Saturday, November 6, 2010

Book bigot

On Friday, during the last block of the day, I was walking around, straightening chairs, with my iPad tucked under my arm. A group of students, seated in a circle in our comfy chairs, asked about the iPad and if they could play with it a bit. I said sure, handed it over, and after about 10 minutes cycled back to see what they thought.

We talked about gaming, some of the apps, and then about what it was like to "really" read digitally. Like a novel. Like, real reading, not school reading. (Hmm. That was an interesting comment.) I took the opportunity to introduce my favorite topic at the moment, ePub. I showed them the conference notes that I had transformed into an ebook and uploaded to iBook. We looked at the text to speech and other accessibility features, notes and bookmarking, and talked about how teachers could create their own digital textbooks using material they had already created. It was a great discussion.

And then one of the boys asked "But Mrs. Cicchetti, won't you miss books?" He held up a worn paperback he had been reading, flipped the pages against his cheek, and said "I'd miss doing this. I'd miss holding it in my hands like this."

It was an interesting moment. He sounded like many people my age who wax on about their attachment to the physical book. I wondered, at that moment, if my bias toward digital text wasn't, perhaps, a form of bigotry against the traditional book. Am I a book bigot? 

Or have I taken on the role of digital crusader because it takes that degree of energy and focus to shift the entrenched cult of THE BOOK? 

This article from The Guardian made me think about the conversation today.
Is the ebook the new hardback? | Books |

"As e-readers move towards the mainstream, publishers' increasing interest in web-first publishing could leave luddites waiting up to six months longer than the cool kids to read their favourite author's latest novel."

Web-first publishing, the well documented rise in eBook and ereader sales and the ready access to free and accessible (text-to-speech, etc.) books all mean the emotional connection to THE BOOK might be holding this student back. 

I am so excited about our Kindle pilot. I am so energized about ePub and the implications for learning and providing students with the skills to access quality content that is becoming more ubiquitous by the day.

This book bigot is, indeed, on a crusade. I won't be ripping books out of the hands of children, but I look forward to the day when I can put an e-reader in their other hand and guarantee their understanding and skills in this evolving literacy landscape.

Day 6

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Blogger The Luddite said...

I adore my e-reader and am really irked when the book I want is not accessible in an e-format. "What is wrong with that publisher" I mentally snort. I look at the clutter of books on my bedstand. These are the books I am not actively reading but are the books I will turn to, gratefully, mid winter when we lose power and the battery dies in my e-reader. All of this coming someone who adores the heft, feel and scent of a new book.

November 6, 2010 at 9:44 AM  

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