Do Ebooks Make Good Children’s Gifts? Not Really…

Hi Angela,

Will my children’s chapter book make a good EPUB and/or MOBI (ebook) candidate? It has lots of pictures. I’d like to try to get some Christmas sales.

At, our black-and-white-interior publishing programs include not only a print edition, but also Basic MOBI and EPUB editions for distribution on,, Apple and Kobo (Canada’s popular ebook retailer). The services also include publishing the PDF version of the ebook on

MOBI is the ebook format used by Amazon for the Kindle while almost everybody else uses EPUB. When all else fails, if an ebook is offered as a PDF file, anybody with a computer can access it, as well as on most up-to-date smart phones, and even some ebook reading devices. This is important because most people don’t yet own a dedicated ebook reading device.

Graphic-laden books are not always good candidates for EPUB/MOBI ebook publishing because the graphics can be larger than the ebook reading device screens can comfortably handle. Furthermore, for children’s books, some of the existing devices don’t offer color viewing so the graphics are changed to black and white/grayscale anyway. Amazon won’t even accept ebook files over 50 megs and they assess a fee on each sale based on the ebook’s file size.

Children’s books don’t typically sell as well as adult books in electronic format. Parents and grandparents usually purchase print children’s books for their children/grandchildren. It’s difficult to wrap up an ebook file and put it under the Christmas tree, or in a birthday gift bag. In today’s wifi world, parents and grandparents want to encourage their children to be away from electronics as much as possible.

We have some children’s books on our Nook and we also, of course, have printed children’s books. The kids ALWAYS go for the print editions and the Nook has been gathering dust in a drawer for months now. After investing in several children’s ebooks, we realized how fruitless the gesture had been. We now once again regularly visit our local bookstore with our children, and we buy gifts for them there as well. We also frequently visit out of town bookstores when we’re traveling.

In my opinion, ebooks just don’t make good children’s gifts.

And, here’s something you may not know. If you, as an author, buy a copy of your newest ebook from Amazon for your niece, what you’ve actually purchased is an Amazon gift certificate…that can be used for anything on their website. So, while you thought you were sending a copy of your new book to your niece, she may have cashed in the gift certificate for a pair of earrings instead. Of course, that sale isn’t going to show up in your account on Amazon because the money that YOU spent went to the earring seller instead. See:
Authors Beware! “Gifting” Your Kindle E-Books May BACKFIRE!

If you are not sure your book will make a good ebook candidate, we’ll be happy to take a look at it, and to give you advice. If it’s not a good candidate, I would encourage you to only invest in the print edition at first (and, remember, that will include a PDF version of the ebook on BookLocker as well). Only if print sales are good should you consider investing in the EPUB/MOBI ebook editions later.

Many firms would love to charge you hundreds to a thousand or more to publish a color-interior children’s ebook but they’re not going to tell you that your return on investment will likely be nil on that. At, we break even on setup fees, and earn our profits on book sales, so we tell authors how it really is. If you send us a file that is NOT ebook-friendly, we’re going to let you know that straight-up. We don’t want you to spend a lot of money on something that isn’t going to be attractive to readers and we want you to earn back your investment. And, again, alongside the print edition on, we’ll offer a pdf version of the ebook for those readers who really, really want a copy right now. We don’t charge extra to do that. It’s included in our print publishing services, even for color-interior children’s books.

Have a question for Angela? Contact us here.