Thursday, October 27, 2011

Still Worried About E-Books?

Author Alexis O'Neill
I recently attended a ‘Breakfast with the Authors’ event sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Education Office.  A dozen authors and illustrators as well as a panel of experts were on hand, trying to answer what role books are going to play in the electronic age.

The general consensus was that there will always be physical books but that the process of presenting them will become different. People are adaptable and can embrace an infinite variety of media, though some of us may be reluctant to see this change in publishing!   An opinion was expressed that actually children’s books, poetry books and novels will be the least affected by electronic publishing. Non-fiction is the most likely to thrive in an e-book format--especially text-books and travel books. (I do like the idea of not having to lug books around when traveling!)   The reading of digital non-fiction books is a also a vastly different experience than the reading of a physical non-fiction book since it’s possible to enhance the images, provide definitions on demand and link to other sources, etc.  Text books could conceivably become exclusively digital within the next ten years. (That would be an improvement on the backpacks full of books kids have to carry around!)

One of the points I was most interested in (and concerned about) was about illustrated picture books.  They may be greatly affected, as it is possible that publishers will choose illustrators whose work will best translate to electronic format--illustrations with sharp edges or a cartoon-like look.  Could this limit the wonderful variety of images we see in physical books?   High resolution illustrations will be the ones that translate best to e-books, but hi-res work is more expensive to produce.  So publishers may be very careful about which and how many images are used in a book. 

A quote I liked, from Greg Trine:  'As long as there are kids learning to read, teachers will demand physical books.  What's important for writers is not to be threatened by e-books; what's important is always the same -- character, story and voice.'

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Big Draw Has Come to Los Angeles

October is half over but I just learned about a fun celebration of drawing -- Big Draw L.A.   This is a month-long initiative to get the people of Los Angeles participating in art projects, by providing fun opportunities to be creative.  It’s also a way to communicate and interact with others.

Drawing, after all, helps us to see, think, invent, communicate and just play!

The L.A. event  is sponsored by Ryman Arts—a free program that teaches classical drawing and painting to talented  and motivated high school  students in southern California.  They were inspired by a very popular Big Draw event in London which was sponsored by the Campaign for Drawing.  The Campaign for Drawing was created by the Guild of St. George, a small charity founded by artist, writer and educator John Ruskin in 1871 to assist in the education of artists. A lovely chain of events!  Now there are Big Draw events in countries around the world.

Ryman Arts launched the L.A. event last year with 30 venues.  This year there are over 55. The London event has a head start of 10 years and this year they have over 1000 events scheduled.  Hopefully the Los Angeles Big Draw will be even bigger next year—as well as embracing the philosophy of the Campaign for Drawing.  Their long-term ambition is to change the way educators (and everyone else) thinks about drawing.  Since the trend now is to eliminate art classes in our schools this is a truly worthy pursuit.  The Campaign for Drawing group  believe that drawing is fundamental  for  the education  of students, and that drawing is useful  in all walks of life---a basic skill. Their hope is actually to erase the phrase “I can’t draw” from our vocabularies!

There is still time to join the fun!  Check out the Big Draw LA website……