Monday, January 7, 2008

Lookybook: Good or Bad Idea?

Illustrator and blogger Don Tate asks if Lookybook is a good idea. Lookybook is an online website with the mission to:
"create a comfortable place where a curious and devoted audience can search, view, talk about, and buy from a diverse and rapidly expanding collection of picture books. We intend to create the greatest opportunity for authors, illustrators and publishers to reach interested consumers and dramatically extend the life of their books."
What I like about the site:
1. Easy, convenient ability to search the site via keyword, author or illustrator and subject matter. Yes, there's a Lookybook African American listing.
2. Way to market one's picture book to new audience.
3. New opportunity to post and read reviews
4. Avenue for multi-cultural books to be promoted (I learned about several interesting titles!)
5. View great artwork! One feature I love about real bookstores is the chance to walk into the Children's section and see the outward facing book covers - all the marvelous, varied artwork. I get a similar rush from Lookybook.

What I'm not crazy about:
1. The page-turning images are fine, I just can't read the text of many of the books. There's no button to enlarge or magnify pages. Given the difficulty in reading the text on a computer screen, there's little fear that visiting Lookybook will subsitute for reading and not purchasing a book.

I can't see much differences between what Lookybook is doing than what Google Book Search or Amazon's Search Inside is doing - except for the fabulous emphasis on children's picture books. Where is the value add that Lookybook brings?

Lookybook seems ideal for backlist titles or out of print picture books or even non-English picture books. There are quick links to buy any title - probably via affiliate marketing links where the site gets a commission for each sale. Is there an opportunity for independently owned bookstores to participate?

There seems little reason for visitors to return to Lookybook after a first visit - I've already bookmarked I WOULD return if Lookybook offered for sale, say, 25 copies of a title autographed by the author and/or illustrator... that would get me back to the site... and give publishers and authors reasons to promote not only the titles, but the site.

I'd LOVE to see Lookybook add picture books titles from other countries - with links for purchasing. What are the best selling UK or South African picture books?

Going back to the out-of-print titles, one of the reasons I buy from is to get out-of-print titles. I'd love to SEE the inside of OOP picture books via Lookybook prior to purchasing.

On a minor point, Lookybook should add a counter on its homepage showing how many titles are within the site - unless a visitor clicks around, it's hard to know if new titles have been uploaded since one last visited or even if there's a substantial number of books on the site now (yes, there's over 200).

Don, Yes, I think the site has the potential to be another avenue to reach readers. Enjoy!


Don Tate II said...

Hey Kyra, Thanks. I'm straddling the fence on this. On the one hand, I can see the value in Lookybook in promoting books. It's much like a bookstore where the customer can view a book before a purchase. However, I also see a website that is re-publishing entire picture books (in electronic form), with no compensation to the author or artist. Could you imagine what would happen if this happened in the music industry?

I stopped buying newspapers years ago because, for the most part, a newspaper's content is available for free on the internet. I can't see how this will help an already sluggish picture book market. I hope I am wrong.

Kyra said...


Interesting point. I still see more benefits to gaining new readers for a title vs losing royalties or book sales. If my book is NOT where potential readers are, I'm guaranteed to have $0 in royalties.

Let's see.... Best, Kyra

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