A Little Publishing Story
Earlier this week my daughter showed me a recent school project. Her class was doing a unit on Leadership. The assignment involved retelling the life-story of a famous leader in the child’s own words and in the format of a Children’s picture book.
When it came time for my daughter to show me her work, she didn’t reach for a book in her school bag. Instead, she grabbed an iPad and opened up her iBook.
For this assignment, the kids had used Apple’s new iBooks Author programme to create little electronic books. They drew the artwork by hand, then scanned it and combined the images with their text in iBooks Author. It was a lot of fun to see my daughter’s creative hard work displayed in this format.
So, here was my daughter using the same software that Apple offers and recommends for publishers looking to sell eBooks on their online marketplace, iBookstore. In fact, it would only take a few simple steps for her to offer this book as a free download on the iBookstore or even charge a price and become her own publishing house!
Meanwhile, I, the so-called real writer in the family, having published newspaper, magazine and journal articles, having blogged for over ten years, having very nearly signed an old-school book contract, I had nothing to offer in the iBookstore marketplace.
Back when I was my daughter’s age. Self-publishing a book, starting a radio station, or distributing your own music was unheard of. Now, it’s something you can create in a day at a modest cost. You don’t need to be rich, well-connected, or be discovered by an industry gatekeeper.
The best most of us could hope for was to mimic the professional approach in our own small way; cheaply printing zones, selling independent music on tape, or blagging our way onto community radio.
In this digital age, the situation is totally different. The costs involved (what economists call the barriers to entry) have come down so much. Apple don’t even charge for iBooks Author, which is outrageous when you consider what similarly featured Desktop Publishing and Word Processing packages cost just a few years ago. Today we can create, in our homes, with the same tools the “pros” use.
If there’s one advantage kids in my daughter’s generation have over us it’s this. They won’t grow up with the idea that publishing depends on wealth or big business. They simply see it as a given that you make excellent work and share it with a global marketplace at the click of a button.
The rest of us are left trying to believe this is true and that the world changed so radically in our own lifetime.