Tag Archives: Books

iBooks Author

After reading the recent article about iBooks Author in The Bookseller, I decided I would blog about my user experiences.

I downloaded iBooks Author soon after its launch with a view to launching a range of iBooks. I thought it would have more features than it does and so, for a month or so, I was struggling to get it to do what I wanted.

I still haven’t managed to recreate the image of the interactive books that I expected it to be able to produce but along the way I have learned how iBooks is best utilised!

In my opinion iBooks Author is an extremely useful and essential free tool for creating digital books for iBookstore and I think it is best suited for specific educational/ information tools and simply reading.

I was hoping it would have more features to create more personally interactive children’s books.

I would like to see Apple create updates or add-ons which can provide some super-duper interactivity for use in children’s books, perhaps simplifying animation software somehow. I would definitely be at the front of the queue for more widgets… Apple might also want to consider charging for extras (with free trials).

If anyone from Apple is reading this – I would love to test anything you are working on to improve the iBooks Author with a view to making it even more useful!!

The Pros to the iBooks Author are:

It is very user friendly.

Apple do not own the rights to the content of your iBook. (As I understand it…) but they do own the format in iBooks – which means you can create in iBooks Author and sell on iBookstore, but if you want to take the content to other digital platforms you have to reformat it.

The interactive widgets are user friendly, albeit very basic.

The Cons:

The lack of ability to save to different digital formats (again Apple – something I am sure people would be prepared to pay for the option, as it saves time and effort!).

Limited templates (though I think you can download others online now).

Limited Interactive widgets.


All-in-all if you haven’t already downloaded iBooks Author, I would advise you give it a go!

If you don’t fancy trying it yourself, VixenUK offers iBooksAuthor conversion services (initial consultation is free)!


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Filed under Apple, Author, books, digital, ePub, General publishing, iBooks, Uncategorized, Writing

London Book Fair 2012

By Vix Southgate

This is my 4th visit to the London Book Fair and (with the exception of the year of the ash cloud, which worked in my favour as it meant the heads of companies were free because their clients were unable to fly in) this year has been the best in terms of meetings, networking and general uplifting conversation.
Everyone has been so positive. The shift into digital seems to be a less painful process for a lot of publishers and agents, and the emerging companies, as a result of the embrace of digital formats, has made this a very innovative and encouraging experience.

Now is an exciting time to be in the publishing industry and the next year will be crucial to deciding the most successful directions for the industry as a whole.

It has been an epic 4 days at London’s Earl’s Court exhibition centre.
My Book Fair began with the Introduction to Rights Workshop on Sunday 15th. I was torn between this and the digital conference at the QEII conference centre but I think I made the right choice for superb value for money and with twitterers tweeting from the digi conference, I was able to follow the sessions there too!
The rights workshop was a very informative session and one that I would highly recommend for anyone going to the London Book Fair to attend. I found that it gave me a better understanding of how to better use my time, as I had in insight into the purpose of the fair.

The next 3 days were full on with meetings, general ambling and stopping by and talking to as many people that I could, as well as reconnecting with everyone I have met over the past 4 years.

The highlights of my show were the unexpected invites to various events, which were through contacts and networking over the previous 3 years. I found that 2 hours with a drink in my hand, one evening, was probably more productive than many of the meetings at the fair itself! BUT I would not have had that opportunity if I hadn’t been talking and networking at the fair!

I cannot emphasise more, how important networking is!

The VixenUK business model has been confirmed as an asset to the industry and now I just need you to join me in my quest to develop a community for the publishing industry.

For more information on how you can do this:

Follow me on twitter @VixenBooksUK (business account) or @Victrix75.

Flickr group: VixenUK

Facebook page: VixenUK

And of course, you can subscribe to this blog, which will be updated more often as the excitement builds!

I look forward to connecting with you.

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Filed under children, General publishing, Uncategorized

The importance of Physical books for children

By Victoria Southgate


There is currently a huge shift in publishing towards digital formats and ePublishing, I am a great advocate for technological advances in publishing as it is a major aspect of the VixenUK business model.
The future of publishing must include ePublishing and appBooks but a digital future doesn’t have to be exclusive of physical books.

