As the first big wave of electronic kids’ books hits the stores, the question is, Will laptops replace laps as the place kids go for a well-told story or fascinating facts? For some answers, we turned to master explainer David Macaulay, whose best-selling The Way Things Work has just been issued on CD- ROM.
Q: What advantages do you think CD-ROMs have over traditional books?
A: Being able to animate what previously had to be static. A CD-ROM can also make the connections between bits of information — and ideas — more dynamic.
Q: Is there a trade-off for the author?
A: The question for me is whether an author will be able to hold on to his or her individual voice. Is it a storytelling medium or just an information retrieval system?
Q: Is there a trade-off for young readers?
A: You can’t take a CD-ROM to bed; they’re just not as cuddly as books.