Dear Children's Book Publishing Industry,
As I read PW's article, "An Impassioned Plea for Picture Books" by Judith Rosen (Children's Bookshelf, June 17), reporting on Ken Geist's plea for picture books at the NECBA meeting, I had a few thoughts.
As the article notes, most picture book print runs which were previously 20,000, now hover at 6,000. What I see as a reviewer of board books is an overwhelming number of picture books being published. So much mediocrity is being churned quickly through the presses, with the hope of one bestseller being found. Smaller runs support this effort to throw a multitude of stories into the pot while watching to see if one bubbles to the surface.
My challenge to you is to print fewer books. Dedicate and determine to publish only the very best, and then show us that you believe in that picture book with a larger print run and your full marketing dollars directly supporting it. Publishers, quiet the voices so that we might find and hear the book you believe in, the book that will touch parent and child, and foster readers for life.
As a corollary, I have to say that, yes, the picture book may create the lifelong reader, but even more likely, the board book will. A high quality, literary novelty or board book is often the child's first encounter with literature. In your pursuit this year to raise the profile of the picture book, don't forget the first books. Here is the reason Joan Holub and I continue to support readertotz. Board books are the roots of picture books. Let them be nourished as well.
Thank you for all you do for our children and literacy, publishers. Now show us your best.
Lorie Ann Grover, author and illustrator