As newspaper subscriptions drop, the print media are scrambling to find a model that will monetise digital versions of their product. One answer could be through distributing their product via a growing range of ereaders although as yet the profit-making part of the equation continues to elude even the most mogul of media giants such as News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch…(see this week’s Sunday Star Times on how the world’s top media organisations are attempting to embrace the portable digital world)
Will Gen Y be reading the daily newspaper on newsprint delivered to their door each day or will they be scanning news items of interest to them on an ereader? According to Sherman Young, Media Studies lecturer and author of The Book is Dead, unless we embrace the new media technologies of ebooks and electronic distribution, book culture is on its way out (ironically a proposition presented in hard cover paper format…).
Also in this week’s Sunday Star Times, Books Editor Mark Broatch, test drove an ereader for a week. Broatch concluded that he personally would never give up paper books, magazines or newspapers because he would miss “the romance of buying irresistible new titles, that freshly printed smell, the sublime art of a good cover, finding their perfect position on the shelf.” However he also observed that, “the coming generations of those who have never known a time when there wasn’t the internet, already get their information, their opinions, their sense of community online.”
And even more pressing for English teachers than debates about how we recieve news is the more vexing issue of how are young people going to find time to read a book when there are some many forms of entertainment vying for their eyeballs?
Rest assured kids are still reading…just not necessarily in ways that we used to. In fact from what I can tell, not only are they still reading, they are possibly more discerning readers than young readers a couple of decades ago due to the variety of ways they are receiving, consuming and assessing fiction and non-fiction.
In part two of my interview with Kings High Librarian and avid reader, Bridget Schaumann, we traverse the role of librarians in helping to make reading relevant for boys, current hot reads among her clientele and if we really need to lose sleep over how much they are reading.
PS: Here’s a link to a good discussion from Radio NZ’s This Way Up programme (June 5, 2010) on digital books.