Are Avatars the Future of Personalized Books?

The diversity within children’s books has been an important, and much discussed topic lately; especially with recent incidents and reports surrounding the incredibly important BLM movement. Though only recently brought to most people’s attention, organisations such as We Need Diverse Books, which was founded in 2014, have long been campaigning to bring diversity into the world […]

The diversity within children’s books has been an important, and much discussed topic lately; especially with recent incidents and reports surrounding the incredibly important BLM movement. Though only recently brought to most people’s attention, organisations such as We Need Diverse Books, which was founded in 2014, have long been campaigning to bring diversity into the world of children’s books.

how books are made

The representation of BAME characters within children’s books has left a lot to be desired in the past, and currently falls far short of accurately representing the world to young children. At Signature Books we have tried to be mindful, but this shortfall is an industry-wide issue.

With the technology we use to create our personalized books we were limited with what we could offer in regards to changing the illustrations on each page. Our team have always been happy to create the characters, but as each book is created as a one-off print, the more options added to each character, the harder our technology needs to work.

All of our children’s titles include a preview function, allowing you to see inside the pages, read some of the story, and view the illustrations. We actively encourage our customers to utilise these preview links on their sites so that their customers can see the story they’re ordering, and also to see if our illustrations are what they want their child to see.

Many of our stories have been created through in-house ideas, using market research, customer feedback, and our own children for inspiration. We, of course, choose our titles with sales in mind, after all we are a business; but we have found that it’s hard to sell to the majority without marginalising some of the audience we aim to reach.

Previously we have created books which centralize around animal-based characters, or books where the narrative is directed towards the reader, using them throughout the story but not showing them as an illustrated character throughout the book.

The Guardian have reported that a 2019 report, titled Reflecting Realities, written for the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education reveals that 42% of children’s books published in the UK in 2018 follow this method of storytelling. A method which chooses not to specifically represent anyone is great as it doesn’t then misrepresent anybody. That’s no big deal, until you stop to think that children from a BAME background are much more likely to encounter a book where an animal is the main character than one which has characters that share their ethnicity.

Backing up the Guardian’s summary, figures from Cooperative Children’s Book Center of Education (CCBC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found that 29% featured animal characters or “other”, while almost 42% of books they were sent featured a white main character. It is therefore safe to conclude that white children are far more represented by humans, than they are by animals.

Adding the option to change the ethnicity, gender, and even add a disability to our personalized characters was always something we looked to do. However, to fully ensure that our technology could cope with the different combination of characters we need to be able to create, it took us a while to get it right.

We never wanted to promize something we were unsure would work. Now we do know this is something we can do, the function will be here to stay. Some of our current offerings of this avatar function offer around 39,750 possible combinations of personalized characters, and so we can boast that there’s no way to make a book more personal than that. However, we know that translating this functionality onto our customers’ sites is also a gauntlet we need to run. And so, we are now offering the unique choice of vouchers for our brilliant Build a Bear books. With this simple method, all our you need to do, to offer this amazing book to your customers, is list one SKU, use our product imagery and book previews, and watch the sales come through.

The voucher will contain steps to follow and a unique code that can be redeemed online for one Build-A-Bear storybook, which will also be delivered free of charge to their chosen address. When redeeming the code, they can then customize the characters in the book by adding a name, choosing gender, clothing, and other aspects of their appearance. Designed for children with their own Build-a-Bears personalized illustrations within this title are created for the child’s cuddly friend. But more titles where you can customize illustrations of the child are also available.

Available now.

Kobe Bryant: A Tribute

On Sunday, January 26, 2020 the world of basketball was shaken to its core. Lakers legend, Black Mamba was dead. Kobe Bryant had been killed along with his daughter and 7 other people when their helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California. How can the NBA ever recover from this immense loss? Even those not familiar with […]

On Sunday, January 26, 2020 the world of basketball was shaken to its core. Lakers legend, Black Mamba was dead. Kobe Bryant had been killed along with his daughter and 7 other people when their helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California. How can the NBA ever recover from this immense loss?

