Suspend Your Disbelief

Shop Talk |

eBooks? Not in this crib.

Guess I'll just kick back with a good book tonight

News flash: eBooks are growing more popular by the year–wait, make that the minute. But there’s one market where paper books are still king: babies.

The New York Times reports that even eBook-reading parents prefer paper books for their tots.

This is the case even with parents who themselves are die-hard downloaders of books onto Kindles, iPads, laptops and phones. They freely acknowledge their digital double standard, saying they want their children to be surrounded by print books, to experience turning physical pages as they learn about shapes, colors and animals.

Parents also say they like cuddling up with their child and a book, and fear that a shiny gadget might get all the attention. Also, if little Joey is going to spit up, a book may be easier to clean than a tablet computer.

“It’s intimacy, the intimacy of reading and touching the world. It’s the wonderment of her reaching for a page with me,” said Leslie Van Every, 41, a loyal Kindle user in San Francisco whose husband, Eric, reads on his iPhone. But for their 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Georgia, dead-tree books, stacked and strewn around the house, are the lone option.

Note the language there: the intimacy of touching the world. The physical aspects of a paper book–the feel of pages, the image on the cover, the heft of if in your hand–are things even committed digital readers still want their children to know.

If those children associate the feel and even the smell of books with happy childhood memories, perhaps they too will insist on paper books for their children. Could nostalgia, then, be enough to save print books? Check back in 20 years, or so, and we’ll see…

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