Children’s book publishing and digital transition: 3 questions for Térence Mosca
As a digital content development consultant, every year Térence Mosca leads the From Paper to Screen conferences at the Montreuil Children’s Book Fair (France).
What do you think about the digital transition in the children’s book publishing industry?
When iPads came around, the world of children’s book publishing was very interested in this new format. Because of the investment required for these developments, the first to embark on the creation of applications were the most important publishers but also a few pure players. This market is very competitive, especially due to the presence of video game professionals, sales prices are quite low and production budgets are increasing, so the development of applications by children’s book publishers is now decreasing. Instead, publishers are looking for an open format with ePub 3 [format that allows for the inclusion of sounds, videos and more and more animations and interactions in digital books]. Through the ePub, publishers are trying to build a cost-effective digital ecosystem that could finance the creation. However, we can still see some very innovative projects emerging in the field of applications. For instance the Wuwu application (Step In Books, 2015), a publishing project launched by a Danish video game developer, which won the Ragazzi Digital Award at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.
Could co-production with professionals from other sectors be a solution?
The first issue is of a technical nature because we are talking about designing but also programming an application, and this is not a publisher’s job. The publishing market is structured around authors and illustrators who are interested in these new formats but who need to collaborate with other trades: developers, designers, musicians... in order to produce these contents. Publishers may not be able to initiate these projects, but they are very interested in participating in their development. In this context, the training of authors and illustrators is at the heart of the Transbook project in order for them to understand these new medias.
Do you think that the actions of the Transbook project are adapted to the concern of professionals?
I think they are. We are still in a nascent market that is developing. So there are two things that are key in understanding and developing this market: understanding and analyzing what is happening elsewhere, internationally, because digital media is a global phenomenon, and on this point, Transbook allows French publishers and professionals to be at the forefront of what is being done in other countries. But the project is also very useful on a second aspect: when we talk about digital, we speak not only of books, we are very quickly connected with fields like transmedia, audiovisual, video games... Transbook thus makes it possible to establish a connection between French publishers and other sectors.