Mine isn't a children's picture book, but it is mostly photo-based. I used a lot of over laying of photos to get more design options. Free sample chapters available here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/how-to-haunt-your-house-book/id543395224?mt=11
OK, here is what I did for our children's picture book...I crafted the whole thing in iBA with bells & whistles but just before submitting I read a report of a study by the Joan Ganz Institute about retention rates for ebooks. Turns out there is a 40% LOSS in retention when a story is told where a child taps, pulls, etc or otherwise is distracted when reading or having the book read to them. They remember where to tap or press for an effect but don't really connect with what the story is saying.
So, I gutted all the extras and did a simple text version (text on full page photos) so it is just a regular old picture book but presented as an eBook. I then found it easier to do a picture book in Book Creator. I used Book Baby to submit to a slew of stores and then subbmited my book to iBookstore myself. This was on Friday at 6am. When I returned Friday eve, the book was availlable for sale in 32 territories. The coveted green light in one day. I thought it was a mistake but there it is in the iBookstore. I'm thinking that because I kept it so simple I avoided all the stop signs. As I have 6 of these in this series, I think I will do them all as read only books and then do a few apps with similar content.
I understand your concern, but I've spent lots of time reading paper books with kids. Flipping through the book before they read it is part of normal early reading behavior. I think seeing the scrubbers at the bottom is similar to this.
For me, I wanted to make our book as accessible for kids with fine motor difficulties. Being able to "swipe" or tap on the scrubbers at the bottom is a great option.
I also think the teeny tiny pictures (scubbers) atthe bottom do give early readers a great way to predict what's going to happen next.
Our book is in American Sign Langauage (video) as well as English (text & audio) so for us, the visual "hints" at the bottom was a benefit not a negative.
If you want to check out how our book came out, you can see it at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/strollin-little-baby-owen/id550867985?ls=1
Good luck with your book. It's great to see more books available for kids by a wider range of authors / languages.
I'll try to make some points here, in a professional perspective.
I'm a national book award (6 books) illustrator and graphic designer. I've done more than 30 books, so I know about the topic. A little.
1. When you talk about an illustrated book, the first thing that comes to mind is for children. BUT, there's also illustrated book for adults, like professional photography books, comics, even portfolios. I do books and I read them. Me, personally, will hate to see thumbnails of a professional portfolio, because those are planned very carefully. On the other hand, you could find great use for thumbnails when you're enjoying, let's say, the graphic evolving of a famous artist: that way you can come back easily, compare styles, how they evolved, changed, progressed... What I'm trying to say here is this: thumbnails should be OPTIONAL.
2. A good designer would try to assimilate this "iconic resource" to their design. In some projects you could find is useful. In others, it's just a **** nuisance. So, again: it should be OPTIONAL.
3. Some of the books I did are educational. Even though we all know we sneaked our books when we were children (and now too), I wouldn't like the student's go ahead of their tasks because they have access to results thanks to the darn thumbnails. So, in this case (that should be OPTIONAL -again-), will help teachers to be very punctual about the thumbnails they want (like the first page of the chapter, or the exercise but not the answer...), but the problem is that this kind of "help" could be a big problem.
4. To convert a paperback into a digital book. ****.. If you already have this gorgeous real book, when you try to adapt it to digital format.... stupid, STUPID thumbnails. They are ugly. They are just there, showing you everything, spoiling the surprise, screwing the original design. Let's make it simple: you already now that graphics helps you out to built some personality. It's not the same a geek boy than a burlesque woman. Try to imagine to build a concept for the geek boy, and you certainly will find thumbnails useful. Try to make an art nouveau burlesque moulin rouge style, and this elements will look awkward. Or to not making it sexy: if you're making a wonderful story for kids about pirates, and maps, and treasures, hiden stories inside other stories, this thumbnails are totally ruin the experience.
5. Some months ago my bigger problem was that I was trying to adapt this thin real (paper) book. Indesing (the logical program for a professional) didn't work for me. So I tried other dumb apps. So then Apple came with IBA. Didn't worked either (because it forced me to work with both vertical and horizontal formats: AND IT SHOULD BE OPTIONAL! as it is now, luckily!). So I tried Pages. Didn't work. So my iTunes tells me that IBA have changed something and that now I can make "Portrait books" only, and I threw a party. Well: thumbnails are ruin my book, the script and the personality of the story. TOTALLY. So IBA still doesn't work.
If I dare to assume good reasons for the thumbnails to be there forever and ever, is that Apple actually say they did this App for teachers, basically. Teachers and professors could design their classes, send this short interactive books to their students, and actually, that makes sense. If I dare to assume more, Apple is not paying any real attention to other publics. Maybe they don't want "wannabe writers" to have professional options (though they say opposite), I don't know.
