When Amazon’s eBook sales, a la Kindle, exceeded its print book sales that we authors and publishers love so well, the “book sky is falling” dooms-dayers and sayers came out of the woodwork.
Stop it! Printed books—pBooks—are not going to disappear. There’s a significant body of evidence growing that not only are pBooks here to stay, they do some downright wonderful things for readers.
Books have power!
The University of Tennessee has been exploring students’ test scores for the past three years. Research led by Richard Allington has found that students who brought “real” books home had significantly higher reading scores than those who didn’t. It seems that those who toted books home avoided the “summer slide” that data has shown to impact so many students during the summer hiatus. For lower income kids, the decline is even greater.
Kids are important … they are our future. In The Shallows, author Nicholas Carr’s thesis is that the expansion and use of the Internet is a major contributor to a short-attention-span culture.
Those who tout the Internet as the “end all to be all” got some bummer news when Jacob Vigdor and Helen Ladd of Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy examined 500,000 fifth- through eighth-graders’ computer usage. The results: the greater the use of home computers and high-speed Internet, the greater the DECLINE in math and reading scores.
Research in over two dozen countries has also shown that kids who grow up in homes that have hundreds of books stay in school longer and do better academically. When you see the modeling factor, it becomes part of your life.
What’s interesting about these studies is the timing. Facebook and Twitter belong to this decade. So do the kids in these studies. Is there a direct correlation between the increased use of the Internet, Facebook, and Twitter and the increased school drop-out rate and decline in math and reading scores and comprehension? Could the increased use of all things Internet be harmful to a kid’s academic performance … and eventually career?
If you are a parent, pay attention! If you are someone who requires comprehension or the use of math in your work, pay attention! You just might be in deep doo-doo if you decide that the electronic format is the only way to fly … read … do everything.
We live in the Internet vs. paper book era. In my opinion, neither will go away. The Internet is a Godsend for quick research, tracking things down, spreading the word—whatever the “word” is. It’s also an amazing rumor mill, burping up misinformation right and left in a format where gossip thrives.
Books require a bit more vetting and investment. With the exception of a “crash book”—one that is rushed into publication within a few weeks (usually tied to something sensational)—the great majority of printed books are grown and nurtured into a package—one that you can savor and enjoy as you unwrap each page and chapter.
Tap into book power. Accumulate and keep books in your house. (Your kids will thank you.) Learn how the Internet can support book and brand. And don’t toss one out for the other.
One last thing: put away your buggy-whip scenario.