Tuesday, June 22, 2010

An Open Letter to Children's Publishing

*Feel free to repost*
Published in Publishers Weekly.

Dear Children's Book Publishing Industry,

As I read PW's article, "An Impassioned Plea for Picture Books" by Judith Rosen, reporting on Ken Geist's plea for picture books at the NECBA meeting, I had a few thoughts.

As the article notes, most picture book print runs which were previously 20,000, now hover at 6,000. What I see as a reviewer of board books is an overwhelming number of picture books being published. So much mediocrity is being churned quickly through the presses, with the hope of one bestseller being found. Smaller runs support this effort to throw a multitude of stories into the pot while watching to see if one bubbles to the surface.

My challenge to you is to print fewer books. Dedicate and determine to publish only the very best, and then show us that you believe in that picture book with a larger print run and your full marketing dollars directly supporting it. Publishers, quiet the voices so that we might find and hear the book you believe in, the book that will touch parent and child, and foster readers for life.

As a corollary, I have to say that, yes, the picture book may create the lifelong reader, but even more likely, the board book will. A high quality, literary novelty or board book is often the child's first encounter with literature. In your pursuit this year to raise the profile of the picture book, don't forget the first books. Here is the reason Joan Holub and I continue to support readertotz. Board books are the roots of picture books. Let them be nourished as well.

Thank you for all you do for our children and literacy, publishers. Now show us your best.


Lorie Ann Grover, author and illustrator


Martha Brockenbrough said...

I think this is really interesting, Lorie Ann, especially in light of the discussions people have on Twitter about paying agents more, or perhaps going to a no-advance/higher profit-share model. It's a tough industry and to survive, we face some interesting changes.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Definitely, Martha. I do like the no-advance/higher profit-share concept. Yep.

Anonymous said...

very nice blog~~......................................................................

Joan Holub said...

Great article! You raise some interesting points, Lorie Ann.

Printing more copies of fewer titles--I wonder how this will be affected by the ebook revolution, which will allow for limitless titles and to be made available in limitless quantities electronically. That will mean more titles, not necessarily more good titles. But lowered expenses might make it easier for publishers to take a chance on an unusual book they might not have been able to publish otherwise.

Very interesting, Martha! Not sure I could survive w/o an advance. I need something to eat as I'm working. But as you say, it's a tough industry and survival will necessitate some changes on all sides. A wild ride ahead!

Little Willow said...

Kudos, Lorie Ann.