From the mouths of babes – a big, bright ray of hope for long form content


iPad book

Fairy tales on iPad


I don’t fear for the future of good writing in the digital age.

While I’m not overly-fond of the term, “long form content“, I never have subscribed to the notion that “short form content”, such as Twitter will kill blogs, any more than I believe blogs will supplant journalism.

It was only a few years ago we were hearing how phone texting – especially the abbreviated text language favoured by teenagers – was a sure sign the country was dumbing down.

Before that, the creeping, brian-mushing threats to our literacy included TV, radio, the telephone, the telegraph and presumably the carrier pigeon.

This particular blog subject has been in my head for months.

It was a seed first germinated after a spate of birthday parties where my daughter’s seven and eight-year-old friends exchanged the usual £10 gifts – and I noticed a reassuringly high number of books making the grade.

Nor were they the well-intentioned – though unwanted – gifts chosen by mums. These were books the kids genuinely pored over and read to each other.

As a new owner of an iPad, I can say with confidence the device is already proving a superb way to make it easier to enjoy and browse more blogs, articles and the stuff I like to hoover up. So I was keen to see what junior would make of it.

The young ‘un has always enjoyed books. But she’s just as happy perched in front of the TV and is generally at her happiest when engaged online with the likes of the excellent CBBC website.

So I figured the iPad would immediately appeal to her primary school attraction for web content.

But lo-and-behold, I gave her the device for the morning and after a long, long period of silence I noticed she had gone straight to the Apple bookshelves app and opened a book of Grimms’ fairy tales.

Watching for a while she soon flitted from the upright/portrait view and preferred to read in the landscape view, which serves up two facing pages at a time.

When I asked her why, the response was immediate: “It’s much better this way, daddy, because it looks just like a real book.”

I could have wept. In much fewer than 140 characters she gave me a simple, short-form response that should have any lover of quality writing rejoicing.

Amazon’s Kindle has already proven that book publishers – reluctantly or otherwise – has a digital only future. My eight-year-old’s bookwormish reaction to the iPad brought that home to me.

With the likes of the Wired iPad app making waves across the magazine sector and with other apps seeming to offer financial succour to the beleaguered newspaper sector, we can all hope long form isn’t just surviving, but thriving.


One thought on “From the mouths of babes – a big, bright ray of hope for long form content

  1. My wee girl – she’s three – is the same. I’d disagree that the Kindle means the future is digital-only, though. It’s the MP3 to the hardback’s double vinyl collector’s edition. I’m off to see Chris Brookmyre and Mark Billingham tonight. They won’t be signing ebooks 🙂

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