Book vs. Nook–Pros and Cons of the Digital Age

I have always been and will stubbornly remain an ardent lover of books. To me there is nothing quite like holding a weighty novel in your hands, feeling the texture of the pages as you turn them, nostrils filling with a whiff of that distinctive smell of paper and ink, and pulse quickening in anticipation as you delve into the exquisitely beguiling world of literature.

There is a beautiful artistry to creating printed books, and one that I desperately hope will not be forgotten or lost. Though, I am fully aware of all the wonderful advantages of technological advances, I cannot help but have what seems to be becoming a nostalgic longing for an age when people carried leather satchels laden down with books from their local library.

I recently came across an article from The Telegraph describing a study by The National Literacy Trust, a U.K. charity that campaigns to improve children’s literacy rates in the United Kingdom. The study sheds light on the impact that e-readers are having on children’s literacy. The study strikingly “found those who read only electronic books daily are significantly less likely to be strong readers than those who read daily in print, and are much less likely to enjoy reading.” There is perhaps a certain detachment to the content they are reading on their computer, tablet, or e-reader screens that might not occur were they reading a printed book, magazine, or newspaper. I believe that there is something to be said for actually holding a physical book in your hands. As a reader, reading in print makes me feel much more connected to the content that I am reading and much more pulled into the story, whether it be the plot of a narrative or the details of a news story.

However, there is much praise due to the positive impact that computers and e-readers have had on the number of children and young people now reading books and newspapers. In the Information Age of today, when content is being voraciously written and consumed in the digital sphere, tablets and e-readers act as an excellent platform to reach the target audiences of children and young adults.

Though I personally prefer the “antiquated” notion of picking up a book, I am open to and excited about the opportunities that will come from the digital evolution of publishing. My hopes for the future of publishing is that there can be a harmonious balance between printed books and their digital counterparts. I realize that to be a part of this industry I must embrace the digital world and all the advantages that come with it, but it is my earnest desire that printed books remain a very rich and vibrant part of our present and future and never fade into glorious vestiges of the past.

See the full article details on the The Telegraph.

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Building a Generation of Book Lovers

I have been thinking a lot about children’s literature lately. As I prepare to begin my journey into a career in publishing I have been contemplating the critical role that children play in the future of publishing.

Playstations. Xboxes. Game Cubes. Tablets. Smart Phones. With the abundance of digital game centers kids are becoming increasingly less apt to choose a book over a game. The simple pleasure of discovering the twists and turns of the plot, befriending the characters, and getting lost in a new and exciting world seems to be foreign to many children.

A recent study by commissioned by the National Reading Campaign in Canada, authored by Sharon Murphy, indicated that choice was a “key factor in instilling a love of reading.” The report’s primary aim was to uncover the factors that promote a nation of people who love to read as opposed to simply a literate nation.

The research touched on numerous telling aspects about children’s engagement in reading and the effect of gender, age, choice of content, and reading environment on the amount of pleasure derived from reading. The most compelling finding was that even those children who identified themselves as frequent readers would not read texts other than those that were assigned to them. This indicates that the way in which reading is being taught in schools is actually stifling children’s enjoyment of reading.

If given the choice of the types of book they would like to read, children will be much more receptive to reading as an act of pleasure as opposed to a mandatory chore. Children in the study also positively responded to a change in environment. When taken out of the formal setting of the classroom and put into a more “comfy” setting the children became much more social, comfortable, and confident in themselves and in the opinions about what they had read.

I was read to as a child and know the importance that foundation in reading has played in my life as both an avid reader and writer. Fostering the love of books in children is something that I believe is critical, especially now that our world is becoming so increasingly focused on the digital sphere. In order to get children to become active and engaged readers, we must carefully nurture the love of reading from an early age. I believe that the future of publishing is strongly dependent upon instilling our children with a love of reading that will carry through into adulthood. Empower your children–give them the wonderful gift of the joy of reading.

Check out the full details of the study on Publishers Weekly.

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Countdown to NYU

It’s getting steadily closer and closer–my flight to New York and the start of my new adventure towards a career in my dream industry, publishing. I can hardly believe that I am this close to beginning what I hope will be the most exciting and challenging chapter of my life thus far.

As I experience the difference stages of anticipation–excitement, joy, fear, doubt–I am reminded of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. I recently read this novel, long overdue, as it is one that I had been meaning to read for several years. However, time has a funny way aligning things in your life and making them all the more meaningful. I could not have picked a better time to read Coelho’s inspirational story of a shepherd boy on the pursuit of his dreams than as I was beginning to embark on my own journey.

I have been thinking a lot lately about how each of my experiences have brought me one step closer to this time in my life. Achieving my B.A. in English, interning with Texas Monthly, traveling to San Francisco to intern with Tango Diva and continuing to write travel articles after my internship ended, having the incredible opportunity to travel to London to intern with Pickering & Chatto Publishers, and now on the verge of beginning my six-week crash course into the world of publishing at NYU, my emotions are a blend of overwhelming excitement and just a tinge of nerves.

