Yesterday I had the privilege and the pleasure to “play” my multimedia eBook, Princess Marisol & the Moon Thieves, published by Community Publishing, for a couple of classes of 2nd and 3rd graders at a wonderful public school in Albuquerque, NM. The students swayed back and forth to the sounds of the narrative. They also seemed genuinely impressed with the illustrations (Audrey McNamara) and were immersed in the story. After the presentation, we gave the students a chance to ask questions and many asked interesting questions such as; how many people did it take to produce the multimedia eBook (15 and counting!), was my daughter Marisol the voice of Princess Marisol and was I the voice of Metzli the Moon (yes and yes), how long did it take to write/produce (1 year to write 2 years to produce). One question that really caught my attention was, “Is there a ‘real’ book, Princess Marisol & the Moon Thieves?” I replied by clarifying the student’s question, “by real book I assume you mean a printed version?” I went on to tell the student that while we would be printing a limited number of copies, eBooks and in this case multimedia eBooks are the present and his future. The LA public schools system has jumped out ahead and has purchased for their students a bucket load of iPads for their use. It is important to note that the LA Public School system is comprised of many low-income children who do not have access to new technology and therefore I applaud their efforts to give them access to these learning tools! The Digital Public Library of America is another organization that has moved ahead and embarked on an ambitious program of digitizing collections to create “an open, distributed network of comprehensive online resources that would draw on the nation’s living heritage from libraries, universities, archives, and museums in order to educate, inform, and empower everyone in current and future generations.”
The educational literature has consistently shown that people learn best when all of their senses are engaged and what better way to achieve that than with multimedia eBooks that bring sounds and sights to your reading experience. Also of importance is the cost-savings that are reaped when comparing the costs of traditional libraries and digital libraries. San Antonio has opened the doors of the country’s first all digital Public Library. In comparison plans to open a traditional library in Austin are running into the 120 million range! Digital libraries will save money because they need less space and require less in terms of adjusting interior space for physical books (which are heavier than tablets, etc).
Of course what resonated most with the student questioner was when I informed him that digital publishing is great because printed books rely on paper which comes from trees, and no one wants to kill anymore trees!