December 28, 2009

Happy New Year in 2010 to children around the world!

It doesn't get more fun than this.
In 2009 the Kids' Book Network launched the 
idea of free books for every child in the world.
Not just sample educational downloads,
or subscription classroom learning 
materials. You can find that stuff all over 
the internet.
What KBN introduced was the concept of 
real, on-paper, page-turning books, all 
for free download, in all of the classic forms 
of children's literature. Picture books. 
Adventure books. Coloring books. Joke books 
Puzzle books. And literary classics. 
Even books in new twitter-age forms like 
our almost origami-size microbooks.
And of course our KBN books represent the 
same quality of books you would expect to 
find in a popular bookstore or public library.
So what's ahead for 2010?

Well, once we get our KBN staff to wake up 
from their deep Winter sleep and charge back 
to work – get ready for even more free books, 
more fresh ideas, more big fun. And as we 
recently promised, look for the first of many 
more books coming up soon from the best 
international authors and illustrators – plus 
books in a new format to project and read on 
the biggest walls anywhere in the world.
Happy New Year from KBN!

November 30, 2009

KBN's first Thanksgiving.

The Kids' Book Network was launched on September 1, 2009.
    That's only three months ago. But as we reach the Thanksgiving season we already have much for which we are very grateful.
    First, the website itself was effectively complete, functional and glitch-free from Day One. Some people with spam blockers found it blocked the completion of their KBN registration – and it still does – if they don't advise their blocker to accept all messages from which sends the standard KBN message to complete the registration.
    Our registered users are starting to build as more and more parents, kids, teachers and other educators learn about KBN. And they're giving us some very helpful feedback and new ideas, too.
    We've already added some more swell free books – like our Halloween thriller The Vileburgers in October, as well as the suitable-for-framing Rembrandt's Coloring Book. And we have many, many more exciting books scheduled for publication in our first KBN full year ahead.
    We're inviting the best international children's book authors and illustrators, for example, to showcase some of their most original ideas with us on the Kids' Book Network, featured in some of their most delightful stories, and we'll be publishing the first of these works very soon.
    December also marks the publication of our second literary classic after the Wizard of Oz. And it marks as well our first cooperative publication with one of America's leading academic libraries.
    The classic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens was first published in a British newspaper, in a serialized format, in 1843. Republished here just in time for Christmas – again in a "serialized," five-part format – our special edition of of the story was carefully prepared by scholars at the University of Virginia Library and has been made available to KBN with their kind permission.
    Beginning in January teachers – and everyone else – will also be able to download many of our books in a convenient powerpoint show format for dramatic classroom projection, so a whole class can enjoy reading together at the same time. The teacher can pace the "page-turning" to the next page just like any on-paper book, to match the readiness of her class to move forward to the next idea in the story.
    And finally, we're beginning to see more and more institutional support as teachers themselves are telling other teachers about our website, and the new opportunities for enhancing literacy and learning in the classroom using the completely free books and materials on the Kids' Book Network.
    Everyone who has visited KBN seems to be as excited as we are about our mission – to bring free books to every child in the world.
    And at this special moment of Thanksgiving we wish to thank you all. Thank you for your enthusiasm, ideas and continuing encouragement.

October 8, 2009

Here come The Vileburgers. Genies they are, geniuses they're not.

According to Kirkus, The Vileburgers is something like "City Slickers meets Ghostbusters" with an outcome that's "enjoyably ridiculous."
      Bookwire, on the other hand, describes this new KBN action novel as "replete with elements of magic, humor and wit" and categorizes it as a "new Halloween classic ... imaginative adventure ... hilarious cast." We of course appreciate their enthusiasm.
     But the movie-style criticism from these reviewers is not entirely accidental. Vileburgers was deliberately written by the author in "scenes" rather than traditional book "chapters," and was written as well in the present tense to add additional immediacy and a certain live quality to the story – just like the experience of sitting in a "movie."
     That also makes it the perfect novel for teachers to use with the literacy development practice known as Readers Theater. So when you locate and download The Vileburgers from its location in the KBN Action Books category you'll also find a very complete series of lesson plans featuring Readers Theater.
     Published by KBN here in three episodes, we hope The Vileburgers adds extra fun to your October!

KBN introduces The Wizard of Oz.

Just like KBN today the Wizard of Oz represents a new direction for its time in children's literature.
    When L. Frank Baum first wrote and published the Wizard of Oz in 1900 he wanted to move the genre forward – to a new generation of characters and themes, and away from the continuous threats to children that characterized so many of the stories and fables and fairy tales written by Anderson and the aptly-named Grimm.
     When children read out of pleasure rather than fear, they enjoy the experience more, they read more, and ultimately they learn to read better.
     While the motion picture made from the Baum Oz stories is certainly a classic in its own right, the wit and charm of the original novel can't be completely translated to celluloid. The complexity of the characters, the surprising ideas and amusing sophistication of the narrative are simply exceptional and still a pleasure today for readers of all ages.
     Republishing the work here in five smaller, episodic volumes, we are very pleased to showcase The Wizard of Oz as one of the premiere titles in the KBN classic books section.
     Just print and read Volume I – and you'll just have to read the rest. Otherwise how will you know if Dorothy ever gets back to Kansas?

