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|Title: ||Books with pictures and conversations? A study of electronic books for children and their readers|
|Authors: ||Maynard, Sally|
|Issue Date: ||2001|
|Publisher: ||© S.E. Maynard|
|Abstract: ||For the past 500 years, the printed page has served as the basic and major means of storing and
presenting information and has become an everyday tool which most of us take for granted. Despite the
obvious usefulness and universal nature of the printed book, however, the development of electronic
technologies has led to the evolution of the concept of the electronic book. This represents a significant
new medium, which offers added value to the printed book through its potential for including other
media in addition to text on its pages. The thesis takes the electronic book as its main theme, putting
particular emphasis on its relevance to children.
The thesis includes a discussion of whether electronic books can encourage children to read both more
electronic and printed books, which establishes that television, film and audio versions of texts do
encourage the reading of printed editions (and vice versa). The conclusion is reached that electronic
books may have the potential to exhibit the same effect, depending how similar they are to television,
film and audio. The nature of classic texts and their currently decreasing popularity are considered, in
addition to whether the electronic medium can and should encourage children to read more classics. An
increasing awareness of the classics derived from media other than print is identified, leading to children
having misconceptions about the texts. It is concluded that electronic books might have the power to
bridge the gap between print and other media, introducing children to the classics in a form which is
closer to the original text.
An attempt was made to identify the elements which make an author popular in order that these could
be incorporated into electronic books to make them more desired as reading material. Emphasising the
views of children themselves, rather than critics, parents and other adults, a study investigated the
popularity with young readers of the writer Roald Dahl. Participants found some qualities and
characteristics in common between works by Dahl, thereby rendering them different from other books.
Identifying what children like about a certain author would enable the inclusion of the desired elements
into electronic books, thus encouraging children to read such books.
Leading on from the potential increase in children reading electronic texts, the proposition is
investigated that the medium on which a book is presented affects the reader's comprehension of, and
satisfaction with the book. In order to investigate the effect of the electronic medium on comprehension,
reading ability and speed, a study of user interaction with electronic books was carried out comparing
children reading an electronic book incorporating the book metaphor with children reading the same
text in two different printed versions. No evidence was found to suggest that the added effects and visual
dimension offered by the electronic book reduced participants' comprehension of the text. Indeed,
there was an indication that electronic books of this kind might actually aid the reader's comprehension
of a text.
If children are to read electronic books, where will they get them from? The embracing of the
technology of electronic books is likely to have an effect on the principal book suppliers. The
thesis therefore reports two questionnaire studies. The first investigates the opinions of children's
librarians on the subject of electronic books, and the second concentrates on booksellers. Notable
conclusions were that there is a positive attitude towards including electronic books as part of the
children's library service, and a high proportion of libraries offer access to them, the majority
through main libraries. Smaller book shops had not entered the field of selling electronic books in
great numbers, and that there was general uncertainty about the place of such texts in such outlets.
Respondents to both surveys believed that electronic books are durable, and can exist alongside the
printed items within their concerns.
Lastly, parents and schools have a role in making electronic books available to children. Due to the
lack of research on the attitudes of parents and representatives of schools concerning electronic
books, the thesis includes a discussion of existing surveys and studies of computer equipment in
homes, schools and public libraries in order to gauge the involvement of parents and schools. This
research shows that the picture of access to computer equipment for children is fairly inconsistent
across the three sources under consideration.
A general discussion follows, and overall conclusions are drawn, including that: the suggestion that
electronic books can encourage children to read represents an area that is lacking in research and
which would merit further work; the relationship between the printed book and its electronic
counterpart is a symbiotic one; and the portability of electronic books is currently not of major
significance, although this is likely to change with the increasing prominence of dedicated e-book
|Description: ||A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.|
|Appears in Collections:||PhD Theses (Information Science)|
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