30 December 2008

Is Our Children Reading E-books?

The Los Angeles Times is one of a number of news outlets reporting how the sales of electronic books grew by a large percentage in 2008. Of course, sales had been so low that nearly any market penetration would have produced a large percentage rise. But between the Sony Reader, the Amazon Kindle, and other devices, the format seems to have caught on.

Some people fret predictably that this new technology will change reading habits (of course it will) in fundamental ways (not really). Good fiction makes readers so mentally involved in the fictional world that they stop noticing their real surroundings--including whether they're turning pages, clicking a button, or listening to a recorded voice.

In the LA Times article, the opening case study (shown above, photo by Stefano Paltera) is an eight-year-old named Skye Vaughn-Perling, who likes Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears a Who in both printed and digital forms. Well, with a name like Skye Vaughn-Perling, he'd have to like Dr. Seuss, wouldn't he?

I always seem to feel rhymy toward the end of the calendar year, so I found myself summing up the LA Times article this way:

Skye Vaughn-Perling isn't heeding
Questions swirling over reading.
He has seen both printed matter
And a screen--so which is better?
Skye seems glad for either version
Since what matters is immersion.
What he looks for, he's surmised,
Can come in books or digitized.
I feel unseemly pride in the internal rhymes.

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