My 15-year-old sister had never read more than a handful of books in her life. She was a serial adulterer, never being able to commit to that monogamist relationship that a good book deserves. Her love of teen literature began two summers ago when a family friend suggested the now global teen sensation, The Hunger Games. I have never in my life seen someone sit in the same position with the same expression of bewilderment as she did during those next few days. I was truly watching a literary romance blossom. A week later and she had finished the entire three part series.
As the months past and her thirst for vampires, angels and apocalyptic hotties grew, so did the stack of books beside her bed. There seemed only one solution for her ever so increasing first world problem – a kindle e-reader. This small piece of grey plastic took her new passion to soaring heights, as well as mum’s credit card bills! This new platform allowed for an easier and more accessible way of feeding her cravings. Books can now be downloaded instantaneously, from anywhere in the world and it seems, as The Institute for the Future of The Book’s mission statement notes, “The printed page is giving way to the networked screen.”
She began finishing books within 24 hours – that would have entailed way too many trips to the bookstore! However the more important consequence behind her new toy is that her increased engagement in literature lead her to pursue other aspects of the more modern book culture. She began to engage in literature on other platforms like YouTube and became involved in new publics such as active ‘fandoms.’ Not only did this expand her publics but also exposed her to new types of publishing and language. OTP (One True Pairing), Shipping (Matching characters together) and Feels (emotions) are just a few of the young adult fiction fandom slangs which I am increasingly noticing is a part of my sister’s vernacular. “Radio, cinema and television emerged in the last century and now, with the advent of computers, we are combining media to forge new forms of expression.” (The Institute for the Future of The Book) Something in which my sister is clearly participating.
Despite her love affair with the ease of the kindle, when questioned about whether she prefers the traditional printed platform over newer technological advancements, she responded, “I prefer reading books because it gives you the feeling that you’ve accomplished something…there’s a sense of euphoria when you complete a book which you can never have with an e-reader.” In my opinion this notion of truly experiencing a book, going on a ‘metaphysical journey’ with it, trumps any increased accessibility or ease in reading which may be gained through e-readers. Quite simply, and as Jonah Lehrer agrees, there is still no replacement for a good old worn out book.
“Perhaps we need to alter the fonts, or reduce the contrast, or invert the monochrome color scheme. Our eyes will need to struggle, and we’ll certainly read slower, but that’s the point: Only then will we process the text a little less unconsciously… We won’t just scan the words – we will contemplate their meaning. “(J, Lehrer 2010)
The bizarre world of fandoms! (Be ready for the tween jargon! It’s also disturbingly catchy…)
We’re My OTP – Troye Sivan (Internet Vlogger)
[online] Lehrer, Jonah (2010) ‘The Future of Reading’, Wired, September 8, http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/09/the-future-of-reading-2
[online] ‘Mission Statement’, Institute for the Future of the Book, http://www.futureofthebook.org/mission.html“> http://www.futureofthebook.org/mission.html