Monday, June 21, 2010

The Future: It's What's for Dinner.

I was shown a Dr. Seuss book on the iPad and had to wonder at the possibilities. As an illustrator I'm attempting to prepare for this brave new world by learning some animation techniques. As things become more digital do you think that this will be,
A) Incredibly useful
B) Kinda handy
C) A waste of time, static images will still be the norm
(A), and sooner than anyone thinks.

The future is not just ahead of us, it's sitting on top of us. It's sneaking up behind us. It's the milk in your cereal and the monster under your bed. The future is here, but soon you will not be here! The future leaves no survivors! All your worst nightmares are about to come true! The future is here for your SOULS!


ae said...

You sound like HAL, EA.

christine tripp said...

As an illustrator I would not recommend animation courses as much as I would learning to work digitally on a tablet, save a lot of pennies and splurg on a Cintiq, the rolls royce of ditigal illustration tools:)
Using a tablet and painter (or photoshop, though painter is far more REAL a medium) you will be ready for the brave new illustration future. In fact, it's basically here, as more and more I get requests for submitting work digitally. (saves the pub money too, no large original art to be sent for scanning.... though I personally think the illustrator should be getting paid more for this extra work:(
More books have already been published using digital media, more then anyone would guess as the medium has gone from the very digital looking, pixilated cartoonish look to art that is exactly like a hand to paper watercolour work, or thick acrylic on canvas. Can't tell which is which anymore.
The artists will always be the same, it's just the tools that keep changing:)

Editorial Anonymous said...

Whoops, I meant the dread pirate Roberts. The dread pirate Roberts is here for your souls.

My Discworld said...

Very interesting concept. Great question from the reader.

My Discworld said...

Great concept and great treatment of the thought. Thanks for sharing this idea!

Anonymous said...

Where's Andre the Giant when you need him?

Michael Grant said...

Let's see, it would be just about three years ago now that I started sending crazy person letters and writing crazy person blog posts about the "enhanced book." Now Simon is actually using that exact phrase.

Enhanced e-books are a lifeline to a dying publishing industry. They should be leaping on it.

Here's why: self-publishing will be the mainstream very soon. Discounters are pushing down prices on dead-tree books, e-books will push prices down even further until the dead-tree book makes less and less sense economically. There is no way to sustain a business model that involves writer-publisher-printer-shipper-warehouser-distributor-retailer when it competes against a model that involves only writer-publisher-e-tailer.

But that's not the end of legacy publishing's problems. The efforts to peg the e-book price at 9.99 will fail pretty quickly. In part that pricing structure will be killed by established authors going self-pubbed with iBooks or Amazon. The longer the legacy publishers try to hold the e-book price at 9.99 -- which is nothing but an attempt to prop up the dead-tree model -- the more attractive ebook self-publishing becomes. After all, authors don't really need publishers to publish e-books. We can do that all by ourselves and undercut that 9.99 pretty dramatically. Again, it's simple: a model that involves writer-etailer is simpler and more efficient than one that inserts publisher in there.

So Costco and e-books cut the price of dead tree books, and self-publishing cuts the price of e-books, and what's left for the legacy publisher to do?

Enhanced e-books. Because enhanced e-books are a vastly complicated bit of business for a self-published writer to pull off. Enhanced e-books leverage the strengths of the legacy publishers in acquiring rights to, or creating, video, music, pix, etc...

For e very crude, very stick-figure, for illustration purposes only example:

Lindsey Carmichael said...

Just when I thought you couldn't be any cooler, you pull out The Princess Bride.

Anonymous said...

Beware the ROUSes.

Ebony McKenna. said...

I got the Dread Pirate Roberts reference. I heart you.

Amanda J. said...

Hehe. <3 Princess Bride wonderful way to reference it. :)

Haste yee back ;-) said...

christine... I write and illustrate. As of Feb this year I switched over to digital via Painter 11 and the Wacom Intuos 4... learning the program is my bug-a-boo, but I'm sticking with it. I have my eye on the Cintiq 21, (currently out of stock), do you have one, if so, how do you like it?
What settings do publishers generally use, ppi and size dimensions? I've not uploaded anything digitally except to web, which only requires 72 ppi... exciting times as Michael Grant points out with self-publishing and all the other opportunities present.

