>In the most recent Booklist, Michael Cart wonders why “curriculum-related nonfiction” hasn’t “migrated more or less completely to the Internet by now.” Me, too: hardcover series books about countries of the world, mammals of Asia, rocks and minerals of the fifty states, etc. still proliferate like crazy, even though the information they contain is available all over the digital place. And with list prices averaging over twenty dollars per volume, they aren’t cheap. And, for the many series entries that devote themselves to “current events,” the information is often out of date before the book is published.
Why do schools and libraries keep buying them? Is it because book-based assignments are more manageable, or because a book feels more authoritative than the Internet? Lack of imagination? Fear? Laziness? To me, it feels like it all comes down to control, a favored emotion found in grownups dealing with the young. Series books promote the idea that they have things covered, you don’t need to look anywhere else, that the things that are essential about, say, Nebraska, are the same things essential to Delaware. India, like Denmark, is “a land of contrasts.” Everything you need to know is here, in a collection of books that look and sound the same on purpose. It’s all under control.
Luckily, kids don’t read this way!