"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What we have heah is a failure to communicate.

A couple of posts ago, I spoke of David Mathison's talk at the Southern California Writer's Conference, and asked for opinions and discussion about the future of the paper book. The responses to the post, and to some other blogs I've been lurking on, lead me to believe I might have been misunderstood.

My quandry was this: As children, our first experiences with books are tactile ones. We chew on the fabric picture book, then we touch the patches of fluffy and slick and rough on board books, and slowly graduate up through chapter books, etc. While many of us are embracing the world of e-books, gobbling up Kindles, Nooks, and eReaders, almost everyone with Kindle-in-hand says, "but I still like to read paper books," or some such statement. I wondered what, if anything, would replace those early childhood sensations to allow us to completely give up our dependency upon the feeling of a book in our hands as adults?

Let me make my position clear: I'm NOT opposed to ebooks. I want a Kindle, or a Nook. As a nerd, I adore technology and welcome new toys.

What I want are ideas... what's out there to replace this? I know there are interactive books for the computer. My son had one, and delighted in clicking on things to find hidden clues. But what else?

Will anything replace this? We've got a few of these three-dimensional bug-eyed books and they were fun novelties to him.

Maybe they'll have a Baby's First Kindle, although it would need to be shatter-proof, slobber-proof and spill-proof. Will it be big enough to sit in Mom or Dad's lap every night and find the mouse?

Or how about books that are really works of art? This book has very few, very thoughtful words, accompanied by beautiful pictures.

I'm asking for all you folks who are thinking outside the box, who've glimpsed the future and seen some of the sights, who are dreaming of the paperless world, to tell me what's coming and what may be.

What would the paperless world look like, if you had your way?


Karen said...

I don't know about replacements, but touch screens are becoming all ther rage. What is to stop a company from making a handheld for children that can have sound and interaction via the touch screen?

The key for the children is to make it interesting and fun. It has to be memorable and it has to engage. Just staring at a screen doens't hold much interest if all you have are words.

The three important components to begin with would be:
Touch Screen capabilities
Full Color

Did I win? Did I answer right? DId I?


Gayle Carline said...

Karen, I don't know about "winning" but you're going down the path I was trying to point out. How about holographic technology? What other kind of techno-toys are out there, waiting to be hooked up to early readers?

Villavillain said...

It's a cool idea for the electronic books, but I'd really hate to see paperbooks take a hit. I work with low-income people, and try to get free kids' books off of Craigslist,as well as hitting up local authors. For the people who can't afford electronic books, I'd hate for touch screens to be the only possibility, especially if I can at least get a paperbook in the hands of the people who can't afford anything else. We need paper books,no matter what, unless we decide that boks are only for the elitest. Bob Saget, I would hate to see that happen!

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