At our Queensland SCBWI meeting a couple of weeks week ago in Borders, we talked about stories available for radio and new media. One of our local Brisbane radio stations, 99.7FM, is on the constant look out for 'books that can be read on air during programs for young children' - yet as we know, picture books, which are the main fodder for early age groups, replace words with illustrations. So there aren't many modern 'traditional books' that can be used.
As authors and where practical, perhaps more of us should re-write our books specifically for radio, podcasting and mobile phones, reinstating all those delicious descriptions that we so diligently removed when editing. Do we then give the 'new version' the same title as for that which was printed? Have we retained the rights to enable us to separately sell audio-friendly derivatives?
Some companies are already taking advantage of new technology and publishing downloadable picture books for iPhones and other devices with similar visual displays that can be used for pacifying children or shared reading. How many of the present generation of picture books have illustrations, or portions, simple enough to be reduced to such display areas? And those of us who illustrate, should we now only produce artwork that we know will be able to have appropriate elements scanned for the 'new small screen'?
The internet providers of such downloadable stories are already paying royalties for those that they use, though the originators will not make fortunes from sales through these companies, for marketing is in its infancy. But the businesses are doing the groundwork that the 'big boys' are watching, learning from and developing, ready to pounce. How long before Apple, Sony and Google take over, and what will happen then? Check out http://ikidsplay.com
They will be successful, plus others of their ilk.
Could publishers of traditional books soon only select mss that can be illustrated and easily converted to 'phone-friendly' format? Before long, maybe we will all be 'writing and illustrating for the phone', and print books and their revenue will be an occasional spin-off bonus. Negotiating rights is getting more and more complex for publishers, agents and creators.
Coordinator SCBWI Queensland