The End is not Nigh

 

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Why do we have to be seen to be choosing between hardcopy or digital texts?

I have heard many comments both for and against.

The positives I often hear are that e-readers are light and easy to use, can store many books on the device, can be accessed on many other devices such as tablets and a lot of schools and public libraries have e-books that can be borrowed.

The negatives are along the lines of you can’t cuddle up with an e-reader, what do you do if you run out of charge and I just don’t like reading on screen.

I have noticed in the school I work in that there really is a split between positive and negative e-book readers. This split isn’t at an adult level, rather it’s the students, especially for leisure reading. For the students there seems to be an anecdotal feeling that they just feel more secure with a hardcopy book.

A few years back there was a doom and gloom prediction that the dawn of the digital book was going to put a nail in the coffin of                  hardcopy published books. This was a knee jerk reaction to the             unknown. Recently a major bookshop chain in the United Kingdom       announced that it would stop selling e-readers in their stores. This     decision is a direct result of the range of devices that can be used to read e-books. To me this is a good sign as it means that the devices we do have, such as tablets, are incorporating technology that not so long ago needed their own dedicated device, making devices truly              multifunctional. This functionality needs to be harnessed by                     publishers, authors, educators and the wider community.

When I attended a few different conferences a couple of years ago, publishers and authors would talk about the current concerns and the legalities that were causing blockages to the rise of the digital book, but there was an acknowledgement of the potential of digital books. These concerns are now being studied and recently Macquarie             University released a briefing report in which authors identified that traditional publishing was still the most common, followed by digital publishing. Some authors are embracing the digital and are playing with the potential affordances for their readers such as Shaun Tan’s app for the book Rules of Summer. It was with some naïve amazement, to me, that this year’s Children’s Book Council of Australia included a digital book, Audacity by Carlie Walker, on the shortlist. What a positive step this is for the validation of the form, to have the major                  publicly  acknowledged children’s book organisation in Australia take the brave step to include a non-traditional format in the awards process.

Those of us in school libraries need to take note and modify our        practices to adjust to this digital potential of books. I have been            purchasing for the school library, for the past few years a range of       fiction and non-fiction books plus online subscription services. I have to admit that it has not been totally successful for fiction reading, but students, especially senior students like that they have access to           library books and resources on a 24/7 basis. My mission is to continue to support and promote digital books with my whole school                 community and to take note of the research that is beginning to appear that will aid a positive transition to an increased use of this part of the school library collection. One example is the research from New            Zealand that showed that when youth select books traditionally they browse the bookshop or the library for a book that draws                      their attention, not too different to my own adult selection behaviour (Cunningham, 2011). I need to take this information and adapt my          promotion to make it more visually stimulating and hopefully this will lead to the students, who many would refer to as digital natives, to take the next step and try reading a digital book for pleasure.

References

Cunningham, S. J. (2011). How children find books for leisure reading: Implications for the digital library. JCDL ’11 Proceedings of the 11th annual international ACM/IEEE joint conference on Digital libraries (pp. 431-432). New York: ACM. doi:10.1145/1998076.1998170

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2 thoughts on “The End is not Nigh”

  1. Just as in the quote from Patricia Pledger (2004) in your Back to the Future blog, technologies have continued to grow and literature is promoted more via electronic means. Whilst I love to go to my local book store and peruse the shelves, I also enjoy logging into my favourite online book stores to see what is new. Generally books are released simultaneously on a particular release date therefore apart from the cost factor, there really is no benefit to purchasing new books online versus in store. For me, the major benefit of buying ebooks is that they are easily portable and I can carry hundreds of books with me whilst taking up minimal space. This space-saving device is wonderful when packing to travel on holidays however, there is nothing quite like the feeling of turning the pages and watching your progression from chapter to chapter.
    My Mother used to say “there’s a time and a place for everything” and I believe it true of the book and the e-reader. I cannot imagine sitting on the side of my child’s bed and reading a story from an e-reader. Can you imagine the outcome should the wi-fi be out or the reader isn’t charged? Picture books are a wonderful way to engage a child in reading and whilst there are many picture books available on iPad, there is a rich education to be had as you flick through the pages of a book.

    As you mentioned, keeping abreast of the happenings in a digital world is difficult and like the concept of book trailers, if you teach one thing and teach it well, it will help you not to get flustered with trying to keep up with everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In my opinion there is always a place for modern technology and I am afraid that eBooks are part of this modern technology. I love watching the children at one of the schools I work, taking out their Ipads and reading a novel that they downloaded. Last week was a week full of assessment tasks for these students and once they finished they were given the option to read or work on their “reading eggs” tasks. Either way they were using their Ipads and were engaging with literacy. I had no issue with them engaging with literacy in whatever form. Ofcourse they used their downloaded versions. On the opposite side of the spectrum though, the feel of the pages of a book, the smell of a new book and the interest that a hardcover book creates (especially with the little ones) can’t go unmentioned. I love hardcover books and take the opportunity to read to the students as often as possible.

      Liked by 1 person

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