Less Is More in Kids’ Apps

children's apps publishing BolognaRagazziThe two book apps recognized by this year’s BolognaRagazzi Digital Prize may point the way forward for storytelling in the format.

According to digital children’s content specialist Sandy McDowell, a shift may now be underway “toward nonlinear narrative experimentation and away from gratuitous use of digital features like flashy animation.”

While there’s been some debate about just how enthusiastic kids are for ebooks and book apps, the latest research makes it clear they aren’t ready to leave print behind.

That being so, children’s authors and publishers may find a more restrained digital approach pays off better than souping up the e-reading experience with features found in games and other multimedia.

“When app developers fill in too many gaps,” McDowell cautions, “readers lose the chance to use their imaginations and to delight themselves.”

Much more.

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Amazon Publishing Expands Apace (PW)
Still growing steadily after the exit last year of head Larry Kirshbaum, Amazon Publishing is on track to publish 1,200 original titles this year across more than a dozen imprints. It’s also branching out from fiction to publish more translated and nonfiction content.

Amazon’s Global Hurdles (Re/code)
One analyst frames what he sees as the challenges Amazon faces to grow internationally this way: “Whereas in the past, Amazon was able to differentiate solely on the basis of its massive online selection and low prices, its differentiation going forward increasingly depends on getting very close to customers, and only its scale in the U.S. enables the kinds of innovations it’s deploying here.”

Authors See Upsides to Digital-First (The Bookseller)
Being able to build momentum through serialization and respond to readers’ feedback are two of several reasons authors cite as advantages of digital-first publication. At the same time, recent research suggests print still holds a number of benefits all its own.

iPhones to Support iBooks Author Titles (9to5 Mac)
Version 8.4 of Apple’s iOS operating system reportedly allows textbooks created on the iBooks Author platform to be read on the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. iOS 8.4 also includes a digital audiobook streaming section inside the iBooks app.

Digital Publishing Growing in China (Pub Perspectives)
The founder of a leading digital publishing technology company says the sector is growing 40% in China every year. And even though ebooks make up only a sliver of the estimated $40 billion industry, “most of the publishers in China are positive about the future.”

Data Permeating Education (NYT)
The increasing focus on standardized test scores in K–12 classrooms that has accompanied the fraught introduction of Common Core standards in recent years is expanding to include a litany of other areas in education as well. Some of them might surprise you.

UK Weighs National Library Ebook Initiative (Guardian)
The unexpectedly decisive Conservative victory in the UK last week pushes a number of policy questions to the fore, among them whether the national library ebook lending platform a government-commissioned study recommended late last year, which Conservative leaders reportedly backed at the time, will be adopted.

ICYMI: “Digital Is Not Going to Eat the World” (DBW)
That’s according to Peter Hudson, Co-founder and CEO of BitLit, a print and ebook bundling startup that recently inked a deal with Macmillan. Here Hudson explains why models that work within the hybrid market rather than seek to explode it appear to be gaining traction. (And here’s a different point of view, which reckons the current print-digital balance is nothing if not temporary.)


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