The Selfish Book

A newspaper here in Hong Kong recently ran a commentary about the children of many of the top executives at hi-tech companies in Silicon Valley –Google, Apple, Yahoo, Hewlett-Packard. These children attend the local Waldorf school, a school where computers are not allowed in the classroom, and their use at home is frowned upon. The commentator asks the question: do these parents know something that other parents don’t?

Skimming and scrolling have become the way of “reading” on the Internet – both of these activities are the antithesis of the process of absorbing words and meanings in a book. I am seeing it in some young children who come to the library to do research on a topic – they seem to have real difficulty in reading slowly and carefully what is on the screen in order to find the answers to their questions. My concern is that these skills will be transferred to the smaller screen of tablets and Kindles, and that the discipline of reading a book will be lost. I recommend the book called The Shallows: how the internet is changing the way we think, read and remember, by Nicholas Carr for a powerful discussion of these issues.

Ray Bradbury died recently. The author of Fahrenheit 451 claimed that he wrote about futures that he hoped to prevent. With half a dozen Primary 6 students lined up to read this quite grown-up book, I am hopeful that the book, in whatever form, will prevail.

For these and other students at my school there is a wonder and excitement about stories, and learning to read is a major achievement for them. Being granted the hallowed title of “free reader” is one to which they all aspire, some from as young as Primary 2. Each library session I will hold up a couple of books, sometimes quite old books, from the collection, and before I have even begun to outline the story, I have children raising their hands to borrow that book. When I protest that I have not told them anything significant about the story, they claim that it does not matter. The fact of it being in the library to begin with, and the fact that I have selected it, and that I have also read it (sometimes when I was a child– quite a long time ago!!), and that I am about to recommend it, is enough for them.

These children are surrounded by supportive teachers, and parents who are, happily, able to afford to buy them books, and who actively support using the wonderful resources of local public, and other, libraries. Little wonder then that they are avid readers, in spite of all the gadgets and imaginative toys that are part of children’s lives today, and which some see as a major competitor for valuable reading time.

So, the debate is what exactly? About the form of the book obviously, and what is potentially lost when we digitize and, to an extent, privatize, our reading materials. I have had many discussions with my young students about this so-called issue. Many of them now have Kindles and other devices, and some of them use them exclusively. However, we continue to have a large number who prefer the paper book form.

Prior to writing these few words for the great eDebate, I canvassed opinion from my Primary 5 and Primary 6 students. They were very balanced in their views. They felt that in some situations, like going on holidays, that the Kindle was a much better alternative. One little girl has a special carryon suitcase which she usually filled with books for the long summer holiday. Her parents were mightily pleased when loving godparents gave her a Kindle. However, for curling up at home, in a beanbag, or on her bed, she preferred a paper book. Horses for courses. One boy even went so far as to say “I love the satisfaction of having people see that I have finished a big book!! I don’t get that from reading on a Kindle!”

Another child mentioned that part of the joy of reading the latest book, say Uglies by Scott Westerfield, was that they could easily pass it on to their friends. Not so easily done with a Kindle or iPad – yet. One child said that in that way the new technology is more “selfish”. Interesting observation I thought and one with which I would agree. The act of lending or giving a book to someone is a very active sharing – whatever the technology advocates say, this is just NOT possible in the same way with e-technology. If you want to “share” a book on technology then you both need to go out and buy it – great for the author I guess, but something special is lost. And I make no apologies for feeling nostalgic!

Parents who were listening in on the class discussion then brought up the matter of book design, and things like pop-up books, and books with superb, specialized illustrations. Could these be as satisfyingly reproduced in a digital format? Would people with wonderful skills in these creative areas no longer be needed, or valued? The children felt probably not – these would be the kinds of books which would continue to be produced in paper format.

I get the sense when speaking with fellow readers that the inevitability of the Kindle and other similar technologies cannot be ignored. When we think about how pervasive the mobile phone now is – our parents and grandparents in their 80s now are forced to have one, either because of concerned family, or because it is cheaper than a landline, or for whatever reason. Some people have resisted and I admire them. In the same way I think that the Kindle and similar will triumph – my own personal opinion about the power of the big technology companies to infiltrate our lives is not for this forum. I have seen university professors dance excitedly on stage at a professional development workshop on the educational benefits of the new technologies, espousing the joys of the latest iPod or whatever. I remarked to a colleague that they were no better than glorified salesmen for that particular company.

