Should I Publish a Board Book?

If you spend a little time searching the internet for information on self publishing a board book your bound, pun acknowledged, to run into some discouraging information. While most of this information is worthy of consideration and should be used to set initial expectations, some of the information is outdated and focuses on a narrow board book context.  With that in mind, let’s shed some positivity on the board book medium and answer the question, is self publishing of board book a good idea?

Board Books are Gifts

A board book is first a gift, second an experience and third a book. Newborns don’t buy board books for themselves and parents don’t buy board books to read alone.  No one buys a board book for themselves. Reminding myself that I’m writing a gift, not just a book, helps me consider marketing strategies outside the traditional book context. Don’t worry about what a book publisher would or wouldn’t do.  If you are self publishing, you have the freedom to think about the specific needs your gift meets for others and capitalize on your own unique ability to blend book and gift together.

Board Books are an Experience

Board Books are more an experience than they are a story.  I don’t say this because board books are short or lean on words. Board books are an experience because of how they are treated and how they are used. Board Book are tough, they are meant to be used, touched, pulled, bent, ripped. They are unlike the people reading them and therefore offer a counter point that is unlike other reading mediums.  A board book encourages touch and exploration with the written word, and does so along side a usually loving companion.  When it comes to your self published board book journey, don’t worry about making something commercial, focus on making the best experience you can.

Boar Books are Books

At the end of the day a board book is a printed book and printed books cost money.  You’ll read on the internet that board books are expensive and difficult to produce but don’t get bogged down with these generalizations.  Are board books expensive?  Comparatively, yes.  There is a problem with this question though. It assumes your sole purpose is to get your idea or story into print.  If that’s the case the case then maybe a board book isn’t right for you. I might even go further and say maybe print isn’t right for you.  You can create an ebooks or a web site that get’s your work out there for free. We don’t print because it’s cheaper, we print because it offers a different experience for the holder of our story. Sometimes the experience we are after fits perfectly with a board book, so it doesn’t matter that its not the cheapest way, because its the right way. Make sure you ask yourself, “Why does this have to be a board book?” and if the answer you come up with is compelling then save, raise, budget and work to make it happen the right way.

I agree there are lots of challenges with printing and self publishing board books. While it’s not the cheapest or most commercial route for a book, sometimes it’s the right one. When you find yourself in that situation remember it’s a gift, it’s an experience and it takes work to do it right. Also, rest assured, there are companies and little blogs like this to help you along the way.

Aaron Robbins

Aaron Robbins is educational marketing consultant, web developer, author, illustrator and frequent podcaster. He is the creator and producer of the fantastic children's quiz podcast, Best Quiz Ever, the author of Who Made Campfires and Baby's First Comic Book and a documentary filmmaker at