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Books and Ebooks and Apps, Oh My!

Opening day for Cybils 2011 is fast approaching and you know what that means — yet more changes to the contest. We thought we'd just be tweaking around the margins at this point in our six-year history. But that's an eon in the digital age, and we've had to pivot quickly to avoid becoming the Jurassic Awards.

This year is no different. We've been keeping an eye on ebooks for some time, but this was the year the market seemed to hit critical mass. I got a Nook for Hanukkah and I swear I've woken up with a Nook-imprint on my cheek some mornings. I feel like I'm eight again, sneaking books under the bed covers.

I'm not alone in my ebook obsession: Amazon announced in May that titles for its Kindle now outsell paperbacks. They began outselling hardbacks in 2010. At Cybils, we've always been happy to accept review copies in ebook format, but never had any takers. This year, we expect that to change.

Our Young Adult and Fantasy/Science Fiction panelists will also be accepting books that are ONLY out in ebook, and that have no dead-tree counterpart. It's an experiment, and we'll see if we're drowned in drek or if some lovely stuff floats to the surface. All other genres will accept electronic review copies only if the title is also out in print.

We're also happy to announce we'll be accepting nominations for some book apps. We're still discussing exactly what format that will take, but it seems likely it will be exclusively for the iPad and probably also computer- and Web-apps. More on this later, as we nail down exactly what we want.

So some new changes, but it's still the same Cybils underneath. Our criteria for excellence hasn't changed: books, ebooks and apps must have both literary merit and be "kid friendly."

Happy end of summer,

–Anne Levy, Cybils Administrator

Anne LevyBooks and Ebooks and Apps, Oh My!

Comments 12

  1. Sheila Ruth

    Also, just to clarify that in Fantasy/SF we’ll be accepting ebooks only in the YA subcategory, and not in Elementary/Middle. Essentially, the experiment will take place in the two YA fiction categories.

  2. Ms. Yingling

    The downside to books published only in ebook format is that most school libraries will be unable to offer these to students. Since we are dealing with children’s literature, this will skip a large section of the population who purchase books for children. It is a noble experiment, however.

  3. TadMack

    Huh. Makes sense, as YA lit is all about the futuristic and such. How very cool!
    To Mrs. Yingling: I think the books nominated will still be offered in hard/paperback – despite none of my books being mainly purchased or read via ebook, my editorial contract covers them and most mainstream publishers create them, but the balance is still the hardbacked book. It’s mostly self-pubbed folk who solely have ebooks, and much of the time they also lack editors and some level of quality, which we’re obviously looking for in the Cybs, so you might not see those as finalists or winners anyway.

  4. Sheila Ruth

    Actually, Ms Yingling is correct. As an experiment this year, we will be accepting books that are only published as ebooks, and that are not available in print, in the two YA categories only. There will be some restrictions on these, which we will post later, that will be intended to raise the bar a bit and avoid a flood of the lower quality, poorly edited books. But the situation has reached a point that we felt we could no longer ignore this trend. There are self-published ebooks selling millions of copies, and even some of the larger publishers are experimenting with ebook only books.
    Ms Yingling: if school libraries don’t have this capability yet, I’ll bet that they will in the next few years. My son started college this week, and on a tour of the library at orientation, the librarian said that they are starting to make some ebooks available this year for the first time. Many public libraries have ebooks available. My local library does, anyway. So I think that it will trickle down eventually to the school libraries.
    I personally am not a huge fan of ebooks. I still prefer to read books in print. I also am not one who thinks that all books are going to be digital. But I do think that it is a big enough trend that we can’t ignore it.
    After we see how it goes this year, we will re-evaluate and decide whether to continue to accept them or not.

  5. The1stdaughter

    I’m really excited to see this addition! I review quite a few picture book apps on iPhone & iPad, so I’ll be interested to see how you go about setting up the process and which ones are featured. I’m definitely looking forward to these additions and seeing how they enhance the process. :)

  6. TadMack

    Oh – I just reread the original post. Sheila, thanks for the correction. Wow. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
    For a long time I discussed ebook rights with my agent, because I wanted to keep mine, and he said that children’s/YA books in ebook form weren’t doing enough business for it to be worth the effort of arguing with a major publisher necessarily (he was more intelligent than that; this is a broad overview). He said they weren’t anywhere near ubiquitous and that they accounted for only about 25% of those books sold. I don’t know – that may have changed. I won’t comment further until I hear the rest of the rules.

  7. Sandra Stiles

    I love the idea of ebooks. At least a quarter of my middle school students have some sort of ereader or app to read books in my classroom. For many of them when I recommend a book the first question they ask is if there is an ebook for it. I personally own a Nook but have a Kindle App on my computer and downloaded the Adobe digital reader to accept other formats.

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