse that by the time he appears in Mistress of Rome he has nothing left but rage against the world – and a tiny, tiny soft spot that hasn’t quite been killed off. I gave him a dog because I felt I had to do something nice for him, having just torn him away from the love of his life. And I knew, even if he didn’t, that he would someday get Thea back, so I thought that in the intervening years he should have something to love so he didn’t get out of practice. Star gladiators had all kinds of privileges as long as they kept delivering victories in the arena, so the possibility of him keeping a pet was quite reasonable.
Feathered Quill,, thanks for having me!

To learn more about Mistress of Rome, please read our review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The iPad Meets the Children's Book

The iPad Meets the Children's Book

Apps for kids' stories start to proliferate for Apple's newest product

By Karen Springen -- reprinted with permission of Publishers Weekly

Apr8AppsMissSpiderInteriorJUMPAn interior image from Calloway's 'Miss Spider' app.On launch day last Saturday, Apple sold more than 300,000 iPads—and users downloaded more than one million apps and more than 250,000 ebooks from the iBookstore. Parents immediately started snapping up picture book apps from Apple's online store. In fact, children's stories held six of the top 10 paid iPad book-app sales spots as of press time. Typical prices for children's book apps range anywhere from $2.99 for The Cat in the Hat to $9.99 for Miss Spider's Tea Party.

So far the big winners seem to be household names. The current bestselling kid-lit iPad apps are The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss's ABC, Toy Story 2 Read-Along, How to Train Your Dragon, Miss Spider's Tea Party, and The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg. The top 10 freebie book apps also included kid titles: Toy Story Read-Along, Twilight, the Graphic Novel, Lite, Volume 1, and ABC Dinosaurs-iPad Edition. And in the iBookstore, as opposed to the app store, the top five paid children and teens' books were Eclipse, The Lightning Thief, Twilight, Breaking Dawn, and The Berenstain Bears Go to Sunday School.

Early Adopters and Careful Observers

Publishers and app makers are taking widely different approaches to the burgeoning app market, with some instantly jumping on the iPad bandwagon and others waiting to see how many moms and dads let their kids read stories on a $499 device. Some developers are tweaking existing apps, say for the iPhone or iPod Touch, while others are starting from scratch.
Apr8AppsDisneyA screenshot from one of Disney's 'Toy Story' apps.On iPad launch day, Disney introduced its $8.99 Toy Story 2 app, and within the next eight weeks plans to add The Princess and the Frog, Beauty and the Beast,Winnie-the-Pooh, and, in June, a 3D app for Toy Story 3. Apps will boost print book sales rather than cannibalize them, said Jeanne Mosure, senior v-p and group publisher of Disney Publishing Worldwide. "It just makes children more excited about the prospect of reading more and buying more books." By the end of this year, Disney plans to sell apps for about two dozen of its 600 stories available through its Disney Digital Books initiative. Bob Iger, Disney's CEO, greenlighted Disney Publishing's iPad efforts when Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad back on January 27.

Random House publishes the print versions of Dr. Seuss's titles, but app maker Oceanhouse Media licensed the iPad and iPhone rights to the entire collection from Dr. Seuss Enterprises. So far it has launched three apps (The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss's ABC, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas). Within the next few weeks, it will also introduce The Lorax as two separate apps (a book and a game).

Oceanhouse sells games separately because its president, Michel Kripalani, thinks that's what Theodor Geisel would have wanted. "Ted Geisel was all about teaching kids how to read. Every feature we put into this book has to support reading and teaching kids how to read." To wit, Oceanhouse's apps let kids touch an object, such as a hat, and see the word for it float forward. And as the narrator reads, the app highlights the corresponding text. As the number of iPad apps grows, Kripalani believes name recognition will become increasingly important in order to stand out (there are 170,000 apps for the more established iPhone, he noted). Oceanhouse plans to add more bells and whistles to its first three Seuss apps, which run on both the iPhone and the iPad.

Some companies, such as Scholastic, plan to offer iPad apps—but not for week one. "Kids are very comfortable with portable media and devices," said Deborah Forte, president of Scholastic Media. "Eventually this will be a platform that will have a very robust selection of content on it, and we should be there." Still, Forte—who noted that Scholastic has offered multimedia for a quarter century—is not rushing. "We're sort of trying to filter out all the noise and be really consumer-centric," she said. "I'm not quite sure that our demographic will be the biggest users in terms of the launch of the iPad." Will many parents buy iPads for their kids-or share their own? "We do think it's going to take a little bit of time to determine how relevant this platform is going to be for kids," Forte said.

The Power of Free
Apr8AppsICLThe app from the International Children's Digital Library gives readers access to more than 4,000 titles from around the world.As with the iPhone and iPod Touch, paid iPad apps aren't the only game in town-there's free material for kid-lit lovers, too. The app for the eight-year-old International Children's Digital Library, housed at the University of Maryland and largely funded by the National Science Foundation, lets iPad users read (but not download) more than 4,000 books from around the world. More than half are either written in English or have been translated into English.