So basically my message here for Apple is: even a professional find this thumbnails awkward and useless and ugly. I don't want them in my book, they totally ruin the design and the personality. As a professional I can say to all of you that there is NOT A SINGLE APP in the marked (free or costing you $500) that doesn't make it ridiculously hard to make just a simple illustrated book. If is not about the orientation (vertical or horizontal) is the font. Or the exporting files. Or the cover. Or the background. Or the page numbers you can't delete. Or the thumbnails. Or to allow the reader to change the fonts. Or the program to resize a perfectly designed book.
As you can see, there are many, MANY issues they have to solve yet. I understand that thumbnails are a useful resource, but ONLY if you want them (it's like been full of food and yet be force to eat desert: you'll not enjoy it. Actually, you'll hate it). So in the meantime, I'll have to pay a programmer to make an app for a free "book" that doesn't even have any sounds or interaction whatsoever, just because Apple is one of those who doesn't understand that sometimes a simple book is better than an interactive book. Some projects ASKS YOU THAT. Conclusion: totally ridiculous!
Please excuse my English, and I hope you understand my point here. Basically: thumbnails should be optional!
p.s.: thanks (Apple) for changing the horizontal and vertical issue and the fonts issue . Now you can work on A BLANK TEMPLATE (woaaaaa, that would totally rock and it's like totally crazy!) and making thumbnails optional!
There is a brilliant picture book called "My Favourite Monsters" which has been created using ibooks author. It has only just become available on the ibookstore aswell and includes tons of interactive features which include having each page read out to you with the touch of a button, also loads of fun sounds for you and you're children to explore as you can touch each monster and they talk to you, its great. Not forgetting to mention the interactive games and drawing activities which are built directly into the book using ibooks author's amazing html widget! Honestly its a must buy and at the introductory price of just 99p, its a must have ibook especially if you have little ones between the ages of 6-12.
The perfect analogy is that you designed a lets say pink theme for your child's party and your catering company although they delivered the healthy food you wanted, only had green plates as an option. Yes the kids will not notice and will still eat the healthy food, but now your aesthetics is ruined. The party no longer looks the way you wanted, silly for some, but I agree it could be very annoying since it affects the way you want your product presented.
I'm fighting my way through this process right now. (See: http://bit.ly/YkkOli) It's not an easy path to travel, but it is possible. There are examples of successful children's picture ebooks with interactive elements on the store now (see "Animals Around the World" by E3 as an example).
So far, the basics haven't been too bad. Pictures, embedded video, audio clips, etc. Where we've run into boatloads of trouble is when we try to go beyond that into interactive HTML widgets for things like games, activities, etc. We've spent a lot of time doing very creative things like puzzles, memory games, magic coloring books, etc., and have yet to make it through all of the technical issues that we've run into. That being said, if you want a picture ebook (as opposed to an app) and want an interactive experience, IBA and ibooks is really your only choice at this point. Other platforms don't support the capabilities of EPUB3 well enough yet. Even the latest Amazon Kindle KF8 format barely, and I do mean barely, supports fixed format picture books. There is no interactivity, no audio, no video possible. Pretty lame really.
Finally, if you're moving down the interactive picture ebook route, keep in mind that things are getting pretty sketchy at this point on older hardware (like iPad v1). The memory requirements of ibooks rendering an interactive picture ebook seem to really stretch the limits of the 1st generation devices, and often the user experience seems to REALLY suffer, primarily in the form very slow performance, crashes, and freezes. I put a warning on my books so that readers know what to expect.
We're pressing on with our own titles, but it's been a painful experience at times, to say the least, and we've not made it through our first title. Good luck!
Our book has sliding puzzles, links to our website (so kids can send an email to the main character). Our book is in text (English), audio when the button is pushed (we didn't want to do the auto read, some kids prefer to try to read the page then choose when to listen to the audio read aloud. And we added video (American Sign Language).
We are now making an ePub version of our book. iBA doesn't allow books to be read on an iPad or an iPod. An ePub will allow that. So, for us, it was worth it for the publisher to spend the time to make it into an ePub (which also means we can publish the book on other platforms as well).
We've gotten lots of good responses about the sliding puzzles in the book. I would definitely recommend the puzzles (the code we used was from another website). The link to this website is inside the book under the credits.
Good luck. If you have any questions, feel free to email us.Our iBA version, "Strollin' with Little Baby Owen" at bit.ly/TkGmup
or the very long actual address: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/strollin-little-baby-owen/id550867985?ls=1
I agree the rows of thumbnails look awful. So in my picture/video book "Amazing Insect Inventions" aimed at children I created a "notrmal" TOC which is linked from the first TOC thumbnail. I believe this gives the reader the best of both worlds. The book was accepted into the iBook store first go even with this altered TOC.