VixenUK is striding into the future, embracing the digital revolution but at the same time, not losing sight of the importance of physical books especially for children.

Why are physical books important for children?
Children’s development is ruled by discovering the physical world. They do this a number of ways but one that I believe to be of extreme importance is through the means of a physical book

The experience of textures and sounds from the early books, the colours and the voyage of discovery that takes place with each page that is turned, and the sense of achievement at such a simple task is something that has to be enhanced by a physical experience like lifting a flap to find something underneath, turning a page, and the joy of a parent reading the words that guide the child. An experience which I cannot see being matched by technology and a screen.

Children develop their fine motor skills through turning pages and being taught to be careful and gentle, otherwise the page gets ripped. They begin to understand the world around them can be fragile and tactile. They learn by feel.

Have you ever seen a child not touch something? They are programmed to experience through their senses, they pick something up, they feel it and in the early years they taste it, it’s only as we get older that the need to feel something to understand it reduces (though for some it never fully goes away. – for example – I cannot walk through a clothes shop without touching the fabric. That is the way I like to clothes shop.)

So a child without physical books could potentially miss out in other areas of development. (Though I am sure that many would learn the lesson through different means but perhaps much later in life.)
When I was a child, I learned that everybody treats books differently and I learned that you have to respect them. To some people, books are precious items, to be looked after and treasured, to other they are a throw away item, but to all they deliver an experience. For my family, books are precious, they hold memories for the reader and every blemish or worn page tells its own story.
The experience of reading a book that I knew my mother held and read when she was my age, seeing and feeling the difference in the feel of the paper was exciting and mesmerising and were experiences I will always cherish.

I can’t imagine that sense of being trusted enough to be given such a cherished item would be as intense with a digital format book, something that can be re-downloaded into the state it was before. Plus, technology will move on so fast, handsets will change,and the experience and feel of a digital book could not be passed down the generations.

Physical books will always have their place and are extremely important for children’s development and that’s even before we get to the content!

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Filed under children, General publishing, Uncategorized

The Future of Publishing – A 7 year old’s perspective

by Victoria Southgate

I decided to take a break over Christmas because I spent the months running up to it in, what can only be describe with hindsight as, a disorientating freefall.  2011 provided me with many contacts and the majority of them have been an open resource of information, guidance, advice and support. I have spent months trying to gather all the information I need and just before Christmas I found myself floundering, it is very probable that I was overloaded with information and advice. I needed to decide where I wanted to be, be specific (for the first time in my life) as to what I wanted to achieve. I wanted to create a super-duper business plan/strategy, something that I could refer back to, that would spur me on in the darkest of times, which all start-up businesses go through.

However, I asked for help to do this, so I had a game-plan, but the help wasn’t there. No-one could tell me what I needed to know, nobody else knew what I could do. I had to figure it out for myself! So after months of reassessing my business idea and stressing about what my end game should be, yet never really getting my head around where I am truly going, Christmas was upon me. I went into the Christmas week in a blur. I felt as if I should be doing something, what had I forgotten to do?  Then I realised; Christmas was going to happen anyway, even if I had forgotten something and …did it really matter? It was at that moment I decided to STOP DOING and START BEING.

The first thing I did?… I played with my 7 year old daughter, I allowed myself to be immersed in her world. I discovered how differently she views things. I listened to her; her stories; her songs; her chats with her toys; the games she plays; and I listened to her reading from many different types of books.

It then occurred to me that sitting beside me ‘was’ the future of publishing. It is her generation that will decide how publishing will progress, so I asked her what she prefers to read – Digital or Physical books? Her initial answer was concise, so simple, she simply said “Both!”. So I asked her what she would read in the Physical form and what she would read in Digital format. Her answer was, this time, more considered and intellectually astute… this is what she said:

“I would read Physical fiction books and Digital non-fiction”

her reasoning was this:

“I get more of an experience out of the non-real stories when I read them and feel the book and I can really ‘get into’ the story. And when I want to know and learn about real things, I think it is good to be able to get extra information and it makes learning fun.”