In many ways the ‘either-or’ of this great eDebate is not really the issue. Writers will continue to have great ideas for stories. Books will continue to be written and published. Hopefully our wonderful authors will still be able to be paid for their labour when a copy is purchased, or borrowed from a library. These are very important licensing issues but do not concern the actual stuff of the book itself.

The real issue is the continuing promotion of the value and joy of reading. And of the idea that it needs concentration and “work”. To understand what a writer is truly saying needs more than “skimming” and “scrolling”. The promotion of discussion is present in many schools and public libraries. Parents reading to their children around the dinner table, playing audio books in the car – all of these activities are part of, and will ensure the continuing life of, the book. I encounter parents who do these things all the time. Younger children listening with their siblings to Singing for MrsPettigrew by Michael Morpurgo, with the older ones explaining to the younger ones the more complex words and ideas.

Inviting authors to speak with children, to stimulate and excite them about writing – libraries need budgets for this important activity as well. These are vital ways to promote the love of stories. Visits to our school by Isobelle herself this year inspired children to gallop through her Little Fur series, and to beg me for more. I told them to email Isobelle!

The most important thing about this debate is that we ensure that we do not ever have a world like the one envisaged by Ray Bradbury. There might well be a time when the job of librarian will be quite different – children will come into the library and simply download the latest novel, or the recommended classic from the library’s computer. The format will be different, the storage will be different, but the stories will remain as clever and funny and moving and dangerous as ever!!

I met Bernadette Walker many years ago when I was on a lecture tour that took me to the public library in Townsville, North Queensland. You meet a lot of nice, interesting people on these tours, but it takes something extra to make and retain the connection. I think it was Bernadette’s energy and enthusiasm that caught me. She is a dynamo. If anyone is going to be able to engage with new technology it is she. A librarian for 36 years, and now working in this capacity in a school in Hong Kong, which I have also visited a few times, no one is more eminently qualified to talk about e technology and book forms.

18 Responses

    1. Vauny says:

      I don’t know that skimming and scrolling while researching is a computer only thing. I find I skim research materials all the time for a very simple reason : it’s not as interesting as a novel is.

      Usually when I get a book that I love I read it twice consecutively. Once quckly to get the story, this will usually mean I do nothing but read for a few hours straight, then once my need to know what happens has been satisfied, I’ll re-read it at a leisurely pace to reabsorb small points or pick up on foreshadowing I missed previously (not to mention reliving my favourite parts). This second reading for me is the more satisfying read where I can absorb the book as a whole

    2. Deb says:

      I’ve always been a person who loves to share literature. I’ve given away more books than I can remember, posting them to friends all over the world, and handing them out to those closer to home. I donate spares to the library, and if they don’t have a copy of a book in a series that I need I will buy a copy, read it, then pass it on to them so the next borrower has the full set available. Sometimes when I used to lend a book and didn’t get it back, I’d get annoyed, (because I couldn’t remember who has it) but a catalogue of my books fixed that problem.

      I really can’t imagine being able to lend favourite stories to friends in digital format. Unless said friend and I downloaded different titles then swapped e-readers. that might work. I think the best that could happen it this case is that I could recommend books to people and that they would be able to afford to buy them.

      It’s interesting that the big techo’s don’t like their children to use the products they produce. In this day and age where even primary school kids have constant access to computers, I can see not only reading, but also writing will go through a huge change. I can’t understand half the things my younger family and friends write now, in text messages and emails and on facebook. It’s a whole new language. Is this the way literature of the future is going? Scary thought.

      Vauny, I have to agree about skimming texts that are not as interesting, though I’ve learned to be a careful reader of most uni stuff, I want to pass after all. I also love to get in a read a new book quickly to get the story, then re-read for the enjoyment of picking up what was missed the first time.

      I have a number of books that I re-read at least once a year, often they are comfort reads – like visiting an old friend – but I always find something new or something that I have forgotten in them. Makes me happy.

      Bernadette, it’s great to know that there are still younger readers who want to sit with a real book and read. Thank you for a great post.

    3. Bernadette Walker says:

      Vauny – my thought about the skimming and scrolling are that they can be difficult habits to break if you are a young child and learning some important skill like reading. Even the skill of being able to concentrate for more than 3 minutes on someone speaking without having to have an “entertainment” break is something that I have read is of concern to educators. That ability to focus and persist is probably what I am talking about here. My work is with young children, and I find that the two applications of reading – reading a book, and looking at a computer screen – appear to need/use quite different approaches. I’d like to know what others feel, or know of research into this.

