Trailers and e-books

I love my illustrated books. Some of my old picture books have such beautiful illustrations. There is now new approach to the classic Alice in Wonderland story… and with a difference, the classic illustrations have been brought to life for the iPad.

This app makes the story interactive. This particular form is not meant to be read sitting still. It can be shaken and turned. There are many interactive elements on the screen to move around, fall down or jump up.  If  you tilt your iPad you can make Alice grow big as a house, or shrink to just six inches tall. It is “odds on” that the kids will love it. I too would love to try it but unfortunately because of the US success the date for the sale of ipads in Australia has been delayed. For now I will just have to make do with this demonstration. I notice that Alice for the iPad is available from the App Store and there is also a free, lite version.

Another beautiful trailer was brought to my notice by my colleague Tania Sheko this week. Neil Gaiman’s journal/blog post, which he labels “just happiness”, he remarks on how happy he is with the result of a collaboration with Charles Vess. In the trailer he is reading his poem Instructions, and Charles Vess illustrations accompanying the words. In the trailer we see the illustrations of Vess developing from pencil drawings to delicate paintings. It is such a whimsical trailer to promote Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess’s upcoming children’s picture book: Instructions. It really whets my appetite for the book.

This week I was at a conference where there was one session on some ebook options. I have also been discussing the future of eBooks with the adminstration at my school and with other teacher librarians and teachers. We are still really at the beginning of the journey with eBooks and there is no clear direction except that the eBook, in one form or another, is here to stay.

The “old technology” hard-copy book version, that has been around for about 500 years (in its common format) is a well-loved and remarkably robust  invention. I believe that eBooks can happily coexist with the paper versions as do audio books. The eBooks can provide access to a library of books, anywhere, anytime and in a very compact package, great if you are on a long flight for instance. I am beginning to regularly see people on trains checking news headlines on the iPhones. This is great if you have limited space or if you have only few minutes to read. Audio books and podcasts also fulfil a need, especially for visually impaired or if you need a hands-free version of the story. They can, in addition, offer a performance akin to a drama in some instances as with my own BBC radio collection titles.  I regularly listen to podcasts out walking or when I am on long drives on country roads. They are great companions on my journeys.

I have also tried eBooks with some of our students and so far they have no clear preference for one form over the other. It depends on many factors and they are really quite forthcoming about the strengths and weakness of each form. So I believe that the “old” book has little to fear in the near term from the new eBook version. Rather they can happily co-exist and support each other.

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