Board books are almost always small and made of cardboard. Their covers can be flat or puffy or shaped like something. They can be stories (basically small versions of regular picture books) but they are also often concept books or novelty books. Subspecies:
- CONCEPT BOOKS are board books that teach about things like ABC, 123, Up/Down, Colors, Animals, etc. in an extremely simple way.
- NOVELTY BOOKS have some sort of special interactive element like lift-the-flap, textured touch-and-feel, sliding panels, a spinning wheel, etc.
- Written by the artist (so they only have to pay one person)
- Written in-house with an artist hired on a work-for-hire basis (so they only
have to pay one person, and that, usually for much less than for regular picture books), or better yet, written AND designed in-house, AND/OR
- Branded "spin offs" of existing popular picture book characters (like OLIVIA COUNTS or CURIOUS GEORGE COLOR FUN kind of thing), OR
- Board book versions of existing picture books (in other words, the SAME ALREADY SUCCESSFUL BOOK, just shrunk).
If you are a terrific artist/designer, and you have an awesome idea for a fun baby book or set of novelty books, there is a (slim) possibility you might break in this way. As an author who is NOT an artist, though, I'd think it would be VERY DIFFICULT INDEED to sell your text as a board book.
Not impossible, I suppose. Almost nothing is impossible, and there may be exceptions to every rule. But as the dear departed Editorial Anonymous said in her post on the subject (which explains what I just explained but in an even clearer way):
"Take my advice and don't present a manuscript as a board book just because you think it'd be cuter that way. Starting a book off as a hardcover picture book is always more profitable for the publisher, which means the acquisition pulls more weight for the editor, the book gets more attention, and it's more profitable for you."
* ETA: I stand corrected! I couldn't think of any board book originals, but the lovely Emily Jenkins reminds me that she wrote an original board book series, "Bea and Haha", illustrated by Tomek Bogacki - sadly out of print, though. And Laurel Snyder wrote one "Nosh Schlep Schluff" - but there were special circumstances. And Lawrence Schimel has a series called "Little Pirate" from Innovative Kids. But I still say these are highly unusual in the board book realm.