The Kids Won’t Let Me Burn My Books

October 22, 2010 by Thad McIlroy

Daddy: Please don’t burn the books. Then there won’t be any books in the house and I kind of like them.

Some folks dined recently with Ross Dawson. Dawson apparently wrote his future-of-publishing-themed blog entry while dining. Here’s a snippet:

A critical issue is the physical space that books take. Some have tried to get rid of all the book (sic) in their house, but find that their children then don’t have books around them and are looking for them. Others recognize that their extensive home libraries are a ‘wank’ in that their primary function is to impress visitors.

Copyright 1971 by James Broom-Lynne

Copyright 1971 by James Broom-Lynne

Hmm. While Anthony Powell famously wrote that “Books Do Furnish a Room,” my books have a more functional role. I read them.

Computer Furniture

Attractive Computer Furniture

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  • http://www.thefutureofpublishing.com Thad McIlroy

    I did write “it’s the folks that Ross Dawson met recently,” so was not stating that this is Ross’s opinion. He writes in the same entry: “I am rapidly shifting to buying e-books though I expect I will still buy some physical books. We’ll see.” I’d conclude from that that he has decided that e-books are more useful to him than physical books, but not in all cases.

    Your Salon link is to an important article by Laura Miller: “Book Owners have Smarter Kids.” It references two recent studies on the value of physical books for children.

    And that’s my only point.

    I’ve written elsewhere how valuable I find ebooks, and that I do indeed buy them myself. But I’m happy to have both, as I’m certain most children are. Why would any parent want to impede a child’s access to words and images in every form possible?

    Thanks for your comment.

  • Bridget

    I understood your general astonishment at the ideas that Ross Dawson states in that quote, however when I went to his blog and saw that he was simply sharing what amounts to his notes from a conversation, and made no claims that he agreed or disagreed with any of the statements. In fact, I believe that his first one is very valid (http://www.salon.com/books/laura_miller/2010/06/02/summer_book_giveaway) and that his second is probably true for many people. Not everyone loves books the same way and that does not make them a failure, they just have different interests.