Monday, May 2, 2011

National Children's Book Week -- Going Digital!

In the article "Reaching the E-Teen" in Publisher's Weekly (February 21, 2011) Karen Springen explores how teens are adapting to e-readers. It may be surprising to learn that 80% of teens still prefer print copies of their favorite titles. In the age of texting, tagging and tweeting, one would think that e-readers would be the next big "thing" with teens. It's not. At least not for the moment. What is keeping teens from making that technological jump into the digital pool? The big five letter word that everyone wants more of but in a sagging economy, very few have a lot of it. MONEY.

With that said, will e-readers ever take off with teens or transitional generation? More than likely yes. More and more YA titles will become available in digital forms, not only that, as with all technology, there will be a time when the price of e-readers will go down and it will become more affordable. In a previous post, the suggestion that e-readers will be likely die off was met with strong comments to the effects that the post was not dealing with reality. The reality is this: as stated previously, if the e-reader is only going to allow for digital downloads from sites like, Overdrive and Amazon, then it will be the end of the e-reader. If however e-reader users will be able to use it socially or use the device for other uses like the iPad allows than there is a chance for survival. The Kobo e-reader's Reading Life allows users to post updates on what they are reading and share excerpts from the book with fellow Kobo users. Are we not that far long from conducting book discussions via e-readers? Not really. The technology is in place, now it has to bee tweaked.

Picture books have made their way to the iPad with much success. These books suffer the same fate as the Young Adult titles. While most parents believe it is a good idea to purchase new technology which will prepare their child for the school years to come, the thought of spending $499 dollars for one device makes it a luxury not a need for most households. Working with the iPad's digital picture book is a treat because the colors are indeed vibrant. However, the print version of the books are just as vibrant as the digital. Sharing the e-reader is difficult, but not impossible. Most librarians have found that the e-readers are easier to hold up when reading stories to a group. However, for one on one reading, it is not as easy as sharing a print copy. (On a side note, for disabled children, this device may be perfect for them in that it is easy to turn the page, and the bright colors attract their attention. This is a discussion for another day.) Perhaps, this is one of the many reasons why publishers will be offering all types of formats for the growing readers to choose from in the years to come.

In the future, National Children's book week will still be around to celebrate great children's literature and authors. However, it just may be that the book of tomorrow will be digital with the "feel" of a traditional book. That should take the guilt away from teens who feel its "sacrilegious" to read off of a e-reader, (see PW article mentioned above). Which ever way children read books in the future, the main objective will remain "every child a reader" This is why we celebrate this week. Reading is too important of a skill to take for granted. As for this librarian, this week's celebration will include sharing a new favorite with little ones. Carroll's The Boy and the Moon is a delightful read and at the moment not available in digitally. That's okay, I'm sure the children won't mind a bit!
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