Put Down Your E-Reader: This Book Is Better In Print
Most people who read a lot have gotten used to reading on a screen, whether it’s a laptop, a tablet or an e-reader. Some say they prefer it to the experience of reading a heavy, awkward print version of the book. But every now and then, a book comes along that just seems to insist on being physical — something about it simply can’t be transferred to the screen.
Gillian Cross’ new retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey is aimed at kids 8 and up, and like many children’s books, it’s brightly colored and beautifully illustrated. But the artwork in this book — illustrated by Neil Packer — seems sophisticated for a kids’ book. These are not your standard depictions of gods and goddesses with chiseled features in flowing gowns. The images are stylized, multilayered, richly colored and a little edgy. It seems like a book that might appeal to adults as well as children — a perfect book perhaps to read with a child. Would a book like this ever make sense as an e-book?
“We feel that the book is a nearly perfect technology as it is, and that is why it’s been around for so long,” says Karen Lotz, president and publisher of Candlewick Press — the publishing house that released The Odyssey in the U.S. Candlewick specializes in children’s books, and like all publishing companies, it now releases books in both electronic and traditional book form. But Lotz says some books — The Odyssey among them — seem destined for print. That decision, she says, is made at the beginning of the publication process.
“If you’re thinking about a book in its early stages, you’re almost always imagining what it’s going to be like and what it’s going to feel like,” Lotz explains. “And I think we’re coming into a time where we as publishers do that digitally as well. We think about something in a digital form. But if it’s going to insist on being physical, it means it’s going to be lavish, beautiful, tactile, something to linger over.”