3 S.R. Johannes: Lulu's Brew - Just in time for Halloween

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lulu's Brew - Just in time for Halloween

Elizabeth Dulemba stops by to discuss the journey of LULU's BREW. I've known Elizabeth since high school and we recognized each other a few years ago at a Southern Breeze SCBWI conference. Small world! :)

 My new picture book, LULA’S BREW, did not follow the normal publishing path. Yes, the dummy made the rounds in New York - twice. But that’s not how she finally entered the world. I made her into one of the first iPhone children’s book apps way back in 2009, when apps were a new and radical thing. Later I adapted her to the iPad too. She earned me a lot of press. I wrote articles for trade magazines, did some very high-tech school visits, and received several invitations to speak on the topic. I was one page ahead in the manual and that made me an expert. 

But really, I was just listening to my radar. I’ve come to trust it over the years. And this is what it tells me...

Traditional publishing is going through radical changes right now, much like the music industry did several years ago. Everybody predicted the downfall of the big publishing houses when ebooks started taking off, but I’m starting to see a trend in another direction. 

Ebooks are just another way to read. Just like paperbacks were a cheaper way to enjoy stories when they first came on the scene. Just like Gutenberg’s press made books more widely available rather than killing the hand-made book. 

I watch my young cousins with my iPad. I used to download picture books onto it, but it quickly became apparent that an electronic device meant games to them - not books. And I watch my own reading habits. I love my Kindle because I don’t have the space to keep every physical book I read. But I don’t like reading on my iPad - a backlit screen. My husband, however, reads on his iPhone and his Nook Color all the time. 

What this says to me is people like to read in different ways and now we have options. And for every method to read there is another way to create or produce a book. One of the most interesting reactions I heard on the topic was from Shelli herself over a breakfast get-together. She said her audience isn’t the same that buys physical books - it’s a completely new and different demographic. Her audience gobbles up books like candy - fast and furiously, and electronically. Fascinating.

And yet, I am coming full circle. LULA’S BREW was downloaded over 10,000 times as an app. But even with all her success, I kept getting emails from fans asking “Where can I buy the book?” Picture books, it would seem, still have strong appeal in print. 

I did consider self-publishing, but following Shelli’s experiences with her novels quickly proved to me that was an area I didn’t want to tackle. (It’s hard work!) So I was thrilled when I came across an article in Shelf Awareness about an ebook publisher, Xist Publishing, who was turning successful children’s ebooks into print books. Why? They discovered their books sold better and for more money when they were available both electronically and in print. How’s that for turning technology on its head? I immediately got in touch and happily, they flipped over LULA’S BREW and took it on.

But perhaps even more interesting is how Xist publishes books. They are a traditional house using unconventional methods. They use print-on-demand resources like Amazon’s Createspace and/or Lightning Source to produce their books as orders come in. It’s a radical idea that saves money and resources - there’s no warehousing and no waste. Might this be the wave of the future?

Two years ago everybody was predicting the demise of the print book. But today, I think we can safely say the physical book is not dead - at least in children’s books. It’s just that now we have so many ways to read. If anything, it seems that reading is a growing past-time among a growing audience!

I’m thrilled to include LULA’S BREW among the print picture books available this Halloween season.

Elizabeth Dulemba
" During my graphic design career, I was often Art Director, but always in-house illustrator, creating art mostly for child-related industries such as Buster Brown Apparel (I drew Charlie Brown and Snoopy for many years), Brach’s candy, even the Stone Mountain Laser Show. My graphic design background gave me an intimate knowledge of the publishing process and enough web savvy to create my own web site. In fact, I embrace all things technological and create my illustrations digitally. I even created one of the first picture book apps available for the iPhone way back in 2009, LULA'S BREW(downloaded over 10,000 times)."

To find her, visit her web site.


Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Thanks so much for having me on Shelli! :) e

Jemi Fraser said...

There's something special about picture books in print. Maybe it's the magic of sharing the experience with the little ones!

Angela Brown said...

What a wonderful trek Lulu's Brew has had. It's fantastic you were able to get ahead of the curve on the app angle. And now interested readers can also get in in paperback.

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Yay for Lula's Brew! Even though I know her story, I'm still impressed by her journey. You "Early Adopters" of technology are inspirations to the rest of us who are still trying to find the on/off button...;-)

Anonymous said...

This is probably the coolest thing I've read about all week! I love my picture books from my childhood, and I still have the special ones. There IS something to be said about those books that hold so many memories, an ebook just can't hold that.


Kelly Polark said...

So interesting! Meegenius just published my first picture book app last month (which I love!) & so many asked if they could buy it as a regular picture book too. I wonder if Meegenius would allow that at some point...

Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Kimbra Kasch said...

HUGE CONGRATS to Elizabeth and Kelly. !!! and LuLu of course... ;D