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See Spot ROM

Author David Macaulay

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.

Originally posted Oct 21, 1994 Published in issue #245 Oct 21, 1994 Order article reprints