Sunday, May 01, 2011

Not Your Father's eBook

Barnes & Noble and Sandra Boynton Join Together to Present the World's First E-Book App Signing
New York, New York – On Monday, May 2, renowned writer and illustrator Sandra Boynton will become the world’s first author to sign an eBook app for the general public. This historic signing will take place at 7:00 PM at Barnes & Noble’s Upper East Side store, located at 150 E 86th Street at Lexington Avenue, in New York City.

It's gonna be so awesome to look back over my purchased apps in 20 years and see my signed ebook version of Moo Baa La La La.

Is this the future we want?  I get that authors and publishers are proud of the interactivity of children's books in the electronic format, but what kind of future generation are we creating as a result? We are already so plugged in - look at yourself right now - are we not going to read to our children in 10 years? Will we let our iPads & Nooks do the reading and interacting with the kids, while we check our Facebook pages?

Below is Loud Crow's version of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. (They're also responsible for Boynton's app.)  It's very cool looking, I must admit - until I remember that this will be used by tiny children in lieu of a parent reading them the story on their own.



Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way - perhaps this isn't to be viewed as an "improvement" on the book, but more of a supplement....

Ah, screw that, we all know where this is heading. There's no way that a parent who invests in something like Boynton's app is going to be reading aloud to little Billy when he goes to bed. "Here, son, watch this video reenactment of storytime and I'll see you in the morning." Dramatic, sure, but is it untrue?

Again, this leads to the debate over books & eBooks - a subject we've all been discussing to death, I know. Yes, the argument can be made that paperbound books are just another technology, waiting to be replaced by the next one - in this case a musical, speaking electronic version. (My old pal, Jeff Bezos from Amazon has said as much on numerous occasions.) And there's a certain degree of truth to that argument, I suppose. I know that many readers of this blog, even, are eBook readers. I get it. I know it's not going anywhere. But where is it taking us? To me there's an intangible, personal element to holding an actual book in your hands and turning the pages that is lacking in the soulless, plastic and glass electronic tablet. An autographed eBook? Are you kidding me? What the f**k am I going to do with that? What does that even mean? 

Look, I get that there's a certain degree of irony to all this, as I only have a voice as loud as I do because of technology, but I think this is leading us down a slippery slope. Hearing the sound of both of my parents' voices reading to me (not simultaneously) was an integral part of who I became as a person - can the same be said for a generation who has a computer doing the reading? Amazing technological advancements aside, it all just strikes me as a little sad.

2 comments:

  1. Hmm. I don't know how different an app like this is from a show like Reading Rainbow (or others of that ilk) which also read aloud to children "in place" of parents. I'm not saying the idea is brilliant, but it's not anything new. Bad parents would have never read aloud to their children regardless the format and now at least those kids will have an interactive source for good books...

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  2. I think the difference is that this app would be replacing the actual reading, while Reading Rainbow encouraged kids to read themselves.

    And I don't know if this is geared towards "bad parents," but it does seem like a sad replacement for parent reading time. Besides, would a "bad parent" buy their neglected kid an iPad with a bunch of Sandra Boynton apps on it?

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