Blog > Meet Mark Gray, Owner Of Watadventure
November 26, 2016
Watadventure is a publishing company that specialises in producing personalised children?s books with custom avatars and tailored elements to incorporate any child into the book and story itself.
The idea for Watadventure stemmed from my personal experience of owning a printing and binding company, as well as my expertise and knowledge in how digital printing has progressed over the years. From my experience, children are more likely to be interested if they?re actually involved somehow; the most popular books have always transported the reader to a place full of fantasy and excitement. As technology progresses, we now have the ability to give every child the chance to star in our stories. We saw this as an opportunity, since there?s nothing on the market that fully does this, and ran with it.
There?s something magical in creating something. In printing, we receive a plain file and the end product always ends up being something exciting that the person hoped it would be but we are detached from it emotionally. This can sometimes be emotional for that individual as it?s taken a long time to get to that point of holding what was once a dream, it then becomes beautiful. I have always enjoyed reading, and books have been around for hundreds of years. We?re in a privileged position of helping it to evolve once more. The thought of taking my idea to create my very own book and at the same time do my bit to evolve the book from its current state was exciting, to be able to help people take that book and create something of their very own and make it so personal that they have characteristics, as well as the name of their child, is even more so. I truly hope these books will be around long enough for today?s children to share with their own children in the future. To feel that I have played a part in that cycle is a special privilege.
I knew that if I was going to take on the challenge of creating my own book from scratch, I?d need to look into the logistics and possible limitations to ensure it was done properly. A problem associated with personalised books is that they?re printed as one-offs, and only certain machines can give you the quality and flexibility you need. As a starting point, I fixated on the actual size of the book, ensuring that it was big enough for children to handle in all situations, such as in a bed and on the floor, but mainly be comfortable enough for themselves, and their parents, to hold. I then focused on the personalisation of the front, back and spine of the book itself ? something that would be handy for when further adventures are released in the future. Next steps included the contacting of various authors to find the perfect words for my story that best suited the feeling I wanted to come across in my book. Once the story was tested in nurseries and finalised, I then discovered Ilana, a very talented illustrator who I asked to be a part of the Watadventure business going forward. She loved the idea of her work being featured within a book and all credit to her, she stuck with the influx of work to create a wonderfully bright and exciting book that?s totally unique.
I don?t really know where the idea for the story came from; it was just there one day! This being said however, I do wonder if my memories of watching Mr Benn as a child had something to do with it. I think an idea for a story just happens and, as you think about it more, it expands into something more.
Watabus is the first book in the Watadventure series. The story starts and ends inside a child?s den, leaving you at the end wondering was it real or just a part of your imagination? Within the story, the bus and its conductor transport you to a world of imagination whilst you?re travelling to India. Here, you?ll have the opportunity to meet the native animals as well as experience the culture of the street markets and other main attractions, giving you a true taste of what life?s like on the other side of the world.
Watadventure books are a great gift for children, whatever the occasion; each book is personalised and not only to be enjoyed by the child themselves, but the parents who are sure to have fun creating their very own story via the website. The books are also a great solution for children who aren?t naturally drawn to reading.
As a brand, we want to bring joy to children through literacy and to do this, we like to host events and partner up with relevant charities; we think it?s important to give back. Recently, we partnered up with Once Upon A Smile, a local charity that assists bereaving families, as well as Rainbow Trust, a national charity that supports families with children who suffer from a life threatening or terminal illness. We provide a financial contribution to both organisations with every Watadventure book sold. We chose these charities in recognition of the hard work they do and the difference they make to the people they help.
Yes, we have many stories in the pipeline to give children the chance to see further countries and sights of the world. We?re working on our next Watadventure book, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled.
I want to take the book as far as it can go and, as a further development, I?m looking into the possibility of augmented reality where characters come out of the page with the use of a smartphone or tablet. My ultimate dream would be to have stores where people could go to experience virtual reality, creating characters of themselves and putting them into the stories as well as printing the books there and then. Alas, I have to take one step at a time but dreams are meant for chasing into reality, so watch this space.