Kids' publishers face new challenges

<p>Exciting new creative opportunities for children&#39;s authors and publishers to work digitally were heralded at the Booktrust seminar &quot;Children&#39;s Bookfutures&quot; yesterday, as LBF delegates caught their first glimpse of how picture book applications can work on the iPad. </p><p>However, publishers were warned that their role will change as the space between author and reader grows narrower.</p><p>Author Naomi Alderman launched The Winter House, an <a href="www.thewinterhouse.co.uk" target="_blank">online collaboration</a> with developer Jey Biddulph, which combines the interactivity of the computer game with a single linear narrative. &quot;We&#39;re inventing new forms and coming up with new ways to tell stories. If you embrace it, there is something very exciting you can do,&quot; she said.</p><p>But Alderman warned that there was now no &quot;absolute necessity&quot; for the existence of a publisher in order for a writer simply to get their words out to readers. However a new role is emerging, she said: &quot;Publishers can say to authors, &quot;We have fantastic ideas, we can put you together with brilliant collaborators.&quot;</p><p>Neal Hoskins, m.d. of indie publisher Winged Chariot, introduced his interactive picture-book application, The Birthday, in which young readers play a part in the story by helping a mouse post various invitations to his party.</p><p>&quot;I have seen publishers try to squash work into the [digital screen] frame. We are not interested in that, we thought: &#39;How can you bring out the life of the stories?&#39;&quot; he said. The fact that children touch the screen on an iPhone or iPad directly creates a new intimacy with the devices, he added.</p><p>Templar m.d. Amanda Wood said there was an opportunity to find a way to use digital &quot;to deliver something different, something which still has at its core the fundamental value of a reading experience and using your imagination.&quot; But, she added, the cost of experimentation was &quot;an issue&quot; if publishers were trying to do things of high quality. </p>