Kids/Schools – the saviors of the paperback?

I, like the rest of you, have been watching the trends of the publishing industry. From all indications, you might wonder if in the future, printed copies of books will become what a VHS tape or a vinyl record is today.

I miss (oh do I truly miss) the days when I could go to my local Borders, write a few chapters, drink a coffee, buy a book or two, and just be surrounded by the pages I so enjoy.

I’ll readily admit, that I find it enticingly convenient to hit “Order” and Amazon immediately sends to me via their “whispernet” a copy of my book. This is especially true now that I don’t have my local book haunts, and the local library just isn’t the same.

Another advantage, especially for kids is that any of the self-respecting e-book platforms have built-in dictionaries. So as a kid stumbles into a word they won’t quite understand, they at least have the option to look it up without undue hassle.

With my school age kids (9/10), I have noticed a trend with their book purchases. Anytime I buy them a book on the Kindle, (which both kids have), they roll their eyes and wish for a paperback. I found this a bit odd, since my kids tend to be gadget oriented, and I know they enjoy reading and using their Kindle, so your intrepid reporter asked them, “Yo, what’s up? Why the looks on the electronic media? Why the preference for the paperback?”

The response floored me with its simplicity and how much it made sense.

They both said, “We aren’t allowed to use our Kindles at school, so if we don’t have a paper version of the book, we need to read something different during our ‘reading time’ at school.”

If you think about it, especially in the younger grades, this rule makes perfect sense. Do you want the potential problems of the careless elementary school kid throwing his backpack with his e-book around and that being his only reading material? I’d assert most kids will find themselves at some point during the year with cracked screens or other such eventualities. To avoid any of those issues, the e-books become verboten in younger grades.

I personally don’t see that necessarily changing in the near future. At least not for that age segment. After watching my kids obliviously walking in front of people or large moving objects, consistently losing their shoes, Karate outfits, underwear, socks, etc – it might be a bit much to expect the general population of rugrats to take care of their e-books especially in a school setting.

In summary – I think the printed copy will survive for quite a white, though the quantities and demographic representations may skew over time. It is hard to envision a time where some of the kid realities noted above would change such that the elimination of a paperback is a reality.

-Mike Rothman

One Comment

  1. Ilene Jones
    Jan 06, 2012 @ 10:22:22

    It has always irked me that my son is not allowed to bring an iPod Touch let alone an iPad to school, even in middle school. It irks me more that my daughters are still working out of books rather than being able to just pick up an iPad or Laptop and do their homework. Some work, like math probably does need to be done on paper just to ensure the understanding of the material, but there’s so much more enrichment that you can get by using technology. How is it that in Japan, the kids are all using laptops in school, especially middle and high school ages, but we’re still stuck with carrying around a backpack full of books. My son has had the same problem with books at school – and we’ve actually bought both eBooks and paperback so that he can keep a copy in his backpack for school. It’s tiresome being on the bleeding edge with everyone else holding you back.


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