The Real Problem With EBooks

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So, I’ve been thinking a lot about Ebooks.

Let me just say for the record that I LOVE Ebooks. I think they will play a huge part in the future of publishing, and I am very happy about that.

I downloaded one of my favorite author’s latest, and I immediately started reading. I couldn’t get enough of it, and that’s a good thing. People always say to read a book over watching television or playing a video game… it’s like a thing.

So, then why was I getting wonky looks when I was reading a real life actual novel?

Because it was on my phone. It looks like I am obsessively texting, emailing, and playing iphone games–pretty much the exact opposite of reading a book.

When I taught school, we had a set time each day where everyone (not just the students, but the teachers and administrators, too) had to stop whatever it was they were doing and read. One of the big reasons for that was so kids could see the grown ups reading as a model, and then follow suit and pick up a book for themselves.

But, is it sending the same message if I’m doing it on a cell phone?

I would think a Kindle would convey that I was reading something of substance, but what about an iPad? I could just as easily be tweeting or playing Diner Dash, right?

Am I being silly by worrying what kind of message I’m sending to my kid by reading onΒ  a cell phone?

Is just telling her I am reading a full length novel enough for her to get it, or should I skip out on the cell phone and pick up a real ereader? Heck is that even enough–should I only read old school traditional books in front of her?

What’s the right thing to do here?

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  1. Buy a silly pair of horned rimmed glasses and put them on each time you read an e-book. Just tell Hal they’re your “reading glasses,” hehe.


  2. As far as your own kid is concerned, let her read The Cat in the Hat on the iphone. She’ll grow up knowing that games aren’t the only thing you can do on an electronic device. Heck, that books are COOL enough to live on the latest nifty shiny gadget.

    I also agree with Julie K uptopic. As someone who played Diner Dash for WAY too long last night, there’s not really a way to mistake frenzied tapping of the screen for page turning. πŸ˜€

    1. @Rosemary, well, like right now she is using her tag reader to read books, and I think that’s a good thing.

      I guess its just that I don’t want all this modeling to go to waste, ya know?

  3. You CAN lend an eBook on the nook for exactly two weeks to one person, at which time the book is unavailable to you (which makes sense, the other person has it right then). However, not all books are available to lend, only the ones that the publisher has agreed to allow, from what I can tell, and you may only lend the book once. Forever. If there is some sort of technical difficulty during the initial transaction, then you cannot lend it at all.

    This is totally lame and should be fixed, but eBooks are awesome. And I think your 4yo is smart enough to know how you spend a lot of your time staring at your iPhone. Maybe mention it, but I’m sure she recognizes your behavior when you’re reading, and can know by glancing at you whether you’re reading or playing Diner Dash. Kids are smart.

    1. @Elizabeth, I agree. If they are going to make it so I can lend, then make it so I can LEND, darnit!

  4. I agree. As long as you show her that you’re reading, you send the right message. I will say on an iPad, you’d be touching/tilting a lot more if you were playing a game than reading πŸ˜›

      1. @Julie K, of course people should read them, but I wonder if a 4 year old’s perception matters at all here…

      2. @Jamie, I think if you explain it to her (and keep showing her that you do it) then she’ll get it. It’ll just take time. And I think it’s good that you read print books sometimes too. It’ll teach her that you can read anywhere anytime. Good lesson to learn πŸ™‚

        My kids finally get that I actually do work on my computer. I do other things too, but now they understand that my work is here.

  5. I think if you ignore the world and do as you’d like, that being read an ebook, it won’t matter. Teach her technology. I read books on my cell phone. They’re meant for that.

    IF you can afford the technology (kindle at under $200) why not get one. If not, is your current model working?


    Sascha Illyvich

    1. @Sascha Illyvich, Well, for me I LOVE reading a book on my cell over a kindle because it’s small and I really like the size. It’s my preferred method of ebook reading… but I worry that it just looks like I am texting friends… you know?

      1. @Jamie, Eh, so you’re texting. I do that A LOT as a way of doing business or staying in touch. My phone makes it easy to do. Why not take advantage of technology?

        Or as I said, tell the world to deal and don’t judge you LOL!

  6. I think you should do both, show her the old way and the new way, so she can decide which is better for her. I think both are great. So why not showing her the differences between them? Since ebooks are the future, why not start now?

    1. @Dome, but, the issue I have with that is that modeling is supposed to be just something we sort of do without any real explanation–if we’re doing all that showing and stuff, it kind of defeats the purpose of modeling, right?

      1. @Jamie, well, for the purpose of modeling you can always grab a book…and read on your phone when the little one isn’t around. I believe it depends on the child really. We think way too much about what we can teach them insead of learning from them. Give her a book and give her an ebook, see what happens next.

      2. @Dome, it isn’t about my kid not having a book, ebook, etc. in front of her… she has those things. It’s about the actual modeling–I don’t think modeling works as an exercise if it’s forced, I like it to be natural… and I don’t want to model the wrong behavior. My issue is that I read pretty much exclusively on the phone, with a paper book being the exception. Maybe I should change that…

      3. @Jamie, I don’t think it is wrong to read all your books on your mobile. I personally prefer to hold a book in my hands, instead of some cold metal or plastic box.
        I like your parenting approach very much. My parents read books whenever we went on vacation, so it became one of my habbits to pack at least two or three books into my bag when I leave the country, I still do…although now the language switched from German to English πŸ˜‰
        My parents never forced us to read but they encouraged us. I remember the first day of me getting a library card…I went to the crime section (I was around seven years old) and picked an Agatha Christie novel!

  7. I think that if you SHOW her that you’re reading, it doesn’t matter what medium it is. I read ARCs on my laptop and I show the Girl that it’s a “book” I’m reading. Kids are smart, they’ll figure it out. But maybe buy a non-ebook every once in a while, because they look really pretty on your bookshelves.

    1. @WritingLeigh, That’s another thing! Friends come over and ask to see my books–I have to tell them I read a lot of them on my phone. I want to SHOW them the books, and let them borrow them!

      1. @Jamie, that’s the biggest issue with EBooks, to me. I love them for some things, but I’m about to ship a box of books off to one of my BFFs, and I couldn’t DO that with ebooks. Now, if they’d figure out a way to get over license management and let you “lend out” an ebook, we’d be in business!

      2. @WritingLeigh, I would LOVE that. If I could let someone borrow an ebook for a week or two. I think you can do that with the Nook, but it doesn’t really seem to be catching on.

      3. @Jamie, I don’t understand why the format has to be platform-specific. Can’t they encode them like MP3s, playable on all? And if I can have ARCs that expire on my computer, shouldn’t you be able to do the same thing with books? I think it’ll come eventually, but it’ll take time.

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