    4. Chris Neilsen says:

      This is perfect timing, I had my own mini-epiphany in a lecture today that is vaguely related. I had been bemoaning to a friend earlier in the week, and this has been a long term thing, about how good I am at tuning out my internal reading voice. I’m reading all of the words, I’m not skimming my eyes across or anything like that, but I can tune out the sound of my inner reading voice. It annoys me, because it means that I don’t take in what I’m trying to read. If I’m on the train I can tune out lots of noise, but if there’s only one conversation I can’t tune it out and I tune out my reading voice instead. I’m better when I’m reading a novel because I’m more interested in them than uni readings often, but sometimes even books or readings I’m interested in I can’t focus on. I do it with thinking about other things too, I’ll be sitting there reading and also having an internal thought process about what I have to buy from the supermarket or replaying a conversation in my head or drafting e-mails. And then I realise that I’m thinking about some other junk and not reading. I get to the end of the sentence and can’t remember the start of it, because it’s just been words I’ve been tuning out.

      Anyway, I’m getting to the point. I had this epiphany today, which I’m sure the rest of the world has probably worked out already, while I was sitting in a lecture at uni. I suddenly looked at my hand writing down what’s on the slides or what my lecturer said 2 sentences ago, whilst also listening to what the lecturer was saying now. And I went “Oh my God, I know where I learnt how to tune out my inner voice.”

      So when you said the bit about how people are learning to skim all the time, rather than learning to read and then later mastering the skill of skimming for key content, it reminded me of my epiphany. Another skill that we’re learning that isn’t terribly conducive to reading!

      And now I’m left with wondering how I’m going to teach myself to be able to tune out the noise, especially words rather than just background noise, and focus on the reading!

    5. Heather Giles says:

      That is the second time in the last couple of days that someone has recommended The Shallows by Nicholas Carr it sounds very interesting and is now on my to read list.

    6. Brenda says:

      I love the feel and smell of books, the weight in your hand as you read, the ‘Sunday evening – Monday’s approaching’ feeling as you near the end of a book you are particularly enjoying. That said, I am travelling for most of this summer, and splashed out on a Kindle for myself. We are now a two Kindle family, as my eldest daughter has her own (bought by loving godparents who know what a booklover she is). We can easily share books between the Kindles as both run through my account. We now have a super transportable library of books for myself and my daughters. What a weight off our luggage this summer! But we will all continue browsing through the real books in our favourite libraries, bookstores and our home bookshelves once the summer is over…

    7. Lana and Kala says:

      We utterly love all types of books, ebooks, hardbacks and paperbacks, but we especially like the illustrations and colours in real books. Ebooks hardly have pictures, and if they do, the pictures are blurry and in black and white.
      Even though the stories are the same in ebooks as they would be in books, books have pages and feel so much more real then ebooks. Ebooks are fantastic for travelling. Before we had a Kindle, our travel bags were stuffed with books and impossible to carry, but now we have room for other things, such as a whole family of penguins and bears!

    8. David Andrew says:

      Thank you for your sensible, down-to-earth and even, provocative, thoughts, Bernadette. Some of the tings that occurred to me as I mulled over what you had written…
      I don’t think good readers read word-by-word (and nor do people “read” a painting or picture “line-by-line”. Their eyes jump here and there along lines and across the page as their brains make meaning from “chunks” – words, phrases etc. Among other things, it’s probably a sign that human brains work a lot faster than the plod, plod of reading.
      I do believe skimming is a necessary skill in our world, not only for study, but also for survival. Can you imagine what a time trap every 3rd rate advertisement would become as you read your morning paper?
      However, I think the new (‘young’?) reader needs to learn to differentiate here. When do you read “properly” and when do you skim? Perhaps the Internet and computer lit do encourage skimming, however, having a sense of purpose when starting to read, helps you choose the correct reading depth. Am I looking for certain things in this histroy paper? What are the bacteria I have to identify? What is that politician promising today? Will the Joker snare Batman in his evil trap this time? Horses for courses.
      And technology … fabulous convenience to seduce us big time! 50 squillion books on a paper-thin piece of plastic. However, is it really in the corporate interest to allow us – mere reading peasantry – to swap, exchange, share books? The cynic in me at first says “no” … but then again, there’s probably a dollar to be earned if a lesser charge is made for swaps, 2nd time reads etc.
      Thank you, once more, for stirring this debate, Bernadette.

