Growing Up with E-Books

Pie charts showing results of survey


In our last post, we looked at a recent study by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center that found that children prefer e-books to print books, and that enhanced e-books may hinder reading comprehension. This got us wondering: How do kids really feel about reading books on tablets and e-readers? Li’l Robin conducted our own informal, highly unscientific survey of students in a mixed class of second and third graders at a public school in New York’s West Village. (Full disclosure: Our own little robin is enrolled in the class.)

Today’s kids are growing up reading in a period of remarkable transition. They have parents who still like to read to them from printed books; at the same time, children are now accustomed to interacting with screens, and reading a book from an electronic device is not a novelty.

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An Interactive Experience in Print

E-books are fast becoming a favorite of adult readers, and a new study by the Sesame Workshop’s Joan Ganz Cooney Center has found that children now prefer e-books to printed books as well. But the study also concludes that children have a very different experience reading enhanced e-books—those with added interactivity like games and video—that can possibly hinder reading comprehension and retention. In this issue of ‘Round Robin, we take a look at a series of books we’ve designed for children that uses a more traditional interactive format—the printed page.

Published by Sterling, the “Inside” series of books explains the workings of natural science—biology, geology, astronomy—for an audience of young readers ages 8 to 12. We worked with the publisher on a redesign of the popular series, including new titles Inside Weather, Inside Earthquakes, Inside Lightning and Inside Volcanoes.

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Bringing Photography to Life

“Print is dead” is something every designer and publisher has heard the past few years. But we’ve been working with one of publishing’s most famous brands on a series of books that proves the print format still has “life” in it yet.

As publishing undergoes enormous change, LIFE has reinvigorated its brand by extending its legendary photographic legacy into a series of image-driven books. The magazine that documented the 20th century in iconic photographs has become a series of timely titles that are enormously popular with readers, proving that while many people now experience the world online, they are still turning to print for a definitive take.

Since 2009, we have worked with LIFE Books to design several of the publisher’s titles. The books tell stories through images, often pulling photography from the extensive Time & Life Pictures collection. Each book maintains the iconic LIFE brand but creates a unique setting for the subject. The design elements are carefully coordinated to establish a framework that makes the images the focus, bringing the brilliant photography to “life.”

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Taking a project cross-platform

Our projects at Li’l Robin cover the distance between print and digital, and with advances in digital publishing, frequently involve both. Li’l Robin recently collaborated with Strategic Design Studio to develop an iPad app prototype for its client Kaiser Permanente, the healthcare consortium. SDS designed the company’s 2010 annual report and wanted to show its client a new way to approach its 2011 annual report: producing a printed report in conjunction with an iPad app.

We based the design of the app on the printed piece, but added platform-specific interactivity that expanded the experience, including audio (a message from the CEO), video, slideshows, and interactive charts with additional information.

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Introducing Li’l Robin

We are pleased to announce that Anke Stohlmann Design is now Li’l Robin.

Li’l Robin is a strategic design consultancy specializing in branding and publishing. We create brand identity systems, books, magazines, brochures, websites and mobile applications.

Our work frequently involves design of the written word, and this helped inspire our new name. Li’l Robin is taken from the traditional English rhyme, “Little Robin Redbreast,” and reflects our fondness for wordplay, love of reading, and all-around appreciation of a good sense of fun.

Think of us as a little bird, guiding you through the design process. With an eye for detail, we work with you to craft the best solution, from concept to launch. We take the long view, developing identities and publications across multiple platforms, with an emphasis on making the transition from print to digital. And we work on the wing, forming flexible teams according to the specific needs of the project at hand.

With our name change we’ve launched a new website. Please feel free to check out our work at We believe the best ideas come out of communication, and we’d love to hear from you.

We would like to thank all the clients who have worked with us over the years, and we look forward to collaborating with you soon.