This is an interesting story that I came across today whilst reading the news on ‘Sky Text’ and immediately looked for further information, the article can be found via the link below:
In the article, ‘The Reading Agency’ whose mission is to “inspire more people to read more” claims that “The ages-old problem of getting children to pick up a book is being helped by the increase in electronic devices.”
According to the survey one in four (26%) said they have bought their children electronic reading aids, such as Kindles, Sony Readers and iPads
A further 16% of parents say that they have either paid for, or let their youngsters use their e-readers and tablet computers.
These findings are interesting and I believe that they represent an evolution in the way people consume written media.
The digital generation mentioned in a previous blog (see here), expect easy access to information due to them been immersed in digital technology since birth, and now through the availability of theses mobile reading technologies, it is my belief that this current generation of reader, are going to grow up frequently reading written texts such as books, newspapers, comics and magazines digitally.
In a different press release regarding the Launch of a ‘Digital Skills Sharing Programme’ featured on The Reading Agency’s website, Miranda McKearney, Director of The Reading Agency says:
“Libraries and publishers are living through a period of change which can be exhilarating or terrifying. The people involved in this programme are those who relish the challenge of the change, and are determined to harness the power of the digital explosion to reach new reading audiences.”
We are in a period of change that is for sure but is it a change for the better? That is a question that causes great debate, in the above quote McKearney acknowledges that digital technology is a tool, that if harnessed properly can help take reading out to new audiences and this is positive.
In a previous blog (see here), I wrote about Author Johnathen Franzen, who claims that e-books are damaging society and serious readers but according to an article in the guardian newspaper Franzen is wrong, the article explains that in today’s busy world the book as a medium, has to compete with a wide range of other mediums i.e. television, internet, radio etc…
“So, the truth is that serious books such as Franzen’s Freedom or The Corrections have to compete for our time, whether in print or on a screen. But if a book is good, it will earn the effort and reflection that no doubt Franzen’s books deserve.”
The idea that paper is for serious readers, is a romanticised notion that does not make any sense in the 21st century. In my other career as a nightclub DJ, I often have people remarking to me that it is not the same now that DJ’s don’t use vinyl but my reply to that is if you are dancing in nightclub you are more often than not reacting to music and the atmosphere created by the DJ, without any knowledge of the medium that the DJ is using and for books I believe the same principle is true, if you are reading a book that is sufficiently interesting and written in an engaging way, the medium from which you are reading almost becomes irrelevant.
I am a self confessed advocate of digital technology but that does not mean I think it should replace traditional mediums such books and access to books through libraries (McKearney suggests that this time of change can be exhilarating or terrifying for libraries). Jonathan Nowell, President of Nielsen Book says:
“We are in a hybrid world of reading content through printed books and digital devices. Consumers do one, or the other, or both.” (Nowell, 2012, http://readingagency.org.uk/media/press-releases/The%20Reading%20Agency%20-%20Reading%20Partners%20Digital%20Skills%20Sharing%20Project%20-%20FINAL%2030%204%2012.pdf)
I believe that the main thing we need to remember here, is that it is important for people to be able to read and any medium that supports this should hailed as useful, how, what, and where we read may change but it does not matter, as long as we read.