Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Picture books go high-tech...some thoughts
Yes, the economy and possibly the rise of iPads and Nooks capturing that interactive, cool, technologically advanced version of books has led to fewer picture books being printed. But they're still around and publishers are still buying new manuscripts.
So here are my random thoughts on this issue that could affect reading for kids and parents. An article from the New York Times features the color Nook's e-reader.
Recently, I was able to view a children's book on my friend's Nook. It was cool. The colors were vibrant and the story still endearing. I also had a chance to look at the interactive elements of a children's book on an iPad.
As a mom, I wonder how many parents would feel about their little ones handling their expensive equipment, like an iPad. I get nervous when my 15-year-old needs to borrow my laptop (yes, I am a bit paranoid, but he also has a habit of dropping things, stepping on earphones, etc.), so how much more would I feel anxious about a preschooler with sticky fingers and a drippy nose handling my iPad? It's one thought that comes to mind. However, the interactive nature of the illustrations and text is very cool. I would definitely sit there and play around with the ticking clock or read-aloud text, and I could see parents really enjoying sharing these resources with their kids.
The other thought I have about e-Readers comes from my experience in reading a recent book for adults on my husband's Kindle, the e-Reader produced by Amazon. At first, I felt totally out of my element. I was pushing buttons on this foreign contraption and just couldn't get used to the fact that I was reading an actual book. As I got into the story, it became more natural. I liked the fact that I could adjust the font size easily, but I guess that normally I must do a lot of flipping around when I read a paper book. I read the info about the author, I flip ahead to see how long the chapter is, I look at the chapter headings. This is not so easy with an e-Reader.
But, on the pro side of the argument, you no longer need bookmarks.
So, I guess the bottom line for me is that I don't think picture books in their traditional form will be going away any time soon. There's still a physical connection we have with stories and with page turns and the story--literally--unfolds. But I also love technology and have my own love of gadgets, so I can see parents embracing this new "delivery system" of books as well. My husband, who has owned a Kindle for a couple of years, uses it occasionally, and also reads regular books. Not all books are available on the Kindle, and he still goes to the library to check out books as well. This is what I picture parents doing. They may have a couple of books on their iPads to share with their kids, but will also make those library and bookstore runs for books as well. As an author, I think the possibilities are exciting, and I hope someday to see one of my books on an iPad or Nook!