Monday night’s Sandra Boynton book event at the Barnes & Noble on Manhattan’s Upper East Side looked like a pretty normal book signing—normal for Boynton, the bestselling children’s book author, anyway. Toddlers and slightly older kids, some dressed in pajamas, crammed into the event space, shepherded in by college students wearing pajama pants and Boynton Moo Media t-shirts. And the first five minutes of the event were what you’d expect, pretty much, with Boynton defending printed books (“There is nothing more magical than a book”) before launching into a reading of one of her biggest bestsellers, The Going to Bed Book, originally published by Simon & Schuster in 1982. Some kids sat rapt, chins in their hands, while others mouthed the words along with Boynton, and a couple more seemed preoccupied by Cheerios and other distractions. Boynton finished the book—“The moon is high. The sea is deep. They rock and rock and rock to sleep”—and that’s when the normal book signing took a turn.
Boynton introduced the man sitting next to her, British Invasion singer Billy J. Kramer (who was wearing pajamas), as well as the piano player just to the left of the stage where she and Kramer were sitting. Then the show began. Kramer read the text of The Going to Bed Book as Boynton demonstrated the book’s companion app on a NookColor tablet, which was projected onto a large screen behind them, while the pianist played some background music. The app, created by Loud Crow Interactive, lets users move the book’s characters down the stairs to the bathtub, turn the water on, hang up their towels, get some exercise, and do other interactive activities before heading off to la-la land. Boynton slid her finger across the screen and showed attendees what the app could do.
The event was ostensibly doubling as the debut of a new technology that lets an author sign an e-reader; Boynton was available to autograph people’s Going to Bed Book on their Nooks. But most attendees in line to meet Boynton after the reading were clutching well-worn board books, not leather-bound electronic reading devices, and while Boynton did get to demo the new technology, her ink pen seemed to be getting a lot more use.