Will Children Save Printed Books?

E-books are targeted towards working adults, and kids tend to shy away from trends that are popular with their parents


kindle-entry.jpg
Will the new generation of digital natives finally see print off? That's the consensus of many e-book enthusiasts and elegiac traditionalists alike. And it's plausible. But there's another conceivable model, just raised by the Canadian writer David Bidini in the National Post:

[O]ne of the reasons e-books won't destroy the book world is because almost anyone I know who owns a Kindle or similar digital device is over 40, and because they're over 40, the same kids who begat Napster and file-sharing of rock 'n' roll will run as far from the phenomenon as possible. When Grandma's seen reading her space age digi-book, junior will do the opposite. In fact, kids may save books, instead of destroying them. I hope it happens. I know my kids read books, and they read them lots.
While all kinds of statistics on the so-called Millennials can be cited on the other side, the scenario isn't so far-fetched. Who in the 1950s would have thought that organic farming would ever return? Or that bicycles and electric cars would be trendy again? Or in the heyday of 1970s men's fashion and hair styles, who would have imagined that the Mad Men look, symbol of an overturned, repressive culture, would be sending so many wide neckties to Goodwill?

Not that generational pro-book rebellion is inevitable. Nothing is. But most of the professional futurists I've met are really in the business of alternative scenarios. This is one that's definitely possible. And that should help encourage friends of print not to let inevitability talk get them down.

Thanks to Dan Bloom for the link.

Image: Flickr/Remi Mathis.
Presented by

Edward Tenner is a historian of technology and culture, and an affiliate of the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School. He was a founding advisor of Smithsonian's Lemelson Center.

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it. They are repulsed by it."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it."

Video

What's Your Favorite Slang Word?

From "swag" to "on fleek," tweens choose.

Video

Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.

Video

How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Technology

From This Author

Just In