Even those not familiar with the world of basketball will be familiar with the name Kobe Bryant, a man who dedicated his 20-season career to the Lakers, making him the second longest one-franchise player in NBA history. Bryant’s beginnings with the NBA made history as he was the youngest player to be drafted at that time, but equally his exit from the NBA set him in the record books. The letter Bryant wrote in 2015, announcing his retirement, became the basis for Dear Basketball, an animated short film which won the 2018 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. As Kobe wrote and narrated the film, this gong put Kobe Bryant’s name in the record books as the first professional athlete to win an Oscar.

Retiring in style in April 2016, he scored a season-high 60 points in his final game and the same year was honored by the Los Angeles mayor with his own day, August 24th, taken from his two jersey numbers. During a special half-time show during the 2017 season, the Lakers retired both his jersey numbers. Kobe’s impact on the court was unquestionable, and the chapter of his life after retirement was tragically cut short.

A father of 4 girls, including 13-year-old Gianna who died with him, Bryant left a legacy that will remain in the hearts of Lakers and NBA fans alike.

There have been many tributes to Black Mamba, including the unforgettable Kobe & Gianna Bryant ‘Celebration of Life’ ceremony held at Staples Center on February 24, 2020. Though there is no way to truly capture the incredible career and tragic death of Kobe Bryant, we have teamed up with the LA Times to create our own memorial to him.

Within a special hand-made purple and gold giftbox you will find two special edition books. One contains the history of the Lakers franchise since it began in 1960. It includes all the highlights and triumphs using newspaper reports written at the time. Kobe’s many achievements during his 20 seasons with the Lakers are included within this complete story of the franchise – but one edition is not enough of a tribute to the man who is arguably the greatest player in their history.

The second book within this set is comprised of every LA Times article within our archive which commemorates Kobe Bryant. From the Calabasas helicopter crash, to the Kobe and Gianna Bryant Memorial service. There is no other publisher who can replicate this unique commemorative gift, and we can only hope that it does justice to the great man it has been created to honor.

Commemorative Gift Set

LA Lakers & Kobe Bryant
$ 149
99
RRP
  • Foil Embossed
  • LA Times Archive Articles
  • Gift Box Included
  • Two books included
Alternatively you can see our Kobe Bryant Tribute book
Available Too

The Print Solutions Awards 2018

A year since a respectable third place at the 2017 Print Solutions Awards, Signature Gifts went one, no, two better, with a winning entrant at the 2018 awards which were held at the Café de Paris in London. Hopes were unashamedly high for our entrant to this year’s competition. The Book About You (which you […]

The Book About You – The Ultimate Personalized Gift

ONE D.O.B = ONE Book About YOU Signature Gifts’ latest product, The Book About You offers the kind of content the title describes. This is a personalized book with a name that is all about the recipient and is the perfect gift for any occasion. Autobiographies. Books often written by sports personalities, actors, musicians, and any […]

Personalized Marvel Storybooks

Simply Marvel-ous With the release of Avengers: Infinity War, we thought it would be a good time to talk about our range of personalized Marvel storybooks. It would be an understatement to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a global phenomenon. Iron Man, which premiered in Sydney in 2008 was the starting point for the MCU […]

Investing and Innovating

We have moved to a new purpose built state of the art factory and invested around $2m in plant and machinery. It took a little time, but here you can see our purpose-built 15,000 sq feet factory. This state of the art print and book manufacturing facility designed to produce and dispatch 100’s of thousands […]

Going Up!

The BBC have reported in this article that sales of e-books dropped by 3% last year, and sales of non-fiction are up by 9%. Taking advantage of this upswing are our Signature Books customers, who are listing our historic newspaper books. These theme books have experienced a 12% increase in sales in the last year, and we […]

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