With the prices of e-books dropping almost every week, bloggers, journalists, bookworms and booksellers from around the world debate, discuss and analyze the “future of books.”
One of the major arguments that I hear in the e-book v. real book debate is “I like the feel of a real book in my hands.” That makes complete sense and is justifiable for every person in my generation and those generations prior.
As a millennial (born 1983 thank you very much), I didn’t grow up with as much exposure to technology as today’s children do. Access the Internet on your phone? The Internet wasn’t even available for consumer use on computers before I turned 13. I saw and experienced first hand the evolution of music downloads from Napster, to LimeWire, to Bit Torrents while in college.
When I was growing up, I had no choice but to turn to the tangible books. Books that I could check out from the library, read on the way home, smell, touch and toss around. Today’s children have too many options. They are already assimilating their minds to small screens with massive amounts of information. Most progressive libraries have toddler computers in the children’s room, where kids as young as 6 months old can already start learning how to use a keyboard and maneuver a mouse to change the screen. Parents can plop their kids in front of the computer on websites like TumbleBooks and have the computer read and flip through the pages of picture books. Kids are growing up with so much new information thrown at them, what’s to say that they will develop the same love of real books that my generation does?
Maybe the current generation will still appreciate books they hold in their hands, chew on or carry home. What about the next generations? Will the children of the future care as much for non-electronic books?
Or maybe the issue isn’t even about the format of the written word. Literacy is literacy, whether its in a real book or an e-book. Shouldn’t educators be accepting of any new resource that promotes convenient access to classic and contemporary books? Libraries go out of their way to embrace new technology, to learn about, to learn from it and to figure out how and why it can best benefit the community.
Its equivalent to the date of MP3s versus cds. With music streaming online, people are listening to more of a diverse collection of musicians and genres than ever before, despite the slipping sales of music cds. It doesn’t seem like books are far from following in the footpaths of the music cds.
Is the value for the love of a real book more than the value of literacy itself? Do the two cancel each other out, and as long as kids are reading something, everything is OK? Can e-books and real books live happily along side each other and does it even matter if one dominates over the other?