Thoughts on ePicture Books

I’ve had a Kindle Fire for almost 2 years now, and I like it way more than I thought I would. As you may have noticed, I am a BIG reader and I was originally interested, because I thought it would be to use while feeding/holding a baby than a print book (and it was). I continue to like it because I find it super it very easy to check out library books on, easier to read books with on public transportation, and convenient for travel (I can bring a dozen books with me in a device the size of one not-too-large hardcover). Oh, and I can look up words! I’ve found that I miss that ability now when I read non-fiction in print. I still love books in print, but I’ve found that the Kindle fits the bill for a lot of my reading needs.

BUT I have always thought eReaders only work for certain types of books – really just chapter books, books that are primarily text. (Even non-fiction with illustrations doesn’t work well, the illustrations aren’t as clear, and an eReader is generally smaller than a print book.) I have particularly avoided them for picture books. Picture books are glorious. They come in a millions different shapes and sizes. They are colorful, the illustrations are so vivid and exciting. eReaders are one (small) size). They make illustrations look flat or muddy. And what young kid needs to spend more time staring at a screen? Give me (and them) print!

Still, I was recently browsing my public library’s new additions on Overdrive and I saw that they had a picture book that we own at home – Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle. It’s a cute, wordless book. The illustrations are great – and most interesting of all to me – it has flaps! I was very curious to see how an eBook would handle this interactive feature, so I checked it out.

The book still has “flaps”, or rather there is a section of the illustration that you can tap on, and it will change to the illustration that is under the flab in the print book. This is pretty neat, but I realized as I read the book, that this ability was pretty limited. In the the print book, there are often flaps on both pages (one showing a move that the Flamingo was making, one showing a move that Flora was making). When I read the print book, I would open the flap on the left side of the page, leave it open, and then open the flap on the right side of the page. In this way it would appear that the flamingo was made a particular move, and then Flora moved to match. In the eBook, you can’t do that. When you click the second “flap”, the first “flap” closes. This changes the meaning of the book slightly. In this “reading” the flamingo has gone back to the original pose, and doesn’t notice that Flora is trying to imitate him. When I realized this, I thought, had I been “reading” the print book wrong? But the answer is no – in the print book, both readings are correct. In the eBook, there is only one “correct” reading. Even though it is interactive, the eBook is limiting its readers.

This just confirmed my anti-ePicture Book feelings – in addition to the limitations in size and brilliance of the illustrations, the ePicture Book is trying to dictate how to read the book. I realize that eBooks for adults do this too (you can’t flip through an eBook, like you can a print book), but they also offer added features (search, dictionary, etc), that I feel like balance this out for me. Anyway, it was interesting to check out, but I think I am going to stick with print for Picture Books.

Thoughts on ePicture Books

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