I have wanted this so desperately, cried for this countless times, and been filled to my core with the conviction that this is the industry in which I truly belong. It seems surreal to think that I am this close to gateway to my dreams. As I journey through this program and wherever it may lead me afterward I will carry the words of Paulo Coelho with me that “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I will keep this as my mantra through the good times and the bad and always remember that “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

Here’s to the adventure of the unknown, to relentlessly chasing the dream, and to reaping the spoils of dedicated hard work.

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Difficult Lessons Couched in Creative Storylines

In a world filled with so many complex issues and dangers, writers seeking to inform children in a way that is non-threatening, engaging, and relatable have an extremely delicate task. At a recent PEN Panel called “Children’s Literature: Braving Our Endangered World,” held on May 4th, panelists discussed their tactics for presenting science and ecology-themed books to children in a way that would resonate with them.

The panelists’ books covered topics such as ethnic conflicts, endangered species, and trash dumping in our oceans. Each of the panelists have found a way to expand their expertise in science through the lens of literature. By creating human stories to surround scientific issues, they have been able to reach a new audience and convey significant messages about serious scientific issues.

Though these are weighty subjects to address in children’s books, they are vital to instill them with a sense of what is going on in the world around them. Children are naturally eager to learn and explore and tapping into their innate sense of discovery is an excellent way to impart important messages that will shape their worldview.

The key according to Padma Venkatraman, author of Island’s End, is “well-rounded passionate characters that leave readers with questions.” Too often the moral or social message of a children’s story can be too thinly veiled, which quickly loses a child’s attention as it then becomes more of a boring lesson and less of a captivating story. Fostering that wondrous sense of curiosity and inquisitiveness and getting children engaged with key topics surrounding environmental issues and cultural differences is the best way to enable them to become conscientious and well-rounded adults.

Check out the full article on Publishers Weekly.

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Gearing up for Gatsby?

With the upcoming release of Director Baz Luhrmann’s version of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, this 1920’s classic is receiving an influx of renewed attention from readers. According to Publishers Weekly, CoverCake, a company that tracks trending topics on major social media platforms, listed The Great Gatsby as #5 on their list of Top-10 Books in Social Media for April 2013.

I myself have been contemplating rummaging through my library to pluck out the classic for a long overdue re-read. Isn’t it wonderful what putting a book into a new medium can do to revitalize interest in the book itself?

It is a reader’s quirk of mine to refuse to watch a movie unless I have read the book first. I feel that there is nothing more detrimental to the creative and imaginative conversation that goes on between the characters of a novel and the reader than to watch the movie version first. I’m sure that many will disagree with me on this, but it is a deeply rooted belief of mine and one that I will stick to for Gatsby.

Though I have already read Fitzgerald’s classic depiction of the Roaring Twenties, I feel that I would be remiss not to open the spine once again and let those powerful words wash over me once more before going to see Luhrmann’s version.

What are your thoughts? To read or not to read?

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Chasing the Dream

It has long been my dream to be a part of an industry that shares the captivating words of talented writers with an audience of eager and impassioned readers. In this blog I will chronicle my quest to prove myself worthy of a spot in the book publishing industry. In one short month I will be leaving my Texas roots for New York City to attend NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute.

This I’m sure sounds like a million other stories of wide-eyed, naive young professionals striving to make it big in NYC. It is my sincere hope that I can amount to more than that stereotype and that I can come up with content witty and engaging enough to actually get people interested in my story.

Who will save our books? Copyright James Patterson-Publishers WeeklyThough the face of the industry is changing, something I read today sparked a great sense of hope in me. James Patterson’s bold ad in Publishers Weekly highlights the serious lack of action surrounding the decline of books with the question “Who will save our books?”. His message is both an ardent support of books and a catalyst prompting much needed attention and focus on this troubling issue.

This is what I want to fight for. I want the children today to grow up with the same fervent love for the written word that I had as a child. I want that love to be nurtured and fueled by the profound words of the authors they read. I want our society to be aware of the paramount importance that should be placed on revitalizing the love of books.

This is not an issue that we should sit back quietly on, shaking our heads and saying ‘What a shame.’ We need to fight. Fight for the beautiful and powerful words that dance through the minds of authors. Fight for the transformative influence those words will have on their readers. Fight for a resurgence of the book in a world that is dangerously teetering on the edge of losing its understanding of their great importance.

It is with this sense of drive, determination, and purpose that I will pursue my dream of a position in book publishing. I know that I have much to learn and I am excited for all the lessons that will come out of my experience at NYU. I will begin this journey with the steadfast conviction that I will join this industry as another voice that will speak loudly for books and will refuse to be quelled.

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