Will eBooks Create An Elite Reading Class?

Sound words by New York Times bestselling author, Karin Slaughter, at the Huffington Post: Will eBooks Create An Elite Reading Class?
"...access to the written word equals access to opportunity. If there is still an American dream, reading is one of the bootstraps by which we can all pull ourselves up."

"On one hand, here is a device that can put a limitless supply of books at your fingertips. On the other hand, here is a device that is so expensive that only a select few can afford it. It seems to me that with digitized books, we are taking a giant leap into the past, when access to literature was available only to those of means."
     You all know I have embraced the idea of iPhone Picture Book Apps, but I want to be very clear that I NEVER want us to do away with printed books. There is a very important role for physical books that electronic media will never be able to replace. Ever. Whether that be a book-mobile in the Appalachians or a Camel Book Drive in Kenya. Some places just aren't appropriate for eBooks.
     So while we embrace this technology, I sincerely hope we don't do it at the expense of our roots.

My comment at the Huffington Post:
As a children’s book author/illustrator and creator of an iPhone picture book app (Lula’s Brew) I have found myself, unexpectedly, in the middle of those who embrace eBooks and the nay-sayers. eBooks are great on the fly, especially for children, but they are not ideal in all situations. Therefore, I do not believe eBooks will usurp physical books. Much as you sometimes prefer a movie in a real theater vs. your home, an eBook is simply another option - albeit a pricey one. I am excited by the possibilities the electronic format presents as a creator. However, I hope we never lose our roots - the printed book. For there is still a need despite the disturbing idea of a University library getting rid of books to make room for computers and coffee. Reading must start somewhere and to my mind, a love for reading starts with physical books - opportunities open from there.

The good news is people ARE reading. The National Endowment for the Arts recently reported that Reading is on the Rise for the first time since they started tracking the statistics. Why? Because with emails, texting, and social networking, we are becoming a reading society. We’re just reading in different ways.

I’m excited about these new ways to share my stories - and to enjoy them. Although, I regret the polarization eBooks are creating as I believe keeping ALL reading options vibrant and available to ALL people will have the most positive impact on our society.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

1 comment:

Mike Tackett said...

I read your interview at Rhodesoft and this follow-up blog article with great interest. While I agree that as an invention, books have yet to meet their match, ebooks do have the potential to shake up business-as-usual. At the moment, the industry still needs to overcome technical hurdles (what's with all these conflicting formats, anyway....) and a successful business model (does everyone really want to pay $500 for a basic iPad?). On the other hand, remember what happened to CD stores when Apple came out with iPod and launched iTunes -- I remember, but that pretty well dates me. Fortunately, CDs (and videos) don't offer the same compelling reasons to survive as books, but if prices come down, watch out. For example, I foresee the day when newspapers -- struggling these days to stay alive -- will offer free ebooks to have people lock in to annual (or multi year) subscriptions. That may save newspapers -- and surely, someone will come up with something similar for books (ebook of the month club, anyone?).

Me, I'm hoping ebooks will save my bacon, since I'm focusing on creating animated & interactive content. Not quite the same thing as a well told story, but makes for great bells and whistles. Ah, technology.... :-)