    9. Bernadette Walker says:

      It is easy to be cynical about the clever marketing ploys used to “reinvent” wonderful children’s books. I try to stop myself from being so. Virginia Lowe’s article and readers’ comments lead me to feel that preserving the integrity of a story in paper form, whilst sentimental and sweet, might well become a thing of the past. I would love to interview the parents from the big companies who send their children to a Waldorf school in Silicon Valley rather than a high-tech, fully-wired one.
      Working at a popular and happy primary school in Hong Kong which houses a paper-based library leads me to believe that this is a good strong basis for encouraging a love of learning to read. The technology can follow.

    10. Karin Gilbert says:

      Hi Bernadette thank you for your post.
      I am a teacher librarian also and find your discussion very interesting. For the younger child, (and sometimes not so young) a paper picture book presents a wonderful experience of story both in the written word, the visual image and the tactile experience, The artistic experience of the story is as important as the words themselves and I’m not sure the digital format can offer the same type of experience. It offers a different interactive one which is designed for a different purpose. It is important to bear this in mind because both formats have value in the learning experience.
      I have also read the Shallows by Nicholas Carr and can see in myself how my reading habits have changed over the years of my exposure to a digital environment. “Readicide: How schools are killing reading and what you can do about it” by Kelly Gallagher is another interesting book to read in this area. And Maryanne Wolf’s “Proust and the Squid, the story and science of the reading brain.”
      The habit of immersive reading needs to be practiced and built by the reader. It is not always easy to do this in a digital format where it is all to easy to link to another offshoot of what you are looking at. Pretty soon you find that you have 15 tabs open and you think…hmm where was i at? The practice of focus in reading, the habit of immersing yourself in the story enough so that you stop pause and reflect on what you read provides the opportunity for you to comprehend, make connections to your previous knowledge and build the framework for deep thinking. In a digital format this practice may not always be as easy to maintain. We do fall into the habit of skimming quickly to get to the core of what we want to know. However a print copy of a book allows this to happen too, we can flick through the pages and still skim, albeit perhaps not as much as in a digital version.So what is the answer? I think creating conscious readers who build the habit of purposeful focus in their reading are going to be aware of the different types of reading they participate in. We need to build greater skill and confidence in our readers of today because they need to be so much more adept at thinking, reflecting and connecting to what they ‘read’ across all media and in all environments. Reading, interpreting, analysing, are more important than ever in our learning, and the learning spaces that are school libraries can help make connections across all the different ways we need to be readers. so in regard to the great eBook debate we can’t lose sight of the core purpose of any story and information no matter how it is presented and in school libraries we need to be transformational in our presence amongst the school community and proactive in building ‘readers’ who are confident in all aspects of their reading world. The boundaries have changed and we need to be proactive in building the understanding that reading and every aspect of deep thinking it requires is more important than ever in our transmedia environment. So I guess I’d better get back to work…. 🙂 Karin

      • Deb says:

        It’s good to know that there are good libraries and great librarians out there who can teach our kids the value of learning how to read. I think that if parents and teachers continue to encourage children to read, there will always be market for books, paper or otherwise.

    11. Louise Ford says:

      I am drawn to this debate as I observe many around me “latch on to the latest technology”. With the growth of E Books, I ponder the changes ahead.
      Bernadette, in her thought provoking article, shares the enlightened views of her young students. The thoughtfulness described, conveys the joy of reading, no matter the format; and I feel this is the crux of this debate.
      The joy of reading surely is not only the attainment of knowledge and entertainment but begins with the admiration of the physical attributes of a “real” book. The smell of a new book, the straightness of the spine not yet explored, the gloss of the front and the matt of the innards, the colour of the pictures all begin the joy of reading
      Will the E book contribute to the loss of comfort when curling up in bed at night with a favourite well worn novel? Will there be no more need for bookmarks as a recording of the “nodding off” stage of this favourite pastime? Shall there be a decline in the art of gift giving of a bookmark, let alone an actual book ? Do we shelve our bookshelves? What is the future of our favourite independent bookshops? Wandering through one in a new town is a wonderful way to belong, even for a short time.
      There are too many real books for me to enjoy still. I write of loss; I am happy to be swayed otherwise

      • Louise, another point of view…

        For me, eBooks have been all about discovery. I’m reading so much more now, including books I would never have read in print. I first encountered digital books while living in a remote area, 300kms from the nearest library or bookshop.

