[LMB] why we still need paper books

Carol Cooper carolcooper at shaw.ca
Mon Sep 19 17:00:41 BST 2011

SueN wrote
> Who doesn't believe in coincidence??I was thinking stuff like this just
> today as I cycled home from work. Unfortunately I was also thinking that
> unfortunately the direction of publishing is?likely to be defined by those
> that buy the full priced product, rather than social issues like this.?
> ?
> Sue N
> From: Meg Justus mmegaera at nwlink.com
> http://seanan-mcguire.livejournal.com/390067.html
> She's got this so right.

It's funny how topics seem to crop up at the same time on the list and in
other areas of my life.  We got into the religious debate at the same time
as I was protesting about some unwelcome and unprofessional intrusions of
religion into my work environment.  Now we're into why we need paper books,
which is another hot topic with me at present, with particular reference to

I work with a children's publishing company, and I was asked recently
whether ebooks made me concerned for the future of our business.  My
immediate reaction was 'of course not', but then I had to reflect and
justify my reaction, and debated the issue with some of my colleagues.  We
decided the answer came on two different levels.  

Firstly, there's the purely practical level.  For the present at least,
e-books don't support the level of illustration you expect in picture books
for young children, and even if they did, would you seriously leave your
two-year-old in possession of your iPad or Kindle?  Small kids really like
tactile books - it's important to engage as many of their senses as possible
in the reading experience.  Small kids need to learn how to handle books,
turn pages, etc, etc.  They need colouring books and dot-to-dots and doodle
books to help develop their pencil skills, etc.etc.

But then it got even more interesting.  I talked about this with a friend
who is a teacher working with a program for kids with special needs in the
speech and language development area.  She told me that they're seeing a
higher percentage every year of kids arriving in school with speech and
language delays.  The consensus in the profession is that kids simply aren't
getting read to as much as in the past - they're being parked in front of
TVs and electronic games.  Well-meaning parents are buying them
'educational' programs such as Leapfrog systems and educational software and
leaving them to amuse themselves - and it's all eroding the amount of time
that kids spend in conversation with adults.  All these electronic media are
being used as a substitute for actually spending time with their kids.
Reading with your kids is about so much more than simply sharing wonderful
stories with them - it's about building speech and language skills through
conversation, and building their phonemic awareness ready for learning to
read.  And the best way to motivate kids to learn to read is to have them
see reading as a fun and desirable skill - and there's no better way to do
that than curling up with your child and a good book and sharing that
special time together.

So, that's my current soapbox.  Personally, I'm an unabashed fan of
dead-tree books and am unlikely at this stage to be converted to e-books,
but when it comes to kids there are some very compelling reasons to continue
to treasure real, paper books (and cloth books, and board books, and......).


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