Paper or pixels and books worth the paper they are printed on

tickle my ears book, picture books for kids children, award winning kids book, Jorg MuhleYoung children love the physical book. Author Joy Cowley often talks about the way young children make friends with their books, and tuck them down their jerseys and take them to bed.

One of my favourite stories is that of Edward, upset when he saw that I was carrying a copy of Who’s Driving? which he was also much attached to. He told me I had copied his book!

My hairdresser says his son Noa now believes he is a magician, and has only to clap his hands and all rabbits will immediately put on their pyjamas and prepare themselves for bed—that is the joy of Tickle My Ears.

Gecko Press is committed to producing what we call curiously good books made with good paper, strong stitching and hardwearing jackets, often with flaps to protect the corners.

Digital formats are part of our lives now. Just about every Gecko Press book is available in digital format. Sales of picture books in general, not just for Gecko Press, are still insignificant at 2% but of course that will change.

Real books perhaps means books with real stories, digital or physical, as opposed to all the other things that are available digitally—games and apps and social media and tv and so on.

The biggest challenge for Gecko Press, producing real books in a digital environment, is in reaching our audience. Gecko Press publishes stories outside the mainstream. As mainstream bookshops increasingly only stock big names and best sellers, and narrow their range, it can be difficult for Gecko Press books to find a place on the shelves and be accessible to book buyers.But the digital environment gives us means to reach our audience in new ways and this is a huge opportunity for independent publishers and bookshops and authors.

Our job in the digital environment is to find our audience and to make sure they know about our books, to engage with our readers and the adults supplying children in our case with books. We need to use every digital means at our disposal to achieve this, as well as the other ways of reaching audience, face to face. Managing the digital environment is not easy and the options of how to do it change every day. It is also very time consuming.

I believe being a champion of reading is most important in this digital environment: many parents truly want their children to read well and to enjoy reading. Adults must show that reading is important by allowing time to read themselves and to read to their children. And that means persevering with children who don’t enjoy reading, so they find the one book that might change their reading life.The Gecko Press answer to producing real books in a digital environment is to try to publish emotionally engaging stories that are worth the paper and the pixels they are produced on.

Publisher Julia Marshall