A Contemplation of Why Paper Books Are So Important

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by lelisa13p, Nov 1, 2019.

  1. lelisa13p

    lelisa13p Your Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    I'll admit to being as fond as anyone of having dozens of books at my fingertips, stored in the Kindle app on my iPhone. The convenience is undeniable. That said, I've been increasingly unsettled by the ever-growing evidence of parents giving very young children electronic devices to use for learning to read and then for regular reading use. My inner Librarian firmly believes that uses of this method for children should be few and far between. Children are tactile creatures and paper books definitely serve them well. Board books are particularly tasty for new and early readers. :vbwink:

    There has been a growing trend in adults of recognizing the need to "unplug" from the constant pull of electronic demands, to reclaim some quiet time, to indulge a daydream, to just rest and be. I very much understand this need. Parenting also benefits from such a move. What parent hasn't spent priceless hours sitting with a child in lap, reading aloud, giving voices to the characters, as the child helps by turning the pages (sometimes before it's needed :vbsmile: ) and pointing and naming the objects pictured on the pages? Kindle reading just isn't the same. Children's books are sensory feasts; e-readers for children are fast food shortcuts.

    Just in time for Holiday Shopping, Amazon has launched a Kindle e-reader device solely designed for and devoted to children, The Kindle Kids Edition. (Link is the initial Press Release.)

    I offer you a thoughtful article from today's Washington Post. I lead you in with this:

    Sigh.
     
  2. Hook

    Hook Professional Daydreamer

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    I have discovered, to my surprise, that since retiring, my Kindle (and a lot of unread books) is collecting dust. I can't believe the pleasure I have rediscovered in reading physical books now that I am no longer commuting. It is such a different experience.

    Most of the parents I am surrounded by wouldn't think of giving their kids an electronic device to read on. Computers to explore the world and be curious, yes, but they always have real books.
     
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  3. jigwashere

    jigwashere Life is a circus!

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    I've purchased Nooks and Paperwhites for my kids over the years. They used them a bit for the novelty and convenience, but always preferred regular books. I don't see many kids using e-readers.

    Sent from my moto g(6) using Tapatalk
     
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  4. raspabalsa

    raspabalsa Brain stuck BogoMipping

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    Beautiful post, lelisa. I don't agree with all of it, though. I burned the bridge of real paper books long ago, when I started traveling regularly between several countries. I couldn't possibly bring my library with me in its original form. So I gave away all of my paper books to my kids, siblings, nephews, friends, etc. I have less than 20 paper books now, and most are kept only because they're antiques. I rebuilt most of my library in digital form over the years, and can't even think about looking for and purchasing everything yet again. I find digital books incredibly convenient. I can carry all of them everywhere with me.

    As for kids, more precisely, my kids, I took a mixed approach. I introduced them to computers and PDAs (back then phones were just that) from a very early age. At age 2 they were already banging on the keyboard. But I've also purchased dozens of paper books for them. At age 5 or 6 they started picking their own books, and at age 11 they stopped asking to go to the toy store, instead preferring the book store. They've also had reams of papers to draw, paint, cut, etc. I agree the physical contact is needed to stimulate proper development.

    My daughter devours books. She has several popular series. My son doesn't read much anymore. He's more into video games. Can't blame him, considering I'm the one who introduced him to them. :oops:

    I've tried to make my kids embrace ebooks, but with poor results. My daughter says mostly the same lelisa and Hook said above. My boy argues that his favorite authors haven't published in digital form. I wouldn't mind much, except that books in Ecuador are outrageously expensive. A single book from the "The Hunger Games" costs USD 20 translated to Spanish, and USD 30 or more in original English. I usually argue with my daughter that for the price of a single paper book I can get her 2 or 3 ebooks of the same series. Sometimes she agrees, more often she doesn't, and I have no other choice than buying the very expensive paper edition. Often I purchase books in Colombia, where they're maybe USD 5 cheaper for the same editions. I could buy from Amazon but shipping and taxes make books cost more than on the local stores. I've gone looking for used books too, but the ones my kids like are relatively new and I haven't found any yet <sigh>

    I have no problem unplugging and daydreaming whenever I feel like (just ask my boss :D). Seriously, often I put my phone away and play a mental movie. I usually change the events and outcome to better suit my mood. This way I never get bored during long waits. My kid seems to have the same gift. He can spend an hour just sitting or lying somewhere, deeply immersed in his thoughts. He always looks very relaxed after this.

    I agree that forcing digital-only reading to kids is a very bad idea, and I wouldn't consider giving very young kids an ereader. Same for drawing or painting. They need to get their hands smeared in paint or chalk or whatever to truly enjoy the experience. But I also wish paper books were more affordable down here :(
     
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  5. Mi An

    Mi An Untethered

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    J.K. Rowling refused to offer ebook versions of Potter for years and years on the principle of paper books being more magical. Eventually, she relented and created Pottermore, and only then did I read any Harry Potter. Ended up loving the series even though I didn't think I was missing much when she was discriminating us digital types. I haven't used a kindle in a long time but I read on my phone every day and love the experience.

    My Palm m500 was my first eReader and effectively made a (so far) permanent and loyal convert of me, which is saying something since 20 years ago there was little I loved more than perusing huge book sales, I'd make a very happy day of it. I carried a lot of massive boxes full of books from many a library/university book sale. I mean sure, partly I loved that if you went on the last day, you could have everything you could carry for almost nothing, but I liked the books as well the deals.

