At the January 2008 MacWorld Expo, Apple CEO Steve Jobs offered up one the dumber observations I think I have ever heard him make. When talking about the Amazon Kindle digital book reader, he predicted its demise because “it doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is people don’t read anymore.”
While that is demonstrably false, the real worry that so many parents have, and I include myself, is that kids don’t read anymore and the internet has hastened the decline and fall of the reading empire. A new study by Scholastic of 5-17 year-olds offers up some encouraging news. 75% of kids in that age range agree with the statement, “No matter what I can do online, I’ll always want to read books printed on paper.”
This gets to the heart of another matter that we have talked about on this blog before and that is the either/or nature of the conversation about the influence of the internet. Either you watch TV or you get your entertainment from the web. Either you read books or you download audiobooks. Either you go to the movies or you download entertainment. Attention needs to be paid to the fact that the internet is more often than not an additive experience. (Or subtractive, I guess, if you are a major media conglomerate.) As this same reading study goes on to say, they found that kids who go online tend to extend the reading experience by going to an author’s website or community of like minded readers.
Everything in life does not have to be winner take all.