Kids can also read International Children's Digital Library stories on regular computers, but the iPad is more like a real book, said Allison Druin, director of the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland. "The way children read books is sitting on their bed, sitting with their parents. Laptops are good, but an iPad is going to be even more freeing," she said. "The more that our technologies afford the feeling of what was once only able to be given to us through paper, the more we don't notice what the technology is, and we just care about the content."

The University of Maryland creators took their existing Web site and adapted it for the iPad. When kids rotate their device vertically to "portrait" mode, they see one page of a book. When they turn it horizontally to "landscape" mode, they see two pages. "We encourage kids to read how they're comfortable," said Ben Bederson, associate professor of computer science at the University of Maryland. "iPad is really the first time the International Children's Digital Library can be used with children in their parents' laps." As a result of the iPad's portability and convenience, he said, he projects that kids will spend more time with stories.

The University of Maryland is also enhancing its Story Kit app for the iPad, which lets kids create and share their own stories. Bederson's only critique: the frame around the edge of the screen (why not get rid of it and use the space for bigger children's picture book art?) and its pound-and-a-half weight (vs. the Kindle at 10 ounces).

Turning iPhone Apps Into iPad Apps (and Vice Versa)

Apr8AppsScholasticButtonsScholastic currently offers six apps.Many apps sold on the iPad app store are the same as the apps sold for the iPhone and iPod Touch. With the iPad, though, young readers no longer need to pan in and out to see a whole page. "Everything is basically the same, only the viewing is bigger," said Todd Parr, author of more than 20 titles available as apps for Apple devices, most recently The EARTH Book. "[But] the technology is there to experiment in so many different ways to deliver not just a book," he said.

The iPad gives readers more freedom. "You want people to be able to read it and interact with it on whatever their device of choice is," said Anthony Goff, publisher and director of Hachette Audio and Digital Media, which used ScrollMotion to create Parr's apps. "[But] the bigger and closer to book form and size the digital book is, the nicer it's going to look."

Some publishers have adapted or will adapt their iPhone apps for the iPad. Scholastic plans to enhance for the iPad its six existing iPhone and iPod Touch apps, which include I Spy Spooky Mansion, The 39 Clues Madrigal Maze, and Clifford's BE BIG with Words. "We have always prided ourselves on developing compelling media based on our books for every platform," said Scholastic's Forte. "This is just another platform to be present on."

TOON Books offers iPhone and iPad apps for Art Spiegelman's Jack and the Box and Jeff Smith'sLittle Mouse Gets Ready, designed by Apr8AppsToonBooksTOON Books plans to have its entire list available as iPad and iPhone apps by year's end.iStoryTime, and plans to release the 10 more based on the rest of its list by the end of the year. "We have a duty to make sure our books are offered to kids in every format possible," said Françoise Mouly, editorial director for TOON Books and art director for The New Yorker. Last year the now two-year-old company released its books online, so the iPad is a natural next step, she said. She doesn't want to overdo it, though, with too many glitzy options. "There's a slippery slope, where people start having sound effects and animation," she said. "Then it's a passive experience for the child."

Callaway Arts & Entertainment decided to begin with the book-size device. "The iPad is the full, rich banquet," said Nicholas Callaway, chairman of Callaway Arts & Entertainment, which nine months ago started working with Apple on an app for David Kirk's $9.99 Miss Spider's Tea Party. "It's like the difference between a small TV and IMAX. We decided to launch with the iPad to show [Miss Spider] in its full glory." (In a couple of weeks, Callaway will start selling a separate iPhone app for $6.99.)

The Miss Spider app lets kids do everything from play matching games to color pages filled with black-and-white images. Kids simply touch brushes on the screen. "You can paint so much better on an 8x10 screen than you can on the iPhone-size screen," said Callaway. Soon Callaway plans to let kids save their paintings in iPhoto and send them to their grandmothers—or to Kirk.

Callaway is also working on an app for The English Roses, its tween girls' series with Madonna. And in the fourth quarter of 2010, Callaway is debuting Dreamers, a new series by David Kirk, as an iPad app rather than as a print book. As it is doing with Miss Spider, Callaway plans to release about oneDreamers title per month. At some point, the apps—like movie DVDs—will include "bonus features" that would go "way beyond the back-jacket flaps," according to Callaway. "Being able to do video footage of our authors and creators is the kind of thing we are envisioning for our apps."

Unlike e-readers, which typically reproduce a traditional book experience on an electronic screen, these apps can offer animation, music, and many interactive features. "It's a whole different content creation mechanism," said Callaway.

Big players like ScrollMotion are creating new apps, but as was true with the iPhone, smaller players can—and will—jump in, too. Though it's not always easy. For example, because the iPad lacks a built-in camera, some apps require separate computer use to work. The creators of the A Story Before Bed storytelling service need to get grandparents to download the app—and then record video of themselves reading books for their grandkids on a regular computer. Only then can the grandkids use the app to see Grandma reading stories via their iPad.

In the end, the large number of designers bringing more stories to more people may be good news for the publishing industry. After all, as Apple has shown, Americans seem to have an insatiate app-etite.