        I love curling up in bed with the light off and the screen dimmed on my well worn iPad. I like the way I can change the background, size of the text, look up a word definition, search the entire book, view a linked map, image or chart. I even like the way the pages slide and don’t do a fake page curl (ok some eBooks do that). I have to admit, I even admire the physical attributes of the eBook’s container. Although I sometimes switch to a smaller, lighter version. I was always hopeless about remembering where I stopped reading, never having acquired the skill of bookmarking. So, I appreciate that eBooks do this for me.

        I could go on, but I think I’m going to go peruse the digital shelf and read an eBook. Where will the pixels take me tonight?

    12. Helen Walker says:

      Thanks for this discussion – it’s a good one and feels a bit like “how long is a piece of string!” I’m a book girl and that will never change. I love books around me – I love the feel of them, I love bookshops – old and new, libraries, other peoples book collections – all of it. eBooks don’t do the same thing for me. That said, I’ve just started my first eBook and am enjoying it. It is not the same but it is not all bad either. I live in a country where English is not the first language and the English section of the public library is very small. I am in a book club with 26 (yes, it is big!) but there are only 2 kindle/eBook users – we usually buy 3 or 4 copies of the book and rush to read and pass it around. Interesting! We range in ages from 20 – 50 but we still like to pass a book around. There is a place for eBooks – it’s about personal choice and it is not a bad thing to have choice – sometimes a cup of tea made with a teabag works even though a cup of tea made from tea leaves tastes so much better (to me anyway!)

      I have 3 children (under the age of 12) and they read books. They don’t read eBooks or have a kindle. I want them to appreciate a book for the story and for it’s other attributes – the illustrations (if any), the feel of the cover and how a book warms in your hands, the weight of it and the joy (or sadness) you feel when you turn that last page. The fact that someone wrote the book and someone else printed it. We’ve come a long way from when books were hand written but there is still a tangible connection with that time when you hold a book. EBooks feel so far removed from the craft of writing/publishing a book – something like the difference between watching a play and watching television. There is a place for both but they are very different experiences.

      On the point of children skimming text, I also think this is worrying. I teach English to 7, 8 and 9 year old native English speaking children who attend school in French. They skim a lot but I think this is also how the world often operates now – a lot of experiences are immediate, fast, over and then you move to the next. We are impatient and this is reflected in how we approach most things, including reading. To slow my class down and to stop the skimming, I got the children to read aloud. You can’t skim when you read aloud. It took a long time, required patience but we saw a quick improvement in their comprehension, use of phrasing, difference with reading descriptive text and dialogue etc. In fact, they enjoyed it! Learning to read and learning to skim text are very different skills and I think skimming needs to come much later.

      I’ll stop now – thank you for creating a space to discuss this.

    13. Kate Luxmoore says:

      Thankyou so much for such interesting, diverse and well informed debate – a pleasure to read. I tend to straddle the technology/hard copy issue regarding books. Within the library I work in, both are well and truely in use. I really do believe this is rather an exciting time within publishing and a true opportunity exists with the ebook, to maintain a connection with readers who may well have abandoned the practice completely but for the ‘technology’. I was recently at a workshop that discussed the application of ‘transmedia’ within epublished books – taking the ‘reading’ experience to another level completely with links to social network sites (perhaps to engage in a forum like this to discuss the book), digital movies (to reinforce or demonstrate the idea being expressed) and so on – the whole thing sounded fantastic and I want one! Yet, nothing quite beats curling up with a great novel – turning the pages, feeling the paper – that intimate connection between writer and reader – wonderful.

    14. Bernadette Walker says:

      Having read all of your responses I am at once buoyed with optimism and a feeling of fellowship, but I am also very aware, as I know you all are,of the multitude of challenges awaiting librarians, teachers and parents in being able to strike the right balance between the paper book and its e cousin/sister/brother/twin.
      Sooner or later technology drags us screaming, or entices us seductively via the “gee whiz” factor,, and we have to learn to accept this. The Silicon Valley folk are doing what they think is best for their young children – perhaps we do need to know more about the “why” of their decision.
      Karin – thank you for the two recommendations – I have already placed them on order…in paper format.
      My hope is that there will be space for the two formats for many decades to come – that publishers won’t give up….and that each format will offer a different, a unique experience. We might even hope for a growth in book readership – increased library use, and increased sales for our wonderful writers. Fingers crossed!

