Friday, October 27, 2017

E-books or Physical Copies for Teens?

So, I heard something today, will not name names or point fingers but it made me sad. The comment was that certain schools are being encouraged to shy away from physical books in their libraries in favor of e-books. While I do enjoy e-books, I don't think they are always a good fit for children.

The reasons for a school district to advocate for e-books are admirable:

Less paper
Less fire hazard
Takes up less space
E-books can be checked out and re-checked out where physical copies eventually come into too much wear and tear.

However, remember dear readers where you first learned to love reading. It wasn't sitting in front of your computer. It was in a library! Staring down all the rows of pretty book covers and waiting for a cover to jump out and grab your attention! This is how you found new books too! You picked up a copy of a new book that was unfamiliar to you and you read the back description. Maybe you decided to try out the first few or last few pages.

The feel of the cover. The feel of the pages between your hands. The atmosphere developed by the way the text and/or illustrations were presented in the book. All of these things helped stimulate your decision to take the book home for the week or not!

E-books are great too, don't get me wrong. Amazon's kindle program even has a way to allow authors and publishers to add extra details like character and location descriptions, or even definitions with their kindle x-ray feature. (look for the "x-ray enabled" notation on the amazon book page) This makes a book more three dimensional and can even further the reader's learning if they come across a link that teaches them something they never knew! If the e-book reader comes with a 'read aloud' feature, that could certainly help those who struggle to read as well.

Do I think schools could successfully transition to e-book only? Sure. The problem is enabling the "find a new book" phenomenon that comes so easy with physical books. Perhaps large screens could take the place of shelves and display rows of book covers with the book description... this would take a lot of money that most schools just don't have. Plus, can you guarantee that each child in your district has an e-reader (or is capable of being responsible for one?).

Where I stand right now... I believe with my entire being that children of all ages need to have access to a diverse physical library within their schools. Not every student can get their parents to take them to the public library. I believe that without a drastic change in how we store and display e-books, that ebooks could have the effect of turning children AWAY from reading. With less physical books trying to grab their attention replaced by nothing but hyperlinks on a webpage... I feel that less children and teens will even bother to read.

Keep the e-books for the busy adults who don't have space in their already full briefcases for a physical book.

Long live the physical libraries stocked full of paperbacks and hardbacks beckoning every young adventurer to come and sit a while!

Library photo credit: Enokson Book Talker Hangers via photopin (license)


If you would like a Signed Copy of The Alien Mind I would be more than happy to send you one!

You can email me at jennings (dot) vlj (at) or send me a private message on facebook (@vljennings)- which is often faster.

Paperback copies of the new edition are 14$ and Hard Covers are 24$. Both prices include shipping!

I also provide free digital copies to reviewers.