Blogger: Etta Wilson
Location: Books & Such Nashville Office
Weather: Hot and muggy
A recent quote in Newsweek from Anna Quindlen caught my eye: “Well, what is a book really? Is it its body or its soul?” I think that was her way of asking the question many of us have about the relationship between content and format. The two have been considered one for so long. Reading automatically meant holding and turning bound pages, but that was before the digital age. This revolution is certainly noticeable in the area of kids’ publishing.
We’ve had electronic gadgets related to kids’ book content, usually called “novelties,” and in some kind of book format with page-turning features for some time. Remember the Play-a-Tune books of the 1980s? But the web has brought newer interactive digital formats onscreen into existence. Quoting from an article entitled, “Technology Alters Concept of Literary,” from an LA Times article: “Sound, animation and the ability to connect to the Internet have created the notion of a living book that can establish an entirely new kind of relationship with readers.”
“Living book”–now there’s a great phrase. It is this relationship with readers made possible electronically that is so astounding and so breathtakingly new for those of us who think of reading as turning pages. The texting, chatting, YouTubing kids of today will expect a different kind of connection with the content that enters their consciousness. They will associate new information and entertainment with moving sound and color as much as text in fixed format on a page of paper.
This is not alarming to me, even though I’ve been looking at words in type on pages for years. Why? Because I see so many options for resurrecting great art and stories of past generations and keeping them alive online for kids today. We all know the sadness of discovering a bound book has gone “out of print,” but the electronic book is more accessible for infinitely longer–or at least as long as we have a power base for our computers. I also see an expanding world of listening opportunities for the blind as Intel and Amazon convert text into speech immediately available through computers.
Ask any children in your life where they access their reading material: libraries, computer, physical books, etc.