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The Next New Thing: Books on Paper

by on September 5, 2013

My daughter turned nine in July. She has grown quickly, too quickly at times. Because she is a digital native, I am not only amazed at how quickly she has grown physically, but also how quickly she has adapted to ever evolving technologies. One of the most interesting phenomena I have witnessed in her, and with children visiting the library, is an intense interest in the next new thing – books on paper.

I suspect my daughter, Chloe, would be interested in books even if she had not been a digital native. However, because she spends much of her day (either at school or home) with a mobile device, using apps, interacting with others through Pinterest, and other similar digital products, print books stand out to her as a unique way to learn and imagine. Print books stand out from the crowd of digital products with their lights, dings, pings, charging, and advertisements. The tactile and aesthetic quality of print books captivate her attention and provide her with a truly unique experience.

Libraries have, for many years, learned to be adaptive and to capitalize on strategic marketing. Because many of us have witnessed an increasing interest in print books from patrons as we added new technologies, I suspect there is potential positive marketing opportunities in marketing print books in a new way. For example, patrons who are accustomed to the touch and swipe hand motions used with apps on Apple products, may be attracted to turning of a print page with a real 3D experience. Perhaps the smell of a book might even make it a type of 4D experience. Wow, what an experience, as if it were real (I hyperbolize).

As we reach out to patrons, I suggest using this type of strategy in library outreach. Whereas in the past few decades we taught patrons about technology through mobile labs, perhaps we can now bring stacks of books to schools, daycares, and similar institutions to market print books. Instead of trying to find a way to get information to patrons with as few clicks as possible (less they lose interest), perhaps we should sell them on a product that requires no clicks to view. Whereas we once feared uninformed critics that proclaimed the demise of print books, now we have an opportunity to increase reading and comprehension to, what appears will be, several generations of patrons through the philosophy that sees print books for what they are: the next new thing.