February 19th 2013 by Cally Poplak
I’m a children’s book publisher, and until this century, I’ve used a piece of technology called the book to deliver authors’ stories to their readers. And, because it’s a very good technology, the printed book has served authors and publishers extremely well for over 500 years.
However, as a children’s specialist, I’m passionate about turning children into readers, and what’s always bothered me about the printed book is that it serves book lovers well but it does not appeal to all children, nor do the places where you go to find books: for most children, it’s The Entertainer or GAME not Waterstones; the technology-packed bedroom not the library. One in six children do not read a single book in a month; instead, text messages are the most popular thing to read outside the class. What appeals to more children than books is the Nintendo DS, mobile phone or family PC.
so-called ‘reluctant readers’ miss out on the extraordinary output of stories
This could make a publisher gloomy – but I am excited, because I believe in the universal appeal of a great story, and that so-called ‘reluctant readers’ miss out on the extraordinary output of stories in this country and around the world because we don’t make them widely accessible: we distribute them in printed books, which are not part of a lot of children’s lives outside of school. Digital changes that: digital enables us to take stories to children, where they are and using the technology that is already part of their everyday lives.
Digital isn’t the death of print; it’s the liberation of story.