Thursday, February 25, 2010

The e-Book Debate: Should Childrens' Books Enter Into It?

I love my "real" books (hardcovers especially), and I don't have an e-reader, but if an e-book is the only way to read my favorites, then I HAVE to download it and read it on my computer. I can get a lot of books in PDF, and Amazon even has a "Kindle for PC" application that you can use to read books on your computer. BUT, this is just for MY reading, not my kids.

Nostalgia may be one of the big reasons I love paper/real/bound books... but children’s books for my kids have to be paper until we get the larger 12" to 24" brightly colored screen for the pictures... and even then, I am not going to let them play with it. They make board books that way for a reason. Ha ha. No one wants their computer drooled on and thrown.

I think letting my kids have access to the bookshelf at an early age has helped them have a huge joy and love of reading. My 4-year-old constantly takes out a stack and "reads" through the books 1-by-1 all by himself... mostly picture gazing. Sometimes this leads to that stack being dropped at my feet with a plea of, "Please, read these to me Daddy!" Sure, there have been torn pages on rare books, but that is a small sacrifice (and a lot of those have now moved to a new home in Daddy's "don't-you-dare-touch-it" library, ha ha).

I also love that after I've read the bed time story; my 4-year-old will take the book from me and "read" it to me. Sometimes silently, and sometimes with many memorized sections (even after only one reading).

PDF files on a computer screen can show a children's picture book, but it isn't portable…. unless it is a laptop. Plus those 2 page spreads, and not to mention the fold-out pages, won't work very well (or look really tiny).

So, what are the benefits for a children’s e-book:
1) No more ripped pages.
2) Possibility for Interactive qualities (we've seen those CD-Rom books).
3) Portable for trips, sort of…depending on size.
4) Shelf space.
5) No more shelf-searching when your child asks for that one book that hasn't been read for 2 years.
6) Saved tress.
7) No lead based inks (ha ha).
8) Many out of print or rare books may become accessible again.
9) Possibly cheaper than new, $15.99 children's hardcover books.

But what about those negatives for a children’s e-book:
1) Drooled on e-device.
2) Tiny black and white screens (or tiny color screens). Yuck.
3) Bigger books just won't have that "cool" factor or "wow" impact.
4) Parents don't know for sure how long the book is until they've been reading out loud for over 20 minutes past bedtime (I hate when this happens, ha ha).
5) Broken e-device because the kids got a hold of it trying to read the latest Little Critter book without your permission and spilled their milk on it.
6) Insert anything else you can think of here.
7) Do you really want anyone under the age of 7 (or 15, or 18) using your $300.00 - $2,000.00+ (USD) e-device?
8) The pictures will make the book files a lot larger, so you won't be able to have "thousands" in your e-reader unless it has a big hard drive (or large amount of file storage space).
9) Accidental purchases of the complete collection of something-you-never-wanted because you let a child touch it for approximately 10 seconds (or the deletion of everything on your device).

So, do you think that e-children’s- books are in our future? I think it is possible.. but I don't know if I want them to happen. My main reason for not owning a Kindle is the price of the Kindle… My second reason is $10.00 a non-physical-book that holds no re-sale value is a bit of a hard thing to swallow. If I don't like a physical book, I can re-sell it or donate it somewhere. If I don't like an e-book, I can delete my $10.00 e-book, and that is it. It isn't like the company is going to give me a refund. The few e-books that I do have, I spent less than $5.00 each for (most under $2.00, and many were freebies).

In the meantime, I will continue to support my local thrift shops. I can't go wrong for $0.10, $0.69, $1.00, $2.00, or slightly more for kids' books, and I doubt an e-reader will ever have them for that cheap.