As a 7 year old, she is reading stories that are littered with illustrations, because her ability to read and imagine is still limited even though her reading age is far older than she is. She could easily read text based books, but she would not get as much enjoyment out of them as she does when there is visual stimuli to break up the monotony of text.

My Daughter’s responses to my questions confirms that the Future of Publishing must include Physical Books and Digital Content, working together to create a greater whole.   So beyond wanting to provide creative services for publishing professionals and companies, I have decided that VixenUK’s end game will include collaborating with other companies to produce high quality Physical and Digital products.

I would very much like to hear from anyone who would like to join me to develop a great future for the Publishing Industry.

Email: info@vixenuk.co.uk


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Filed under General publishing

Space Events and Xmas Wishes

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Space Events at the House of Commons
By Vix Southgate

My recent foray to London was primarily to attend an event at the House of Commons. This, for me, was to be the final event in the YuriGagarin50 calendar and a reward for a year of hard work. I didn’t aim to go to work or promote, but when the opportunity presents itself – who am I to deny another photo shoot or chance to get ‘Yuri Gagarin – The First Spaceman’ (ISBN 978 190 158 7517 http://vixsouthgate.co.uk/books) some more publicity and potential sales.!

First was the Media Space event. It was at the beginning of this event that I presented all the winners with a copy of my Gagarin book. I was followed with a brief talk from Adam Afriyie MP (Chair of the Parliamentary Space Committee). Then two very inspirational guest speakers Richard Garriott and Lucy Hawking focused their talks on space exploration and science to the young winners of the Cosmic Futures competition (http://www.qmul.ac.uk/media/news/items/se/60606.html). I was extremely excited by the speakers. For 3 years I have been working as a writer of science-based children’s books and trying to inspire and engage with children like this in an innovative way. (My successful result being the aforementioned Yuri Gagarin book.) I took the opportunity to speak with Lucy Hawking after the event and concluded that there are many new opportunities that are available for Gagarin and my other planned books.


Once the networking was over, the majority of the attendees of the first event then adjourned to the Members’ Dining Room for the Parliamentary Space Committee’s Christmas Reception. This also included the launch of the National Space Academy (Which is being led by the National Space Centre on behalf of the UK Space Agency, the Science & Technology Facilities Council, the UK Space Education Office (ESERO-UK), and the European Space Agency,) http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/press-releases/2011/december/uk-launches-national-space-academy
Anu Ojha, Director of the National Space Academy spoke to the room, followed again by a short talk from Richard Garriott and one of the Cosmic Future winners, 10 year old Rebecca. The rest of the event was networking and catching up with everyone I had met over the past 18 months in relation to YuriGagarin50 (http://yurigagarin50.org) and through my Gagarin book and work with the British Council.

I thought that this year’s celebration of 50 years of Spaceflight would have a time limit (of the year) and I certainly wasn’t expecting to still be writing book proposals and working on educational resources into 2012 for Gagarin. How wrong I was…

This year I have met at least 3 astronauts; 10+ cosmonauts; Yuri Gagarin’s Daughter; Sergei Korolev’s Daughter, granddaughter and great granddaughter; 2 Ambassadors (though neither offered me Ferrero Rocher!); key people in Space Agencies, top space-related businesses and educational out-reach companies; visited Moscow on invite of the British Embassy; held the ignition key that Korolev used to launch his rockets into space; and I have forged, what I hope will be, long-lasting relationships with many in this sector.

2011 has been an exhilarating year, both business-wise and personally. I began the year wondering how I was going to achieve all my goals and I finish the year having exceeded the goals I set and managed to achieve other challenges that this year has forced upon me, and I have grown and flourished as a result. I thought it would all be over by now, but this is really only the beginning.

2012 is primed and ready for launch… T-13days!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.



Images of R Garriott with my Yuri Book are copyrighted to Michael Cockerham Photography http://www.michaelcockerham.com/


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