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Tablets vs. books

For parents of young children who want to give the kids an excellent educational foundation before kindergarten, a key question is whether books are better than tablet-based text.

It's a good question for them to be asking and trying to answer, and one that got some ink in Sunday's The New York Times.

The story looked at the few studies that have been conducted on the subject, and I came away with the conclusion that books are much better to use to engage children in active reading. When children use tablets, they tend to poke and play, not read. They are distracted, not reading.

One study showed that kids who "read" from tablets had far worse comprehension than kids who were read -- and read -- real books.

As I have written here before, there's something about looking at text on a screen that's just physically different from looking at a book, and by physically I mean in the brain.

Having said all of that, here at the library we are getting some iPads for our children's department. We'll download books and games for them. And we'll see what happens.

Meanwhile, we are promoting the heck out of our 1000 Books B4 Kindergarten program, for which we're hoping people will use real books.

Future of the book?

The Economist has just published a long essay on The Future of the Book.

It is five short chapters that cover the history of book-making as well as a best estimate of where books are heading.

My summary statement is this: The future of the book is good, even if it is not necessarily digital.

Printed books are just way too convenient, and they will get cheaper over time because of publish-on-demand technologies.

The Economist predicts that e-readers will go the way of the do-do bird. You can read books on any device, after all.

The reasons for being bullish on the book are many.

Check out what The Economist thinks.

Is it inevitable?

The headline this morning at Infodocket, a blog that's continuously updated day after day, was this:

"Missing from campus bookstore: books."

Lynn University in Florida has scrapaped the traditional book store model, featuring, well, books. Almost every book required for the 300 courses offered at the collge are available digitally.

And a university in Ireland has done the same thing.

This is just the beginning.

Here's the main reason why: Textbook costs for students at Lynn College have dropped 94 percent.

The average student pays only $29.

But that's also because a lot of profs have developed their own course materials that they make available to students for free.

Ultimately this sort of thing will not be good for research and scholarship, as this shows.

Nobody in his or her right mind does something for nothing.

A big sale

Thanks to you and the Friends of the Library, more than $4,000 was raised at last weekend's annual book sale.

The Friends organized everything so well that you could find just about any used book you could ask for.

This money will be used to help buy things here at the library, and is much-needed additional revenue for us.

You cannot imagine all the hard work that goes into this event. Linda Blackistone and her crew of volunteers come in almost every Saturday during the year to sort out and load donated books into boxes. Then, those boxes are taken by other Friends to storage units. And they all come back together on the Thursday before the sale to load and unload and distribute the materials for easy pickings.

We are so thankful for these wonderful folks!

I don't get it

Well, here's a conundrum:

We have just received a slim volume that reputes to boil down Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow" to a 30-minute read. This little summary joins at least four others that I could find on Amazon. So, this classic in American economics is being given repeated treatments a la Cliff's Notes.

Little wonder about this. TFS is a long book. It is not poorly written, though, and can be got through fairly quickly.

The conundrum is this: Why would so many publishers commission summaries of TFS, while at the same time there are NONE for "Capital" by Thomas Piketty?

Piketty's book is a real slog. I read the first chapter and the last chapter, which was advised by something I read in a review.

Since its publication, "Capital" has been called the book most bought but never read in the past year, like Stephen Hawking's book of several years ago about the universe.

Maybe Piketty is just so boring that you can't even summarize him and make it readable.

I dunno. Just wondering.