The Queen has now given her opinion over the popular e-book debate.
E-books have become popular in recent years for multiple reasons. From their quick and inexpensive book downloads to their light weight, the platform has proven to be increasingly accepted by all ages. Younger generations especially have taken to e-books since they are already familiar with electronic entertainment.
Traditional book lovers are not fans of e-books, however. They criticise e-books for being distracting, causing eye strain, needing to be charged, and simply for not having the same personal satisfaction as reading a paper book.
Queen Elizabeth II appears to have fallen in to the latter camp. She is not usually one to offer her opinion on hot-topic issues, so this is an unusual and appreciated occurrence.
On October 10th, the monarch presented an MBE for services to literature to Joanne Harris. Harris is the author of bestsellers such as Chocolat and Runemarks and has had her work published in over forty countries. The investiture ceremony was held at Buckingham Palace.
Harris shared a chat with The Queen, and later revealed the subject matter of the conversation. Her Majesty inquired into Harris’ views of electronic books and computer games and revealed her worries that newer generations prefer spending their spare time with electronics over books. The Queen worries they are not having the same classic experiences previous generations had with traditional books. She shares this sentiment with much of the public, despite the ever rising popularity of e-books. The National Literacy Trust researched the subject this year, finding that most children prefer reading on screen over reading from books. The study also found children who prefer e-books have weaker skills in literacy.
Joanne Harris however is confident in the future of literacy in an e-book world. During their conversation she offered her opinion to the Queen that children can be started on electronic books and games at first, but that traditional books could be encouraged as they age. Later, Harris shared with journalists “Books may change shape but people will always need stories, and the shape of those stories may alter. I think hard copy books are here to stay for a long time. The fact they’re branching out into other areas doesn’t feel threatening at all.”
As for her MBE, Harris offered “It’s wonderful to be recognised and it’s wonderful to see the world of literature be recognised every time this happens to one of us.”