Sorry to be a bit of a downer, folks, but two news stories today gave me a touch of the picture book blues. First, there was word that the Mr. Men and Little Misses books are heading off to new corporate masters. Not that I have anything against these books (don’t want to be called out as Mr. Grumpy here!), but considering how the hardcover picture book market has been eviscerated by mass market over the years, it’s a little depressing to see so much value placed on these characters when hardcovers are dying on the vine. Feels like it’s been a while since a hardcover character got a similar courtship from the major media conglomerates—even Fancy Nancy ain’t that fancy.
And then there’s the whole Amazon kerfuffle on the Room for Debate page of the Times. Certainly, the level of anger and vitriol against our industry is enough to discourage anyone associated with books, but it’s extremely depressing for a picture book enthusiast to read the comments bashing traditional publishers. Because picture books are one of the few formats where a traditional publisher provides an indisputably vital function–can you imagine Amazon attempting to shape, edit, design, and package a picture book, not to mention pairing a writer with an artist in the first place? If the Big Six really go the way of the dodo, it’s going to be a very bleak day for the art of the picture book.
Now, I know these blues will pass, because the death of Big Six publishing has (per usual) been overstated of late. Plus, the picture book market, while not what it used to be, is still out there. In fact, one of the first projects I sold here at DGLM was a picture book, so I’m still very actively looking for author/illustrators. And the Society of Illustrators is gearing up for its annual picture book art show, which is always a great reminder of the incredible talent working in picture books today—well worth a visit if you’re in NYC this fall.
Still, if anyone’s got any uplifting picture book thoughts or news, I’d love to hear them. And full disclosure, I’m also getting pretty sick of reading the same books over and over to my toddlers–so new picture book recommendations would be very much welcomed. I’m sure they’d buoy my spirits!