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30 Nov 2010

@tdelet on Twitter posted an interesting message today saying that he wished his daughter could get her textbooks on Kindle or ipad because the textbook was such an anachronism.  I wrote about six responses before finally settling on “Textbooks may be an anachronism but you try throwing an ipad at an annoying classmate and see what happens!” and at least made light of the post.

The first six were a real moan at someone wanting to get rid of books in any form.  As a species we owe so much of who and what we are to books that it is simply immeasurable.  I know in reality that @tdelet was only after the removal of the paper component and not the book itself and that ultimately this is the way things are going.  But, there are times when just because we could it doesn’t mean we should.  I had it pointed out to me not so long ago that there is much to the touch and feel of a book that an ipad or Kindle cannot replace.  Try keeping a love letter in between the electronic pages of an ebook, or passing a classmate a sneaky note or hiding under the covers late at night with a torch, or reading in a hot bath; there are plenty of other things you can do with books that their electronic cousins can’t cope with or just don’t have the same appeal (throwing them at annoying oiks definitely being one of them).

Much of our understanding of lost civilizations comes from the written record that they leave behind.  Even now we are still decrypting and interpreting ancient languages and their texts.  The electronic book readers are somehow not as likely to be as resilient as their anachronistic cousins.  Even if we believe we are safe from the extinctions of history and that technology can cope with any eventuality there is still much to be said for books on paper.  We live in a fast paced world with information overload I don’t think we need to push that more on to children than we already do.  Encourage them to be creative, thoughtful, find their own way…who knows some of them might prefer the weighty feel of a good textbook.  You can’t put a Kindle down the back of your trousers before getting a caning from the Headmaster…no wait a minute they don’t do that anymore, do they?

Okay, so things move on, times change and the book’s days may be coming to an end.  That doesn’t mean we can’t mourn their passing and look back fondly.

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