'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 15 November 2013

Showcase Festival: Views on Picture Book Apps at the National Library


Last night here in Canberra saw the wrap-up of a truly sensational Showcase Festival: the second annual Festival of Australian Children's Literature, created and run by Belle Alderman, Emeritus Professor of Children's Literature at the University odf Canberra and her sensational team, including Sara Rapp who curated the Bob Graham illustration exhibition at Civic Library.

The afternoon began with a book signing in the National Library Foyer with picture book superstar Nick Bland, seen here with Rosemary Thomas, entries coordinator for the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year awards. Nick was VERY busy!

We then convened to a conference room for the View on Picture Book Apps event, introduced by Belle Alderman ...

And featuring Omnibus publisher Dyan Blacklock and Nick Bland ...

Along with Mark McLeod ... who opened proceedings and set the tone for the picture book app discussion with some fascinating statistics on reading, children's book sales and Australian purchasing/book devouring habits.

The trio then spoke of their own views and experiences with apps, with Nick revealing why he chose to move into the PB app arena with his company Wheelbarrow, and Dyan talking of the health concerns surrounding extended play on devices such as iPads, both in terms of inertia but also in regard to radiation exposure, particularly in the very young.

Dyan also said the picture book app section on iTunes was her equivalent of the slush pile, with endless badly-written, designed, edited and illustrated books cluttering the few productions that were even worth screen-swiping.

Nick then spoke about app creation processes, and the new Shaun Tan app for his book Rules of Summer, which has become the highest-selling book on the Australian app store.

Mark discussed the fact that we don't need to panic--hard copy books aren't going anywhere, that we are only just experimenting with electronic reading in its various forms, and that it's just the way we read that will change--not only in terms of what literal form we read in, but in terms of the way we visually scan, mentally process and emotionally harness written works.

Questions and comments from the audience included the 'delete' (ie; throw away) factor in regard to books read via electronic platforms, the repeat-read issue, what contributors are required for app creation, and one librarian mentioned a push by some librarians to digitisein favour of hard copy books.

This event was a fine ending to a superb Showcase Festival, featuring a truly impressive line up of presenters, facilitators and talent. Biggest congratulations to Belle and her team, who already have an exciting 2014 in the planning. I can't wait to see what they have up their sleeve. It's a thrill to see the children's book industry opening up, discussing and sharing its direction in our Nation's Capital. I hope you can join in the fun next year.

- Tania McCartney

Thanks to Leanne Barrett, CBCA President ACT, for providing some of these photos.