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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Books, Ebooks, Apps — Good, Bad, Indifferent, Change

I’ve known Rick Richter as a children’s book publisher for what feels like decades, but now he has created Ruckus Media, a company that creates apps for kids. And he is interviewed here: I am going to be teaching a class on ebooks, apps and what they mean for youth service librarians this fall at Rutgers, and Rick will be Skyping in to speak with the class. What he says here in the short Big Think interview fits what I am hearing everywhere: in our world, the field of materials for readers 0-18, the regular old print book is alive. We are not in the same place as adult, where ebooks are zooming and print books are doing so poorly that Borders is gone and B&N seeking buyers. But it is a moment of great opportunity — things are changing, new kinds of reading experiences are being created, new ways of reaching young people, and there is a lot of room to experiment.

To some extent the mood of the moment depends on your appetite for uncertainty. If like Rick, or Stephen Roxburgh at his Namelos company or Barbara Marcus at Open Road Media (see it is not all guys) you like jumping in to a field-in-formation, this is a terrific time. Day by day I hear not only of new apps but new tools that make it easier for a person to create apps, even if s/he is not a programming star. New formats — such as the Amazon Single: — create a space for writing that is longer than a magazine article and shorter than a book — more or less the length of middle grade nonfiction, or something like the old American Heritage or Horizon magazine pieces.

The big question is how all of this newness fits, or will fit, or can fit with schools and libraries. Will we be adding new kinds of materials to print? Replacing print? Will libraries buy the platforms as well as the ebooks and apps, or do they buy for platforms that only a few of their patrons have? Are we in a renewed Digital Divide moment, and, if so, is the right for a library to use its iimited resources for its wealthiest patrons? But if the reading world is exploding, how can a library afford not to be in the game? We’ll be talking about all of this in class, and thus, of course, also here. How do you see the digital reading world? How do you see it intersecting with young people? What choices are you making? Which experiments have you tried?


  1. HS student research papers in history make valuable nonfiction for other high school students (and middle school students) to read, and they provide examples of good academic expository writing as well. See The Concord Review at (since 1987 the only academic journal in the world for the research papers of secondary students, now with 956 papers from 44 states and 38 other countries…

  2. Marc Aronson says:

    I am a fan of the Concord Review, blogged about it here some time ago.