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eBooks, online media and “flimsy paper”

I miss my newspaper.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a newspaper reader. I started small. The Garden City Telegram was an afternoon delivery and just couple of sections but it got me into a routine . . . comics, sports, opinion page.

Went off to college and had the best of both worlds – the Hillsboro Free Press, a weekly local paper with a focus on crop reports, small town events and high school basketball scores and the New York Times, delivered a day late to the college library.

Moves to Wichita and eventually back to Hillsboro hooked me into the Wichita Eagle-Beacon, later just the Eagle. Delivered everyday. To my driveway. In the morning. Comics, sports, opinion page.



The Wichita Eagle has decided that there are not enough subscribers in the county to justify home delivery. They cut me off a couple of weeks ago.

I’m past the denial stage and have moved into bargaining. I’ll probably end up getting the Hutchinson News. (It’s not bad but, seriously, the Hutch News? How creative, a newspaper called the News.) And I do have the online version of the Eagle, so . . .

My “friends” haven’t been a lot of help.

  • You could print out the website on flimsy paper with smudgy ink.
  • I dropped my morning statewide paper, because the entire thing is available in their iPad app. The cost is less too.
  • I stopped getting the paper years ago. I get all the news on my laptop/iPad.
  • You could join the rest of us in the 21st century.

Yeah. I get it. I have an iPad. Two, actually. There are 13 internet devices in my house, not including the Wii, Apple TV and Netflix-enabled Blueray player. I have a website called History Tech. Another called Social Studies Central. I’ve got a Twitter and a Plurk account. I’m on Facebook and use a password app to help me log in to all the different sites I visit. So I am well aware of this whole new world of the Interwebs. But I still need a newspaper.

If you can’t tell, I’m a little bitter.

I’ll probably get over it.

But the whole thing has gotten me thinking about why I like paper so much. And not just newspaper but magazines and books. Especially books. I love books more than I love newspapers.

What I like:

  • The smell of books. Especially old books. I walked into the Queen Anne Bookstore in Seattle several weeks ago and immediately fell in love. It smelled like books. And coffee.
  • I like the different feel and heft of books. A quality, hard copy is great by the fire. The paperbook version is perfect for the hammock.
  • It’s hard to lend someone an eBook. More importantly, it’s hard for someone else to loan me an ebook.
  • While it’s possible to know how far along you are in an eBook, a percentage usually of the remaining total, I like dog-earring a page and seeing what I got left.
  • No one ever comments on or starts a conversation about the eBook I’m reading at the coffee shop.

But I also started thinking about why I’m falling in love with digital media.

  • Small size. I can load up 100s of books, magazines and newspapers on my iPad / iPhone.
  • I like being able to create my own books and articles using the ePub format, PDFs and apps like Book Creator. The opportunity for educators to customize content and resources for their own classes is huge.
  • I love the fact that digital newspapers, magazines and books can be incredibly deep and multimedia rich. Video, audio, photos, additional information, supplementary materials and collaboration can all be built into digital stuff.
  • The problem with Queen Anne Books? Limited selection. I could easily spend a whole day in there but it’s still gonna be just a few thousand books. iBooks, Kindle, digital libraries have hundreds of thousands.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s both/and not either/or. I’m still ticked that the bean counters at the Wichita Eagle cut me off. But I do understand that eBooks and digital media have their own advantages. And as educators, we need to be willing to use both.



I have been reading the online / iPad version of the Wichita Eagle and getting used to it. But this morning, got this error message instead:

Yes, still a little bitter.

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