Pictures still speak more than words

Thank you Publisher’s Weekly! Yesterday PW ran an article by Karen Springen fleshing out this darn picture book issue and doing it very convincingly.

Picture books are not becoming less popular. After talking to numerous publishers, agents, booksellers, author and illustrators, Springen finds pictures books just as desireable as they have been. She admits they may be slightly hurt by the the recession but she says this is merely a result of the economy and it will cycle back.

Springen cites HarperCollins Children’s Books president Susan Katz as saying her team at Harper was first “sad and then mad” after reading the NY Times front page article and that senior agent George Nicholson “let out a shriek” after reading the Times’ claims.

In fact, not a single person Springen talked to confirmed the Times’ article’s findings. Wahoo!

Springen also confirms my belief that picture books used to be more sophisticated:

“Some authors report that publishers want less text these days. “They keep wanting younger books and shorter text,” said author-illustrator Dominic Catalano.”

It makes me very happy to know that picture books are safe, for now.

What I find ironic is that Scholastic’s report announced the slow death of picture books and yet recently I have bought a ton of Scholastic picture books through my children’s schools (around 20 this fall – agh, don’t tell my husband!)! Granted, they were the soft cover versions of the hard copy books but perhaps that’s just what the industry needs to do to give picture books a boost. Ditch the hard covers, reduce costs and power on!

Comments (2)

JD at Books of Wonder & WisdomDecember 21st, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I’m glad to see you’re spreading the positive news in the recent Publishers Weekly article. In my latest post, I’ve responded to it, too, as it’s important to set the record straight — and to encourage folks to keep reading picture books to children!
As a former PK-5th-grade school librarian, however, I think picture books are both more sophisticated — and less — than they were in the past. While some recently published books are super simplistic, others are so sophisticated in terms of theme or vocabulary, they are best appreciated by fourth or fifth graders. Check out my blog at to discover pictures books that are great to read aloud to children up to age 10.

MichelleDecember 21st, 2010 at 5:03 pm

It’s great to hear a former elementary school librarian confirm the incredible value of picture books. Long live picture books! Thanks JD.