Stacked in Our Favor

Thoughts about libraries, education, children's literature, writing, art and being connected

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Week 9 Thing 21 - eBooks and Audio Books

My opinions about what constitues reading, how it should be done and "correct format" have gone through considerable transformation over the past 5 years or so. Purist might have been a kind term to refer to my thoughts before I began the journey.

Audio books have stolen my heart. I used to think that listening didn't count. One had to read a physical book for it to "count." The fact is, though, that I can never read as much as I want to, even if I had all day to do it. Audio books allow me to increase my cultural literacy in the time that I do have. Still, students should read, shouldn't they? Getting over this misconception took me a bit of time, but now that I realise that so much of preliteracy involves being exposed to language audio books have a great part in learning to read and improving fluency. Also reading along while listening is an excellent strategy. So audio books have a special, if hard won, spot in my heart.

The new hurdle for me is getting used to downloading the books myself, finding appropriate storage methods, adjusting to a new format and making it part of my work/life.

Personally, I still feel more comfortable reading a book made of pulp. The amount of online reading I do is substantial, but it can be hard on the eyes. When I'm going to focus on a full work, I'd prefer to have a physical copy. I also wonder about the advisability of the focus on making libraries digital in an age when our natural resources are dwindling. One wonders how much we should be relying on electronic versions of books which are energy efficient to use (not produce) in the long run. It may be a moot point, but one I wonder about from time to time.

Frankly, I never thought I'd want to read a book online and then someone told me about Daily Lit. The folks who created Daily Lit found that they didn't read as much as they wanted to because they had busy schedules. They realised that they were reading their emails every day, but not finding time for great books. What they decided to do was to serialize books and send them by installment via email. There is also an RSS option. Through daily lit I have revisited many old favorites and found it very manageable. You control how often you receive the installements. The homepage shows books for purchase right up front, but if you browse you will see that most of their offerings are free. In the past I have chosen to receive them via email. This morning I tried to add the RSS feed to Google Reader without success. Using the feed option on VISTA worked, but I prefer to check Google Reader so I will have to conquer that hurdle. Daily Lit has made it easier to be open to the ebook and reading literature online.

It is great to have so many resources available.

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