If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose? Why?
I’d have lunch with David Attenborough. He’s one of my heroes. I studied palaeontology and biodiversity in university – and have always loved nature and wildlife; David Attenborough’s books and TV series are the main reason for this!
Your bag is one of the most functional we’ve seen. If you could select one item from your bag to represent who you are, what would it be and why.
Haha! I don’t like carrying extra stuff, you know. I’d say the jade goat charm is the one item that represents me the most. It’s from my niece. It reminds me of family and my family’s roots in China. And jade is a reminder of nature, earth.
You’ve worked at Penguin and Parragon Books in the past. What do you think traditional publishers can learn from the digital/tech industry and vice versa?
Traditional publishers have been learning a lot from the tech world: how to work faster, the need for testing, the value of data! The tech world could learn a thing or two from traditional publishers about storytelling, brand development, how to nurture an idea that will be around for a hundred years or more.
What key advice would you give to someone building an app for kids?
Two things: Your app MUST tap into an existing human behaviour or play pattern. Asking people to adopt behaviours that don’t exist will not work. And secondly, you have to have a marketing plan or else no one will find your app, no matter how great it is. And I don’t mean launch a Facebook page …
How do you think the shift to digital is going to further change the way people read? We often hear debates about print versus digital, but do you think this is even a choice to be made these days? What is your take on this debate?
I don’t think digital technology will fundamentally change the way people read. E-readers are simply another format: a cheaper more accessible one, just like paperbacks are to hardcovers. I do feel more and more people will read the majority of their books via digital devices, but physical books are here to stay. Gorgeous full-colour, gift books – as well as physical books for kids – haven’t been affected by e-reading the way fiction has.
Tell us about something fun you’re working on now.
We are making a game for a chapter book brand we created in conjunction with author/illustrator Tom Percival. The brand is called Little Legends, and Pan Macmillan is publishing the physical books next year.
What are you most excited about for ‘Made In Me’?
We are creating new kids brands to launch via our e-reading app, Me Books. Some are digital picture books, others are digital chapter books and comics. It’s fun commissioning stories again, rather than solely focusing on the marketing and business development aspects of the app.