The demise of the printed acim has has been foretold for decades and each new advance in technology sees the predicted death of the paperback. Television, video, CD, the internet… all were heralded as the harbingers of doom for the novel.
However, the traditional book that we all know and love continues to enthrall each new generation.
So what does this new E-Book reader mean for children’s books?
Will this really be the end?
I think not. Paper books are so easy to read in bed, on the beach, up a tree… in fact anywhere you can go, the book can go to. You can flick through the pages, scribble in the margins, on the flyleaf, get them autographed, sniff the aroma of print and paper… even ( I hate to admit this, but it was my favourite snack as a kid) rip the corners off and chew them. (I recently learnt my brothers did this too. Our house was full of half eaten books. Must have been something in the water or the genes.) However, a good E-Book reader is long overdue. E-books have the great advantages of being downloadable straight from your computer and can be stored in considerable numbers in a small space. For kids who love technology but are reluctant to read a book, the E-book is a great innovation. Parents wanting to encourage their children to read no longer have to do battle with the computer. They can simply buy a CD or download an E-book direct for their children to read on their PC or the new Sony Reader.
The great thing about this new E-Book reader is the excellence of the visual display. Previous models have been hard on the eyes. This is as easy to read as traditional print. In fact, you can adjust the size of the text, so for the visually impaired, or those with tired eyes, it is easier. Throw those thick glasses or magnifiers away! You can also store hundreds of books in a device no being than the average hard cover. Great for taking on holiday. Especially with the increasing meanness of airlines with their baggage allowance. If you are like me, with half your luggage allowance taken up with books, the E-book reader is a Godsend. I am sure the printed book will continue to live happily side by side with this latest development, just as it has survived all the miracles of invention of previous decades.
However, the new E-book reader does offer an alternative.
For authors like me, who have already brought out novels for children on E-book, this new development is very exciting. I published my magical mysteries for children aged 8-12 as E-Books, with 3 on each CD, a few years ago. The criticism has always been that no one wants to read a novel on the computer. Now this does not apply. Your new E-Book reader is as comfortable to hold on the sofa as a paperback, and if anything, easier on the eyes. Kids are born to the new technology which we adults struggle to master. The traditional book will thrive and prosper in this new techno age. Indeed the success of Amazon shows the internet may have changed the face of publishing but has certainly not killed the book.