EA... do you free-lance Edit or does that strike you as an anathema! Is there a list or organization composed of qualified editors either on a consulting or free lance basis? If not, should be, to cover the e mania onslaught! Digitality will eventually kill copyright, so you're still gonna need a hybrid, agent/attorney staying atop legal issues and an ever changing landscape of rights nationally and internationally.

Painter 11 has very basic animation capabilities, but good enough for now providing a bit of enhancement to e books.

My digital attempts... thus far - (first three pics)

Haste yee back ;-)

Jimmer said...

Oh my god. I can see all hell is going to break loose (IS breaking loose!) I think I'll make myself a cup of tea.

shelley said...

I remember back in the late 1980's, Upper and Lower Case (trade publication) devoted a whole issue to the topic of, well basically, "Computers. Flash in the pan or wave of the future." And there were a few wistfully writing/wishing that this new technology wasn't going to completely change the industry.

Sabbatical Wife said...

I'm afraid I'm a luddite at heart, but I just can't imagine sitting down at bedtime with my 3 year old twins and an iPad. Or, worse, letting the little sticky-fingered book lovers curl up on the floor with my iPad to "browse" through their favorite picture books. Animated or not. Please, please, please, keep publishing a few of the old fashioned kind of kids' books that can be chewed on, pored over and loved. (Although I suppose the back-lit screen will make reading under the covers a no-brainer).

christine tripp said...

No, sadly I do not own a Cintiq... yet! I have cursed myself for not moving forward faster. I have had a number of those Scholastic "big book" projects (I think the idea for these huge pic books is so a teacher can read it to a class and the little guys can see the pictures from the backrows, without stampeding over each other to get to the front) The Cintiqu, along with using painter, not photoshop, would have elminated packaging these over sized paintings and the costs incured.
Drawing to any size, then ftp the work.
While I bemoan progress in most area's of life, it is what it is and it's the adults, not the children that don't like the idea of cuddling with a good ipad story together. Kids lives are full of technology, they don't see this as foreign. What I will miss when all books go digital is the passing down of family novels. I have so many of my mothers and grandmothers books, with names and ages written on the inside pages. From back in the day when owning a book was a rare privilage and usually only given as gifts, for birthdays or holidays.

Sarah Laurenson said...

A friend of mine does the magic part with making the illustrations move and all. No special knowledge required by the illustrator, but you do need to hire someone to do the magic.

And yes - it's right around the corner and that corner is closer than you'd think.

Legendary Sidekick said...

I'm with Sabbatical. When it's time to read a bedtime story to my 2-year-old, the last thing I want to do is have her staring at a screen.

I won't knock the validity of e-readers for teens, twenty-somethings, and new authors looking to self-publish their work. But I'm not so sure picture books will be replaced by animated e-books. (At least not for parents in their 30s.) It warms my heart to see my 2-year-old taking a book off her shelf and flipping through it, either just for the pictures or "reading" stories she's committed to memory. I don't think it would do anything for me to see her browsing for files on an iPad.

Of course, the market may prove me wrong.

min said...

I just bought an e-book for my ipad, by Steve Spangler. I almost bought the actual paper book that very day, but read next to it, "also available as an enhanced book!" I thought I'd try it as it could be fun with the kids.

Know what? They each flipped quickly to the 15 or so video clips inside the ebook and then proclaimed the book "read." Done. No reading the words that followed each science experiment. Evah! Makes me worried for actual words. :(

David Macinnis Gill said...

Self-publishing via ebooks has been around for several years, and despite all the stories of how successful it is, the concept hasn't really taken off. That's because, I believe, that a publisher fulfills more roles than just printing books, and most writers can't duplicate those roles without spending a great deal of cash up front. Personally, I can't imagine publishing a book without a skilled editor involved.

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