    15. Beth McNeilly says:

      Bernadette, thank you for some thought-provoking perspectives, and to the other contributors for their insights as well. As someone who’s just finished earning an LIS diploma (but is well into middle age, I might add), and who has confronted this topic several times during the courses, I keep coming away with the feeling that both paper books and e-books will coincide, and thrive, for a very long time to come. The idea that young children just learning to read may struggle to concentrate enough to glean the full benefits of reading and retaining what they read if they are mainly doing so in the distracting online world is not something I had considered before in quite this way, but it’s good to be made aware of this possibility and keep an eye on how it may fit with some experiences I had during placement work at a few school libraries…in particular, young children assigned to look up information in both books and online about a chosen topic. It was apparent that many of them would give up reading, either on paper or online, very early on if the answer to their query was not obviously standing out within the first few sentences of even a short entry of just three or four paragraphs. These were not difficult or convoluted questions, but rather straightforward ones that simply required some patience in reading through each paragraph to identify what they needed to know. So as librarians we have our work cut out for us in this respect. Perhaps it’s a bit like the slow food movement…can we encourage a slow(er) learning (which admittedly sounds a bit oxymoronic) or information digestion process? I’d like to read The Shallows and the other books mentioned…do they offer any alternative approaches?

      Also, I hadn’t appreciated the connection between this sort of reading for research and reading a picture book or novel, but I can see where, if a young child is spending a great deal of time online, it might impact their patience for reading a full story on paper. During the past three years of studying and simultaneously freelancing as a researcher, I found e-books and online journals incredibly useful and convenient. I could consult library collections from the comfort of home rather than trudge the three-hour round-trip journey to my local uni’s excellent physical library for one or two simple references. At the same time, I have yet to be seduced by Kindle or reading books for my own pleasure or edification on my laptop…I, too, love the intimate, hands-on-paper feel of reading a book all the way through. That said, my mother, from whom I inherited my love of reading and who, if we ever empty out all of the bookshelves and books from her house, would no doubt worry about the walls collapsing in on her, was given a Kindle for Christmas last year by my sister and she loves it. She has not, and never will, turn her back on real books, but she bounces back and forth between the two formats. At 70 she loves being able to enlarge the onscreen print for easier reading as well as reading in bed, as Liam mentions, without disturbing my sleeping father.

      I hope we can always introduce children to books, to stories, in the ‘old-fashioned’ format, as from what Bernadette describes and what I have seen with my nephews and the children of friends, it really is an excellent and still magical way of engaging their young minds, of encouraging them to be enticed and submerged into that world that is both on the page in front of them and coming to life in their own imaginations. At the same time there always will be reluctant readers who we struggle to engage. If e-books help excite that reading spark for children more enchanted by screens than printed paper, then it seems wise to support that. But I think the traditional book format should be the first entryway we try. Then, once they are comfortable in this world, the knowledge of how many options are out there for them to explore as they grow older will hopefully just seem a bonus.

    16. Leah says:

      I agree that it is so important for children to be encouraged to read, hopefully both at home and at school, and I love that you have such an involved readership at your school.

      Reading a book does indeed seem to require a different method of reading to reading on a computer. Despite my love of reading – and that of learning – sometimes when I read on-screen, I have to force myself to focus, and to read the whole link. Sometimes I even bookmark the page to read later, which of course never happens. The problem with the internet is the potential for distraction, which I think is part of why reading onscreen follows such an irregular pattern.

      I love being able to share my favourite books. Your points about sharing books remind me of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series. They’re very clever and entertaining, and after the first book, they become more and more involved with the production and preservation of books. In one of the later books, he came up with something called the “thrice-read rule”. It was an early and insightful possibility for ways that copyright restrictions could become too limiting. Jasper Fforde was also very early in finding other methods of connecting with readers, including password-locked special features for his books, which could be found on his website by answering a very simple question after finishing the book.

      I agree that physical picture books will most likely continue to outsell ebook versions. At the same time I imagine that alternatives to picture books (apps and games) will become more popular, but – hopefully – parents and by extension their kids, will continue to prefer a book they can hold and physically interact with – turn the pages, feel textures, etc.

      I love the accessibility of ebooks, like the ability to buy books that would otherwise be out of print, and how easy it is to order them and have them delivered wirelessly to an iPad or most other ebook devices, but I will always want physical copies of my favourites to admire and read. I find it easier to sit down and read a print book than to read books on a computer, phone or iPad, but I like the idea of epaper, and plan to get a Kindle or Sony reader at some stage. It just gives you more options, which I like. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and insight!