    I don't want to downplay anyone's use of or joy with paper and OP's points are well-taken especially in the context mentioned, but I do sometimes worry when I see anti-ebook headlines that tend to crop up at print publications, as if they're defending paper books from extinction when they're actually on the side of the super majority. I think some of the those writers are conflating the fall of print news with the never-happened death of print books. Oddly, I keep most digital news at arms' length (as leading source of malvertising and creepy tracking).

    The expected domination by ebooks never really happened. Last I saw penetration topped out at about 25% ebook to 75% print and has since fallen. It's not as if ebooks are so ubiquitous that they're safe from cultural backlash. Macmillian recently started adding new unprecedented restrictions on ebook lending at libraries of their titles. In addition to authors or publishers going back to not publishing some things digitally, there's always the chance that they kneecap their digital offerings in a variety of ways.

    If public sentiment is that digital books are a threat to the magical paper past rather than a nice complement that some people not only want, but some even need, that makes it easier for big entities to get away with bad behavior that relates to ebooks. Indeed, I saw a lot of people defending the big 6 publishers and apple when they conspired to raise ebook prices in 2010, exactly the type of people who would normally be angry about corporate cartels. The little ebook retailers that aren't a part of FAANG got wiped off the map by that collusion and virtually no one in the press even noticed.

    I agree, paper books are important. Just wanted to throw a couple cents in about the importance of ebooks too. Not that anyone here needs to see it, but you know, if you have any hipster dufus friends/family writing at the New Yorker or somewhere remind them digital is important and more vulnerable than paper.
     
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  6. jigwashere

    jigwashere Life is a circus!

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  7. lelisa13p

    lelisa13p Your Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    raspy, I understand and agree with your viewpoint regarding digital portability of your own reading materials and I have largely done the same for myself because of the lack of physical storage space in my house after decades of living and accumulating stuffs. :vbrolleyes:

    Mi An, I agree with you, as well. Personally, I believe that adults should have the ability to choose from available formats, old school and/or digital, the types that best fit into their lives at any given time. Having choices is lovely.

    My main thrust, if you will, is that children don't have the ability to know what benefits them most and that without the influence of discerning adults (parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians, etc.) they may be getting short-changed in this most pleasant of pastimes, the opportunity to leave reality behind, open the cover of a book and just fall in. :vbsmile:
     
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  8. headcronie

    headcronie Greyscale. Nuff Said. Super Moderator

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    I contemplated why paper books were so important whilst transporting them during our recent move. Still feeling the cramps and muscle spasms from that one box. :eek:

    I've not done recreational reading in quite a while. I read for a living on computers. That's all I do. Research, test, read results, research again, test, deploy. Rinse and repeat. I want to give my eyes a break when it is time to clock out. A movie or no screen at all is my break. Unfortunately, that also means no paper books. Not always by choice. With a good case of ADHD, I find myself unable to focus on a book, especially after reading all day. I could medicate and dig in but at this point in life, I'd rather not medicate. Soon enough, we'll be taking more medications than we have breakfast options.

    I did pick up a Nook e-ink device (the name has slipped my mind) at a garage sale recently. Sealed, new in box. It needed a firmware update to connect to the store which I finally found after much digging. Thought it was obsolete. I figure I'll load a few books in the medieval sci-fi genera and try to get into those next I'm somewhere and don't want to be plugged into the web. It will be a good test to see if I can focus on recreational reading again.

    Now if I could only find that Nook device. Things have a tendency to disappear during a move... I knew where it was in the old house. Where oh where did it end up...
     
  9. jigwashere

    jigwashere Life is a circus!

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    You might find it in the house, you might find it with a mouse, you might find it in a box, you might find it with a fox, you might find it here or there, you might find it anywhere. You'll like that Nook when you clock out, you will like it, garage sale scout. :newpalm:
     
  10. EdmundDantes

    EdmundDantes Mobile Deity

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    Count me firmly in the Luddite camp when it comes to books (full books). I too started reading shorter stuff (up to longish short stories) on a Palm Vx and then a Lifedrive and now a tablet; but when it comes to a book (novel, history, biography), give me a hardcopy book every time. I do understand that a Kindle or similar is great for travel (although usually I have one big book on deck for vacations) and for those who have limited storage (say living in an apartment in a city, been there too). I just love sitting back in the chair with a good book.

    I also admit that while I do read a lot of news on a screen, I still read at least one daily paper in hardcopy. I find it much easier. Having had to read it online when the paper isn't delivered, going down the list of articles for a single edition, I find it takes a lot longer and somehow I absorb less. I have no proof; but I strongly believe that a lot of people who read all or most of their news online don't get the 'full story' as they graze various platforms and articles. I think they tend to read the articles they want instead of sometimes reading harder material that might be in front of them on a newspaper page.

    I am puzzled though about a child-specific Kindle. I don't have kids, but if I did, I'd be sure to start them on hardcopies first, long before introducing reading on a screen. Just seems better to me; and I don't think it's a coincidence that there have been so many articles describing how digital elites in tech centers are even more strict with screens (often not allowing them at all for a long time) than the average parent. In that respect, I totally agree with that WaPo article.
     

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