Tagged: physical books

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One limitation of e-books

favicon In just the past two weeks, generous people from across the country have donated $1,130 to the Kindle Classroom Project, which is wonderful timing, because students in the San Francisco Bay Area are requesting books left and right, and they’re absolutely giddy that I’m able to honor their requests nearly immediately.

But for the first time, I’ve encountered a problem: Not every title comes in e-book format.

Hip Hop HIgh SchoolFirst came Hip Hop High School, by Alan Sitomer. This has been a favorite among ninth graders for a long time, so I’ve known that it’s available only in paper. Nonetheless, it’s a sad moment when a student wants to read it on his or her Kindle and can’t. How is that possible? they ask.

Turns out that some authors (or publishers), for various reasons, do not allow their books to be converted to e-book format. Perhaps this is to protect profits, or maybe it’s just to retain the romantic notion of reading. (I’m pretty sure it’s the former — and authors, in many instances, probably have a good argument.) For young people, however, who have grown up in a hybrid world of physical books and e-books, all of this makes no sense.

True BelieverAnd then it happened again this morning, when a ninth grader requested True Believer, by Virginia Euwer Wolff. Again, no e-book format. It’s unfortunate, but I suppose the KCP has met a challenge!

As a result, I started thinking of if there is a solution. First I’ll check in with the teacher to see if there is a physical copy available. If not, then maybe the Iserotope / Kindle Classroom Project community can come to the rescue!

That’s why I’ve added both physical books to the Amazon Wishlist in case you’d like to help out!

Update 9/21: Good news! These two books have been donated, thanks to Brian (Leesburg, VA). Thank you!

Why not just buy the student the physical book using donated funds? you may ask. The main reason is that I want to make sure that donors know where their money is going. Right now, all monetary gifts go directly to purchase e-books to honor student requests and to build the KCP Library.

Another reason is that although I love physical books — and have a dream that every single e-book in the KCP Library has a physical counterpart — the primary purpose of the Kindle Classroom Project is to aggressively increase access to books using Kindles and e-books for urban students of color in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Please let me know what you think in the comments! favicon

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The Kindle Classroom Project promotes reading. That’s great. But what if it promotes the death of the physical book?

favicon I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about whether the Kindle Classroom Project is contributing in a small way to the death of print books and thereby is sabotaging one of the program’s primary objectives: to reduce the gap between the reading haves and have-nots.

It’s best to write about these thoughts, rather than pretend they don’t exist.

The argument goes like this: Though the KCP may solve one huge problem (getting good books in students’ hands), it ultimately discourages independent reading in the long run. This is because the program focuses on Kindles, thereby discrediting and dishonoring the physical book as the primary means of reading over the past 500 years.

So if the program urges students to read on Kindles and does not offer physical books as an alternative, what happens when the Kindles get returned or stop working? What then?

Over the past week or two, whenever I feel like I have an answer, I quickly sidestep and consider an opposing view.

Like this morning, when I learned about Out of Print, a documentary by Vivienne Roumani. Please check out the trailer.

I can’t wait to see this film — and am secretly hoping it’ll come to San Francisco and play at a film festival, or maybe at the Roxie.

My big thought is, I know that Kindles work. Over the past three years, I’ve seen it again and again. Many students reclaim their love of reading with a Kindle. Other students love the Kindle because it’s like having a library in their backpack, with no worries of overdue fines or waiting for books to become available. Still others love to change the font size or look up words using the built-in dictionary. It’s pretty clear that Kindles do offer affordances that the physical book cannot.

But I also think that there has to be a place for physical books in the Kindle Classroom Project. After all, the KCP is a reading program, not a technology program. The point is not to disrupt an antiquated technology system. Instead, it’s mean to disrupt an unjust social system.

Besides, physical books do a couple things better than e-readers and e-books. Namely, they’re good at building reading relationships between a teacher and a student — a crucial step in bringing students back to reading. Also, print books are way better for discovery — to help students find what they’ll read next.

So I’m trying to figure out the best way to incorporate physical books into the Kindle Classroom Project without diluting the major thrust of the program. No decisions yet, but I think I’m getting close. Let me know your thoughts in the comments! favicon

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Don’t worry, Physical Book Lovers

favicon Don’t worry, Physical Book Lovers. I have a secret for you: Students still love reading real books! (Please don’t tell anyone.)

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I hope you have a great reading week! favicon

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Don’t worry: Physical books aren’t dead

favicon For all of you out there who are worried that the physical book will disappear, please read this recent article from Time Magazine.

According to reporter Matt Peckham, sales of physical books did, in fact, decline in 2012 — but only by 1 percent. Fiction physical books, on the other hand, rose 3 percent.

Children’s books — which don’t render well on the screen — enjoyed the greatest growth in physical form.

But if you’re not convinced, here are a few photos of my students reading real, actual, physical books. Full disclosure: Some of these photos are of former students, and it’s entirely possible that they’ve migrated completely over to e-readers since I taught them. But I don’t think so! favicon