This Magazine Won’t Work! by Lilly Kiel

The 21st century has brought us a plethora of new technologies and ways of experiencing old and new literature. We are given so many options with how we view our texts, novels, poetry, and even periodicals like The New Yorker or Vanity Fair. We have come to a very rough spot in publishing history because not only are bigger publishing houses competing with smaller, independent publishing houses. They are competing with computers, tablets, and phones. An app can be downloaded in less than 10 seconds and we have access to hundreds of literary works.

I find the 21st century world of publishing peculiar when compared to the 19th century or even way back when the printing press was invented in 1440. Back then, books were such a commodity. They were treated with value, some may say respect, and were the center of knowledge. Any literate person could learn, feel, and experience new things through the pages of a book. Now, books are treated as a troublesome task. On top of people not wanting to read, people have trouble paying $22 for a hard-cover novel. Books are becoming obsolete. Why would I go down to Barns & Noble and get a book when I could download it for free?  We are in a pivotal point in literary and publishing history.

In an article by the Scientific American called The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens by Ferris Jabr, he talks about a video called A Magazine Is an iPad That Does Not Work. Just the title alone evokes a strong message. In this video, a father is recording his young daughter pressing, flicking, and poking at the cover of a magazine trying to swipe one it as one would use an iPad or other tablet. As children are being brought up in a society where technology is heavily used, books are a thing of the past. As this girl discovered, the magazine was broken. It wasn’t her that didn’t know how to use it, it was the magazine’s fault. In the century, we live in, books aren’t what we used them for years ago. They sit there on shelves as a decoration to make us look intelligent. Many people don’t know the strength, power, and knowledge those books hold. They’re too busy scrolling through Facebook.


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Scientific American article can be read here:




3 thoughts on “This Magazine Won’t Work! by Lilly Kiel

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  1. I liked your post, I think that the war between books and tablets is ongoing and important. It’s definitely an interesting battle to see, and you point out an interesting fact about that battle. New parents aren’t teaching new kids how to use the old format. In the spirit of journalistic integrity perhaps, you’ve kept any of your own opinion out of this post, but I’d be interested to hear what your thoughts are on this matter. For me, to hear of a girl unable to use a magazine because it doesn’t work like an ipad is at once both ridiculously funny, and terribly sad. I think that kids should be taught the respect for the physical copy and should learn the power contained in pages, rather than behind another screen. I would be interested to hear what you think.


  2. I believe that this is so true, books are becoming so expensive and to be able to by it cheaper online? I would so do it, but maybe its just me put this tech is also not in everyone’s hands. People who can’t afford this tech still go to libraries and still try and buy from second hand bookstores. its the accessness(not even a words haha) that we have to look at. its so common to see someone with tech that we can’t still that many still use the old ways.


  3. Lilly, your word for the changes in today’s publishing world, “peculiar,” feels kind of perfect. It’s a word without judgment (good or bad). Instead, it shows curiosity before enormous change.

    If you wanted to expand this post later, it might be interesting to do some basic research on parents approaches to technology use for their children. While many children certainly grow up using i-pads, there are also movements away from this. And I’ve been struck by the way my undergraduate students are often more aware of the need to turn off Facebook and *connect* in real life than, say, my own generation or my parents. Of course… these are anecdotal comments. I’d be curious to see what (if any) research is being done on this.


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