I recently came across an article in 'Small Business in Vancouver Magazine' that was titled 'Children's book authors share selling strategies'. Of course I was very interested. The article talked about several small scale publishers and their strategies when it came to competing with publishing giants as well as the rise of electronic book sales. At the centre of the story was a woman named Tina Powell ( a local Vancouverite no less) who was being praised for her business smarts when it came to self-publishing her picture books. At first I was intrigued, then shocked and then totally disgusted at how her 'business smarts' actually translated into the real world.
"So far, her six books have sold an impressive 600.000 units, largely because of her success at attracting corporate sponsors, such as Maple Leaf Foods, Proctor and Gamble Co. and Boar's Head, she said.Earlier this year, Sarasota, Florida-based Boar's Head bought 200.000 copies of Powell's Fernando's Fun-tastic Friends.That book both entertains and educates kids on the value of healty eating. Part of the book also mentions a fundraising walk for the American Diabetes Association. (ADA)Powell tweaked the book and made a special edition for Boar's Head, which produces deli meats, many of which are low in fat or in sodium.Powell discretely inserted posters advertising Boar's Head products in some of the illustrations.Boar's Head sponsors ADA and intended to give the books away for free."For me as an author, my mission is to get these books into the hands of as many children as possible. These corporate sponsors are a huge help by being willing to get those books out there. I can go to a school and say, 'Everybody here gets a free book. That's amazing." Powell said."(quote from article written by Glen Korstrom)I am pretty amazed that this woman doesn't in the slightest seem to realize (or want to admit) that since she has 'tweaked' them to include ads for products in them they are not actually any longer the books she intended children to have, but have simply become another way for children to be bombarded by ad companies and their products. And may I say what a clever and sly way to advertise. Oh sure, we just want to give children 'educational books' for free... that have our product all over them. The author and illustrator has in this case simply become a tool for the company to promote their product. The integrity of the book has vanished and the children are now being sold a product instead of reading a book. It is not a Children's Picture Book any longer, it is merely a form of advertisement. Very, very disturbing.