Even legendary science fiction author, Ray Bradbury had this to say when asked about Kindle and other eReaders: "Those aren't books."
Ouch. Really ouch.
Ray Bradbury was one of my early writing heroes. And while I don't hold him on the same pedestal I used to, I still respect him as a pioneer of genre fiction and as a brilliant writer. This particular quote hurt me a bit, as I make a decent part of my living selling eBooks for the Amazon Kindle. To have one of the greats tell me that they aren't real books hurt a lot.
Then, later that same week, I had a parent-teacher conference with the teacher of my eleven-year-old son. For those of you who follow my Twitter stream, Mathew has been the source of #TenYearOldWisdome and #ElevenYearOldWisdom. The teacher showed us an argumentative essay Mathew had to write for class. The title is "Kindles at School."
(To maintain the authenticity, I have transcribed the paragraph without edits.)
Kindles at School
I think that they should let Kindle at school! Don't you? Just think of it we can just download books right After we finish one! Also we could get a lot smarter! And then we'll get good grades! Good grade means good caleges! SO Who's with me!!!!?
So, there you have it. A child's reasoning for why we should let Kindles in school. I won't go into how many times he's downloaded a book without permission, but it's hard to get really mad at him for just wanting to read.
Mathew loves to read. He loves to read physical, old-school books. He loves to read on his mother's Kindle Fire. He wears the battery down more than she does.
This to me settles the argument. Why do we have to worry about which is better? Why do we have to worry about the whole eReader thing all together. People are reading. More importantly, kids are reading and loving it. If technology can provide a means by which we can encourage our youth to love books and stories again, we shouldn't be discussing whether or not it's "legitimate" or "wrong" or anything else. We should be discussing how we get these things (Especially Kindles) in the hand of more young readers. Why Kindles specifically? Because even if readers don't have the money to buy new books, or time to get to a library safely, they can always get books for their Kindles. Not counting classic books which are always, I repeat ALWAYS, free, there are on average 3,000 books being offered for free per day, across all book lists. No muss, no fuss, easily downloadable with the click of a button over Amazon's Whispernet.
This is really the reason I support the eBook revolution. Yeah, I may be living the dream of being a professional writer, but that's secondary to my kid coming up to his mother or myself, holding out the Kindle Fire as if it was some sacred relic, and asked, "I just finished my book. Can I get the next one?"