Idea to children’s eBook/interactive for Ipad

The Idea

I sent out word that I was looking for an illustrator for Children’s eBook. Illustrators are harder to find that I thought. After speaking with several of my family members and friends, I sent a bid for Illustrator for Children’s eBook to Elance, what is now Upwork now. The description indicated that self published author has written a children’s book about a cute cocker spaniel dog.   The story line is about a little kid is looking for the dog in various places of the house.

I received at least a dozen proposals; some even came with samples without even asking. There were some awesome illustrations that blew me away. I finalized the proposals down to two companies.

I reviewed my requirements with the Illustrator’s company: simple eBook on Ipad App, cartoony, colorful, and not too complex, and made for children ages 3-7.  20 page children’s e-book and the images needed will be featuring the cocker spaniel in living rooms and indoor spaces.

I selected the company that drew animal figures before. I loved their color schemes that they chose for one of the additional samples that they sent me to review.

The company had different price ranges for different drawings.    I asked for an example of a drawing in the lower price range and also the higher price range. The prices were linked to the time needed for drawing the image. After an agreement, we, the illustrator and I got to work, going through a project manager

I had encountered some problems that I didn’t think about at all with children’s eBook publishing. Naively, I thought I wrote the story and someone just dew on the other end, even if this was going to be a self published children’s eBook.

There are many aspects to a digital illustration book.   Here are few that I encountered.

Getting down to work: Problems and Decisions

In working with the illustrator, there were more questions to be answered.  There were 3 main issues that we encountered based on my story needs:

  1. Portrait or Landscape

Should the children’s eBook be in portrait or landscape?

I didn’t know what the difference was at the time.

The illustrator company told me that they preferred landscape.  They wanted to do a kindle format 16 x9.   During my research, I reviewed free samples on many children’s eBooks.  I had noted that some of the traditional children’s books were in portrait mode, however if it had big pictures it seemed the book were in landscape mode.

Good problem solving skills require Good knowledge. Good knowledge requires good research.

I talked to a techy friend who also reviewed some of the portrait and landscape. I purchased a few children’s eBooks books for Kindle and the Ipad to get the full experience.  We realized that Ipad and Amazon has 2 different reader experience.

At the time of the book, the Ipad screen (tested with I pad 4) had 4:3 aspect ratio which was different ratio from the kindle. My primary target device was the Ipad and then the Kindle.

In some of the children’s eBook we tested, it revealed that

-In portrait mode the height was compromised.

-In landscape mode, the width was compromised.

-In some of the eBooks, the eBook cover looked like it was in portrait but as you turn the pages, they looked like they were in landscape.

-It seemed like some of the books went with more of squarish photo and was letter boxed on the sides for Ipad.  A square photo is a compromise for people who wanted to look it at in landscape and portrait mode.

The way my friend explained about the portrait and landscape differences.  “In portrait, I see the picture with distance capture.   You get more of a distance in portrait; you get more space with the portrait photo.  In landscape, you can put more things landscape.  In landscape, I see the full picture

Essentially, what they were saying was that you can fit more things on the landscape screen, like a movie in landscape.  You can’t fit more things horizontally because there is not much room.

The result: landscape image at 300dpi at a 2048×1536 resolution.  This will allow the image to fill the screen of the retina iPad, and the new iPad Airs have a dpi of 264

  1.  File format: Vector or not vector

I did more research on children’s eBooks that were published in both vector and non-vector.

One feature I really liked about vector images was that the photos dynamically resized itself.  Non-vector images did not do that.

The non-vector images had a different appeal to my eyes. The books that I liked were the custom art hand drawn ones.

I sent a few examples to the illustrator to give them an idea of what type of non-vector illustration that I would like to see in my children’s eBook.

  1.  Fixed layout versus non-fixed layout

Again my techy friend helped out with the explaining.  Fixed lay out – “The picture is going to be 800 pixels no matter what. The image will size the screen the best way it can. Fixed layout- does not change.  The photos will fill up the screen without loosing quality. It doesn’t reflow depending on the size of the device.”

For example.

Aan image Ipad is same Image on Mac pro as same Image on wide screen.

The quality is still rich.

There were so many device sizes (different generations of Kindles and Ipads) and it was hard to make it look perfect on all the device sizes.

I still had a problem.  The eBook publisher that I was going through to publish only did fixed lay out for the Ibook. They didn’t do children’s eBook for the kindle.  I had more questions for the publisher about the layout. The publisher was not totally answering my questions.  The published told me to look at a few samples that they published.

My friend told me that I should just use the iBook’s author app.  What?  Yes, he convinced me to hire him to do the IBook’s author instead of going with the publisher since my friend had a better grasp of the Ipad technology.

  1.  Text for the story

The illustrator company suggested having final text ready before the illustration starts.  This allows them space needed to position the text in the picture.  I was totally done with my text and proof read by an editor.  I was trying to capture both the iPad and Windows readers so I wanted to make it as text friendly as possible to both audiences.

  1.  Animate the characters/interactive book

At the time of the development of the book, I learned that Kindle didn’t support children’s interactive book.  I told the illustrator that it would be way cooler that if I did the animation sounds with my techy friend, which I did.