The New York Times reports that the picture book is dying, attributing it to the recession and parents eager to graduate their kids into chapter books. The piece is a bit messy, has a linkbait headline, and one of the key sources says she was misquoted—but the intriguing bit to us was the obvious answer to the demise was ignored: the destruction of the production and distribution channel. How people make, find, and read stories—with or without pictures—is rapidly becoming digital and networked. Of course “picture books” and the stores that sell them are declining. So is the New York Times. But art + story combos are thriving online.
Naturally, we were fired up. And naturally, we took to Twitter. Here’s what we said:
Earlier, we quipped that it was silly given, just on our tiny site, over 400,000 “picture books” were published in one year.
The bigger picture is that stories, as anyone in publishing knows, are becoming liquid. Their forms are changing.
From print-on-demand, iPads and iPhones, QR codes…how we tell and interact with narrative is more contextual and situational.
Our own experiments suggest that storytelling is surging, but so are the containers and form factors.
It’s not that “picture books” are dead. Their production and distribution model is dead. Just like music, news, films, etc.
Art-inspired stories thrive because they feed both sides of our brain. They pair the rigor or language with the nuances of art.
And the best part? The rejigging of form and function reveals that these stories aren’t just for kids. (Why should they be?)
Tween, teens, and adults love them too. Making, telling, and sharing stories—visual or otherwise—is instinctual and tribal.
Put another way: the hardware is becoming obsolete, but the software is going viral.
Awesome photo by aperturismo
We occasionally use Twitter for rants or essays: