In your hands

My life as a teacher of English and other curiosities

January 4, 2011
by annavarna
5 Comments

Paper Kindle Lover*

Besides being a teacher I am a renowned booklover and have been writing a book blog since 2005. So very often people ask me my opinion about books and what I like what I recommend and so on. Lately people ask me what I think about e-books, if I would ever buy one etc. People know that apart from reading I like collecting books as well, some may say I suffer from a recognized ailment under the name of bibliomania J . They come to the conclusion that I would never give up my favourite real paper books for a PDF version of them. This is partly true.

Some years ago I might not have written this post. I was so attached to my books that I couldn’t imagine a world without them. Hell, I couldn’t imagine my house without books. But one day my house was too small for our family plus our books. Then I started bookcrossing. And  as  I grow older and more used to being in front of a computer all day, the idea of not holding a book but a tablet doesn’t make me flinch anymore. What we want from books is their content of course and they way this is presented is of lesser importance in my opinion. Of course it’s a whole different discussion whether the content is irrelevant to the medium that carries it but for the sake of this discussion let’s suppose that it is.

The issue of e-books has become very relevant to education as well. Recently there has been a lot of talk about replacing paper books with electronic ones. Traditionally all books are given for free in primary secondary and tertiary education here in Greece. This is good of course. No, it’s not only good, it is elementary if we want to have free education for all. From what I read about the issue, I cannot make the conclusion that books will not be free anymore. But I wouldn’t be against their content becoming digital at some point. This means of course that all students will have an e-book device. Not only that, it means that some books could be enriched.  It doesn’t in any way mean that ministries of education will write the books, make them available on line and then leave students and teachers to print them by their own means. This is another absurd situation that wouldn’t surprise me to see.

The fact that students tear, throw away or even burn their books at the end of the school year (some people say because they haven’t paid for them) doesn’t mean that the State shouldn’t provide them. Maybe they should find ways to encourage sharing and giving away, maybe they should wonder what make a student so furious as to wish to burn his/her book.

But of course as so many things in this country we took a good idea and twisted it so far out of reason that now all reason has been lost and we can’t even enjoy the fundamentals. For example for the last three years we participate (as a school) in surveys about the weight of the students’ school bags. Children as young as 7 years old have to carry satchels that weigh 7 or 8 kilos. They have to carry so many books to school every day that nowadays firstgraders have these wheeled bags other people take for a weekend away! A kid that I know rolled down two floors of stairs because she couldn’t carry the bag in her back. You bet,  I would support a digital reading device!

Don’t let me even begin about free books at university because the situation is so ridiculous there,  a whole blog wouldn’t be enough. I will just mention that giving free books doesn’t mean students read them. From my short experience in Spain as an Erasmus student, students weren’t given half the books we were given in Greece but HAD to study more than the double.

My love for beautiful book hasn’t withered at all. Even at this time of dire straits, I keep buying books that catch my eye. But as far as practicality goes, I would rather have a Kindle for when I travel, even though if this meant I wouldn’t be able to post to my favourite FB group which is about what people read on buses, undergrounds etc. . .

So I wouldn’t be so worried about digital books. I would be more worried about children not wanting to go to school, about teachers dying out of boredom, I would be more worried about administration with no kind of vision and no idea about learning. I would be more worried about our schools and universities being underfunded than about introducing technology.

What do you think? Are you opposed to an e-book? Have they already been introduced in your schools?

* Paper Kindle: a printed book (from Urban Dictionary) (Thank you Hilda)

1225 MAY 2005

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