I’ve seen this Telegraph article linked to at least seven times amongst my geeky, book reading friends, usually with much anger or sadness or both and a lot of fist shaking. The gist is this: studies say that kids who have access to books at home are more likely to stay in school. Also that kids who had their own books are better readers. But many kids don’t have their own books or access to books in the home, but a ton of kids have their own mobile phones.
While the article is full of people going OH NOES! I am like: dude, this is a wonderful opportunity.
It doesn’t say what kind of mobile phones these kids have. Maybe they’re not smart phones, but I’ll bet a lot of them are. I’ll bet a lot of those smart phones are the kind that utilize apps (even WinMo can handle apps, they are just crappy apps). If the phone has apps, there’s an eBook reading app that exists for it.
Even non-smart phones have the ability to read some eBooks. And given that mobile makers are looking for ways to make non-smart phones more interactive, engaging, and enticing by asking developers to get on making apps for them, too, if your phone doesn’t have the ability to read eBooks, it will soon.
While it’s true that most apps can’t read eBooks with DRM, that should not be a barrier. Let the books be DRM-free or, if you really, truly care, develop some apps that can read ACS4 encoded files and release it to the world.
You say 80% of kids have a mobile but you want them to own books? Then sell them books for their mobiles. You want to run a program to give free books to kids so they’ll read? Budget money for both paper books and eBooks. You want kids to read more? Then you reach them where their interests clearly lie instead of trying to drag them back into the habits of an old and curmudgeonly generation. This isn’t hard.
In other words: stop your whining and do something. Or hush up.