I have to start this post with a quote:
we have to get real about the fact that business models need to change as more and more readers want to read in digital formats rather than print. . . the technology isn’t quite there yet to produce digital products that are genuinely satisfying.
I hear you , sister! Though editor Jane Morrow was specifically referring to illustrated books in her post I am wondering how satisfied I really am with my new e-book reader. I feel like I’m wading through a swamp of blind ignorance right about now. Little bit my own fault for trusting the guy at the shop to answer honestly when I asked “which one’s the best?”
But what’s all this hate I’m hearing about Amazon? Is it because, like me, people have downloaded their free sample of Ethereal to find they can only read it on a Kindle or PC or iPhone – which is simply not what the new owner of a Sony eReader wants to hear. (if you know the real answer feel free to leave a comment)
And it’s not just Amazon that’s losing the love. Johnathan Franzen goes so far as to say that eBooks as a collective are damaging society. Sounds a bit pesimistic to me. Here’s his argument. He prefers traditional paper books because they, apparently, still work even if you spill water on them. That’s not actually true. A book only still works if the cover is closed when the water is spilled (or the 21 month old vomits on it as she demonstrated on my street atlas yesterday morning. Disgusting? You didn’t have to clean it up!). And a book also has a limited book:water tolerance. Drop a book in the bath and you can kiss goodbye to Gatsby.
I have also heard the argument that they are inaccessible. Granted, Readers are still out of reach for a lot of people. There is a current thread on the CBCA NSW Facebook page in which TLs are bemoaning schools who favour electronic factual resources over moth food. I agree that we need to be cautious of inequitable access to information, but that’s why school and community libraries are so awesome. Anyone, yes anyone, can join the library for free. Everyone can use the internet for free. I predict that reasonably soon you will be able to borrow a Reader if you don’t have one. At my new local library they have these tiny MP3 players (correct name currently forgotten) you can borrow and listen to with a talking book preloaded. All you need is a library card and a set of headphones.
Yes, one’s own eReader is an investment, though Franzen also questions their longevity compared to the traditional dead tree stock. So were cars and mobile phones once upon a time. Oh, and so were books in the 14th Century.
I believe that the eBook reader is here to stay – whether in its current form or preferably one that I can actually USE! If only those who could afford their own were allowed to play and learn that really would be unethical.
We can’t let our fear prevent us from teaching the next generation how to use what is frankly a much more exciting way of communicating.
Ok, ok, I know. We can’t let our fear prevent us from learning from the next generation.
So, little help? Please . . .
PS Wanna read something that really is concerning? Follow this link: