And I'm not saying it's a bad thing!
For starters: I got an eReader for Christmas. I've heard a lot of people say that it's going to make the print book go extinct. BUT–I've read more books in the last month than usual. The kids can't pull out my bookmark, I can bring it everywhere (it's so thin!) and...I can BUY books from anywhere. Really, I feel that eReaders are dangerous spending tools for people like me who love to read! Also, my eReader is color...(translate: great for picture books). Lastly, my eReader synchronizes with my computer. I can download client's manuscripts right onto it and read them while I'm donating blood, waiting in the car line to pick up my daughter from school, or while I'm cooking dinner. I can work anytime, anywhere–perfect for someone who is self-employed AND a full-time Mom!
Next: Children (well, at least my children) begin to use the computer before they even use the toilet. They know how to open the internet browser, type in or click a bookmark to their favorite sites, use the mouse, and have the computer read them stories whenever Mom is busy (or they don't want Mommy!). I'm convinced that sites like Starfall.com, MightyBook.com, Fisher-Price.com, and NickJr.com have taught my daughter to read, and my son to recognize letters, and both to have such a great vocabulary by 18 months. On average, I would say my daughter and son listen to at least 10 stories or story-songs on the computer each day! (I've probably got at least 30 memorized). Combined with Grandma's iPhone, Grandpa's iPhone, Great-Grandma's iPad, and our iPod, their world is filled with more stories than I ever had–and they're developing verbal skills earlier. I like it. That means my night time story really takes a back seat to their digital ones. While I won't give it up, I see now that authors and writers like me have a HUGE opportunity we didn't have in the past. If more stories are getting out there, we have more of a chance to get ours in front of kids, too. (Although I'm sure the pay scale might not be as favorable...)
Last: As I look at how quickly I've made so many accomplishments in the world of children's literature and publishing, I can't help but attribute some of my success to paperless publishing. My portfolio is digital–I send one email or file and secure a new job. Forget stamps and SASEs and waiting six months to hear back from a publisher who didn't even read my work. When a client hires me, often they're planning to release the book digitally anyway–meaning I get to see it sooner, and sometimes I even have a say in how it looks! I don't have to try and assemble "clippings," that will fade in a box in my closet (although I do have plenty of those...). Paperless publishing is cheaper, and therefore clients are actually buying MORE books and hiring MORE writers - so there's more opportunity out there for writers like me to grab.
Bottom line, my writer-friends: The revolution is coming. If you ignore it, instead of being a part–you'll never be able to shape our role and uphold our rights in all of it. Let's all welcome in the idea of digital books. Only as participants can we ensure that as printed books fade into the background, good writing–and good writers–do not!