September 23, 2009

Can't complete your KBN registration? Maybe it's your darn spamblocker.

It looks like some philosophers, radio announcers and politicians are having trouble completing their KBN registration because they cannot receive their KBN e-mail confirmation. Bummer. The problem seems to be that they have set up some sort of spamblocker on their e-mail which is not all that smart about identifying actual spam, and blocks out the incoming registration notice coming from
    If that has happened to you we hope you have somehow figured it out by now and have told your anti-spam service to let any message from KBN's through the gate. Or, you can perhaps look in the e-mail folder that holds your incoming spam and see if you can find your KBN registration notice there.
    Finally, before you try to register with KBN, if you have a spamblocker on your system be sure to inform it to add our address to your let-it-in "whitelist." That way you can complete your registration and start downloading your free books from the KBN library.

September 2, 2009

Do the math.

We don't want to appear anti-technology by proposing that the classic paper book is still the most advanced and flexible technological form today for reading with both efficiency and pleasure.
      Some years ago we bought and deployed the first general purpose PCs in American business, and we have always appreciated the opportunities and possibilities inherent in new technology. But each new form of communications technology that comes along doesn't necessarily replace a previous technology.
    Gurus and pundits with gravelly voices announced that the arrival of television in 1948 would mean the end of radio. But 50 years later the radio industry was more prosperous than ever.
      So what's wrong with the idea that electronic books of one form or another will soon replace classic paper books? A number of factors are easily miscalculated.
      Do the math.
      Let's start with a look at the new, improved electronic book device that will almost certainly come out next week or next month, and let's call it the Dwindle. The Dwindle will cost approximately $200. If the buyer reads 100 books with the Dwindle before it becomes obsolete in one or two years, that would be pretty darn good. Let's say the Dwindle reader pays $8 bucks for each electronic book he reads, inexpensive compared to the cost of any conventional hardback novel today. But the total cost for one person to read 100 books is now $1000.
      The bottom line, then, is that 100 electronic book-reads costs $1000. Got that?
      Now let's say we take the same thousand bucks and buy 50 hardback on-paper novels or 50 non-fiction works in history, philosophy or science. But these novels or other works are stored on paper, which won't become obsolete in two years. They might be around and still very readable for ten or even a hundred years. And in a school or public library, it's quite possible that in ten years at least 10 people might read these humble on-paper books.
      This means that, for the same $1000 investment, instead of just 100 book-reads, you might get the investment payback of 500 books read by book readers. Which means, of course, that classic paper-format books today are still about 5 times as cost-efficient as the snazzy electronic Dwindle.
      Plus, you've got all the other advantages.
      For example, if you absentmindedly leave your current paper book on the seat of a taxi, or it gets beach sand in its circuitry or eaten by your dog, you're don't have to immediately shell out another $200 bucks for another Dwindle.
     Which takes us to the next issue, recycling.
     Most paper today is recycled, used over and over. So your dog-eaten paper novel might return a few months later as a new novel, or as almost anything else people do with paper today. Environmentally-speaking, then, the classic paper format for narrative and data storage is pretty clean.
     But we can't quite say the same yet for your pricy Dwindle.
     Reducing the toxic pollution of landfill sites from lead in the circuits of obsolete electronic equipment is becoming a significant issue. On a global basis, many millions of outdated computers and other electronic components with lead-solder circuitry are dumped in landfill sites each year. And rate of pollution will only worsen with present technology.
      The simple paper book, on the other hand, is completely lead- and battery-free.
      We're not saying that the paper book will someday replace the Dwindle completely. Technology will evolve, costs and prices will drop, and users will identify new uses of convenience. Just like television, the advantages of compact electronic text-face products will eventually find their mature media niche.
      But the classic paper-based book will also continue to prosper. And as a way to experience reading, in new forms like the KBN neobook, it is likely become more popular than ever.

August 9, 2009

I wake up with an interesting idea.

      Every once in awhile I wake up with a new idea.
      The effect when I announce this at the breakfast table is predictable. Women begin to weep, cats howl and dogs crawl under the table. But on the morning of December 1, 2007, for some reason it was different.
      The idea was elegantly simple. It was the possibility of a new web-based media which might be termed the

      Everything that the interesting new Kindle was, it wasn't.
      It turned state-of-the-art computer technology and web transmission away from an effort to replace the classic on-paper storage format, and around to a simple reinvention of book costs and distribution.
It might be sponsored by the same advertisers who sponsor conventional saturday morning kid TV shows and cartoons.
      But the content would be completely different, and could put free books into the hands of every child in the world.
      The promise of the idea was irresistible.
      And now, after almost two years in development, the concept has become the new Kids’ Book Network.
      Welcome to KBN.