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To rent or to download -- that is the question

While the growth of book rental schemes has been welcomed by parents and teachers, some representatives of both demand much quicker change. Why not do away entirely with paper books, they argue, and replace them with a single e-book for each pupil? Updated texts could be downloaded direct from the Department of Education every year, cutting out the middle-man.

Parent Martina Murphy is all for it, saying: "I would advocate it on the grounds of cost; of unburdening kids of heavy schoolbags; on the grounds of making it easier to research facts and of saving paper.

"Kids have much less inhibitions about using computers than their parents. It probably is the way of the future."

Principal Ray King is less sure. He reflects: "It would take the publishing companies out of the loop, and as a good socialist I've no problem with that. But I'm old fashioned, in the sense that I think children love to hold a real book and get value from that.

"Pupils love being in our school library where they can touch books. I'm even a sucker for those 3-D pop-up books which are so popular.

"At the moment, I don't know of any e-book that can replicate that feeling of interacting with a real book. Yes, give the kids the IT skills, but don't throw out the baby with the bathwater."

Irish Independent