I wrote a long post about how I finally saw how it would be worth keeping paper books around the house so when my kids are older they can pick them up at their leisure*. But before I posted it, I realized that I don’t need to sacrifice my dream of a mostly digital library in this goal. By the time my oldest child is ready to read non-picture books on her own, basic eBook readers should be quite affordable. (And, since not everyone knows how to remove DRM from eBooks and I prefer not to enter grey areas of copyright law when I can help it, I also look forward to the hopefully near day when eBooks drop DRM altogether like MP3’s have.)
Turning on their own (affordable and replaceable) Kindle 4 (or Target brand generic eReader), my kids will be able to browse our digital family library like they would browse a wall of bookshelves, even when they’re off at college or otherwise moved out of the house. And I won’t have to worry about a growing collection taking up space in my small, non-permanent** home.
Yes, there’s always the library as well (and my kids aren’t strangers to it even in their current sub-3-year-old stages). But the library often doesn’t have the book one might be looking for. When I choose to buy an eBook as opposed to ordering it from Amazon, it’s nice to know that in addition to taking up no space and therefore being ultra-portable, soon it should be easy to loan or give that eBook to someone else.
This final paragraph was left over from my first, very different, draft of this post. I’m not sure how to work in in here, but I really like it, so I’ll just tack it on without further ado. Both of my daughters (ages 3 and 1) LOVE books. They love being read to, and love sitting next to a stack of books and thumbing through the pages of each, making op their own stories (or babblings in the case of the 1-year-old). And I hope they never stop.
*Not that we don’t have lots of physical books right now. We do have five bookshelves, two of which are heavily used and three that are slowly losing trinket space as our number of household books increases. My wife’s collection of books consumes one bookshelf and spills out across part of another, and I cram a few mass-market paperbacks and some trades I’ve been meaning to get rid of to the sides of a shelf or two (my college textbooks stuffed away, molding in a box in the basement), while the rest of our bookHORDE contains books for the kids (which is good, since toddlers and preschoolers should have physical pages to turn and bright covers to look at).
**We are mortals and build houses that don’t last many generations. If I were a lord that lived in a castle, or a vampire, I would enjoy building a vast library wing to pass on to my descendants and protect important works of literature from natural disasters and destructive, weaker minds. Right now, a room full of books would be a pain to move and a burden for my children to deal with when I die.