Surprise, surprise. Literary writers prefer print....
|Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List|
23 August 2014
One simple question. Would you consider using this article in class as an excellent example of "Informational Reading"?
I might, but not for the reasons you might expect.
A PREFACE: A clarification. It is not my intent to counter the pro-print and anti-E-book positions taken in this article. My intent is to call into question the tact taken by the article's writer (henceforth referencing the writer of the article in order to distinguish the article's author from the book authors referenced in the article).Had the author used the same tact, with the exception of presenting only evidence gleaned from pro-eBook writers, I would certainly have had as much to be concerned about regarding its lack of balance.
I might use this article as an exercise in determining when "informational reading represents an example of a writer being informed, misinformed, disinformed, or ill-informed.
My intent was to reference the writer of the article, however I suppose that it might also reference the authors who are the subject of the article as well.
• The article's title is misleading. I had hoped that the writer might be writing an article representing a cross-section of authors who have preferences for reading traditional print or E-Books.
AN INTERESTING SIDEBAR: The previous comment refers to the title on the article as it was published on The Huffington Post (Click to the article above to see for yourself). When "scooped" for this blog, the title mysteriously changed to "6 Reasons why Print Books Will Always be Better." Having done my fair share of print production, I know that headlines are generally not the work of an article's author, but rather the product of the page layout person. The headline as published on The Huffington Post is misleading; the headline that appears at the top of this blog is at least more honest in that it does not hide the writer's bias.
I've long had concerns about teachers who express to their students a preference (or skeptical opinion) of either format. Well intended as it may be, it is a personal opinion being passed off as an informed opinion. And, we live in a world where many, if not most, students from every ability level are still too often focused upon reflecting what they believe to be what the teacher wants them to believe, whether they do or not, is going to be on the test (or appreciated by the person who will eventually be handing out grades). Those who prefer "the other" media for their reading may well come to one of two conclusions; either perceiving themselves as in a minority of those "less respected" by the teacher or, in a class with a clueless teacher. This is disturbing in light of our goal of encouraging all students to value the wisdom articulated in great works of literature.
• The writer then begins by clarifying the fact that the authors of whom she writes all share a particular grudge against Amazon, the major distributor of digital text. Their grudge, which may well be justified, is primarily based upon Amazon's policy of not making available books written by authors whose works are also sold by Amazon's primary competitor, Hachette. I suppose this is a reasonable concern since the Amazon policy does punish the authors by reducing the distribution of their work. The authors become the rope being dragged through the mud in the tug-o-war between two corporations. So, unfair as it appears to be, the question is can authors be unbiased when asked about their preferences for reading media? I don't know.
• In spite of the headline's appearance of an implied promise to be fair and balanced, the writer clarifies in bold, but buried, text that her article will only represent authors who favor traditional print over digital media.
Those authors articulate the traditional arguments in favor of traditional print, many of which are reasons that my own reading habits sometimes includes traditional print. I do love the ambiance that the wall of books in my den brings to the room. I do appreciate the feel of a book in my hands, the smell of an old book as I read an old classic. I like the "lendability" of printed books, (though I suppose that isn't a preference for many authors who would rather every reader by his or her own copy).
• Another concern is that there is a common "jump to the conclusion" that authors have some special expertise on the subject.
They may have some degree of expertise on quality of an author's writing. Though examples of famous author's distaste for other famous authors abound. (see: The 30 Harshest author on author insults in History: http://flavorwire.com/188138/the-30-harshest-author-on-author-insults-in-history)
It's pretty clear to anyone who happens to prefer E-Book reading that some of these authors are in fact ill -informed or inadequately experienced about reading E-Books.
For example, like Lev Grossman, I too want to leave my kids a roomful of books, but reducing the act of reading E-books to "a chunk of plastic that they (the kids) have to guess the password to" would not pass muster in my class for representing an argument objectively.
And, I don't even get the intent of his quoting Maurice Sendak's suggestion that there is a parallel between reading books and sex having only one kind PERIOD. Absurd. One of the most exciting trends in creating reading materials is the exploration being done by authors of many new concepts in packaging books.
Emma Straub, begins with her confession that she's never read an e-book. Well, I'd rather hear the opinions of authors who have invested time in learning a bit about the subject they have taken a very strong opinion about. I do agree with her that I don't find reading on my phone to be a preferable mode of reading. But, to suggest that reading on a phone is a counter argument of much value, in spite of the distinct differences between reading e-books on a phone and reading e-books on other devices.
Anthony Doerr. If you feel that way, fine. Sometimes I have similar, but less intense preferences. However, having also spent a lot of time on my iPad I've come to understand that e-book modes of letting me know where I am in the book are pretty easy to get used to and have some distinct advantages. I would not have an opposing view if he'd indicated that he has issues with the difficulty of referencing pagination since unlike print books, pagination varies in e-books dependent upon font size options they have which brings both the consistent pagination problems but also the benefit of being able to adjust visual comfort. And, if his reference to making "scribbles of my passage" refers to the delightful activity of highlighting text and creating marginalia, Well, e-books beat the pants off of printed books, ah, IN MY OPINION.
And, his concern about the irritation he feels when getting "alerts blooming across the page announcing that it's your turn in Words With Friends," as clever as it seems at first indicates that he must not have phones that ring or an awareness of the preferences for controlling alerts on digital devices.
I must say that I was much less concerned about the comments of the last three authors included in this article.
Sue Monk Kidd presents her pro-print opinions without having to counterbalance them with questionably ill-informed opinions about e-book reading.
Elizabeth McCracken also restricts her comments to very specific reasons why she prefers print over e-Books in that dropping a paper book while reading in the bathtub is much less of a problem than dropping one's iPad while bathing. And, coffee spills and small children? Yes, these are arguments that with the exception of simply being careful, are understandable concerns.
Karen Russell prefers print over e-Books but makes the most sensible statement when she recognizes that "But writing an e-book has been an exciting experiment; it's the way so many people read now. [Print versus e-books] is sort of a funny rivalry."
The problem she mentions about feeling like a dinosaur for her preference is intriguing. I would hope that one's reading preferences would NOT make one feel like an outcast. Though, those of us with some concern about sustainability issues relating to the consumption of paper might feel a bit more concerned about the matter.
But, with that exception, what is the advantage in a classroom of a teacher expressing his or her preference as though students with the "other preference" are outcasts and in an indefensible position?
Reading preferences are not like elections where one side wins if it can demonstrate a majority approval. The real "winners" are those who prefer reading regardless of preference for means of access.
Our personal preferences in reading format are personal.
On the other hand, our professional preferences in reading format ought to be in promoting whatever means of accessing the great stories that each of our students find most engaging. This might simply be a recognition that individualizing our lesson design should consider THEIR reading access preferences not ours.
And, by the way, check out the graphic used to illustrate the article. A chalk board?????
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