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Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 3, No. 4 - July/August 2011

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Impact of Technology on Book Buying

By Amanda Tocci

Do you miss the touch of a crisp new book, where the purchase was an experience of hours of meandering through cramped and overstocked aisles, stopping every now and then to tilt your head to the side in search of the perfect story?

You would then emerge from the often dusty shelves with a cramped neck and a brand new book just begging to be opened. You chat to the bookstore assistant about your new purchase who offers an ever promising, "I have read that twice and I loved it."

Arriving home you flick on the jug, it boils for what seems like eternity while you slip into your favourite PJs or trackie dacks readying yourself for a marathon event of escapism, relaxation and sensory stimulation.

You lovingly place your softest pillow on the sofa where an imprint of your bottom has been made from years of reading, you gather your plush blanket, delicately and precariously place your coffee in arms reach and there you are ready to undertake the awe inspiring reading marathon.

Kids interrupt, the phone rings, the washing machine finishes, there's a knock at the door and there you are, moulded into the sofa with your newly purchased piece of paradise, touching, caressing, fondling each page as you say to yourself just one more page...two minute noodles will be fine for dinner tonight right?

Or are you one of the growing number of new age book buyers who likes to sit on the sofa with a hardened cold laptop on their legs, typing in URL after URL address, cunningly looking for the best buy, the online company that saves you money on delivery and perhaps delivers a bonus credit towards your next impersonal experience.

As you find the book you want, you click your mouse which sends your book to an icon of a shopping basket and then asks if you would like to continue shopping? There are no personal exchanges of information with a bookstore assistant except for your credit card number and confirmation of your delivery address which is all automatically transmitted.

You then log off waiting 3-5 days, hoping, for your book to arrive. When your book arrives wrapped in a cold plastic satchel, the delivery driver throws it on your lawn.

Ripping open the satchel you find the much wanted online purchase creased through the cover and after flicking through the book you discover it really wasn't the one you wanted after all.

You then catch yourself saying "I should've gone to the bookstore." Rather than logging on again to find out how to return your purchase you learn that the process is so complicated and time consuming that you may as well throw it on to the pile with the other 10 unwanted online purchases and call it even.

Maybe I am just cynical about technology and what I see to be the lost art of actually reading 'real' books. Yes technology has its place in our society and most certainly in our classrooms however are we teaching our children to love the entire process of reading or are we teaching them to enjoy the technology and that reading is just a by-product, a leftover of that technology.

With Angus & Robertson and Borders having closed their retail stores technology may have triumphed. However is it really heralding the best message for your family?


Amanda Tocci is a Literacy Specialist and Managing Director of the Australian Literacy Clinic Pty Ltd. Amanda is currently undertaking her PhD in Psychology at Newcastle University, investigating the impact cognitive load has on working memory and their relationship to reading. The Australian Literacy Clinic Pty Ltd is a specialist centre located in Maitland and Newcastle, working with families and schools in assessment, planning and intervention of children with reading difficulties.

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More Information

Amanda Tocci
MAEdst, BA, GradDipEd, GradCertTESOL
Managing Director & Literacy Specialist
Australian Literacy Clinic Pty Ltd.
P: 1300 869 905


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