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This one is for the parents out there, and just by sheer statistics, that must be some of you. The latter period of 2009 saw EA release a range of books on the DS – Flips – aimed at encouraging those little chaps; you know the ones that are out of diapers and into school to use their DS for more than just just Pokemon, and get their head into a book.

As a parent myself, I can understand why people would stand behind a product aimed at encouraging more reading, but, one question that can’t help but crop up in the addled grey matter that science would call a brain: Why not just read a book?

Read on as I take a look at EA’s release, and see if it really can grow the DS audience, as they claim.

As those who immerse themselves in tech will know, eBook readers are a hot trend right now. From Amazon’s Kindle to Barnes and Noble’s Nook, they are spreading like wildfire and selling like hot cakes; they have the complete fire and cake combination. Whilst there can be dozens of reasons people want these products, there are two which seem the largest factor in my mind.

The first is that of space and convenience; dozens of books can take up a lot of space on shelves, and they don’t really lend themselves to being able to carry them all about. However, all books can be stored and carried about in something smaller than a laptop.

Secondly, the green reason. Deforestation is a concern to many people, and when you think about big sellers like Harry Potter – a franchise EA is likely looking to for future releases (as Flips comes from Bright Light, which is the studio responsible for the latest Harry Potter title, it is not too far fetched), that’s a whole lot less chainsaws that need to be revved.

EA have capitalised on both of these factors in their release, although obviously not to the extent of the popular eBook readers on the market already. The DS cartridges contain entire series of books, and the initial launch has seen a decent range of titles for young nippers of either gender, from Enid Blyton to Artemis Fowl.

Not every parent can be an encyclopedia, and unless I get asked questions about maths, Kevin Smith movies, or obscure trivia about early 1990s British pop groups, it is very possible my answer will be “ask your mother”. The Flip range offers information at the touch of the screen, so when you get asked “Where’s¬†Azerbaijan?” while you are reading a bedtime story, the answer is mere moments away.

It isn’t just factoids at your fingertips; you can click to get sound effects, pictures of characters, and some pages even offer little mini-games, or a quiz, just to make sure you’ve been paying attention.

I’m not sure how comfortable I am in ushering in a book-free digital age, but then again, I thought that mini disc players were a good idea, so it’s clear that spotting trends of the future are beyond me.

When it comes down to the final decision, I would say that the range of Flips are well made, fun to read with your child, and anything that gets kids into more books is a fantastic idea – regardless of whether the story comes in the form of paper, or 1s and 0s.

  1. Absolutely agreed — we need to bring the learning to the children where they are most likely to absorb it, not vice versa.

  2. I have a 4 year old niece and I bought her a DS for her 4th birthday. This is an excellent idea and I’m happy to see it! It will be warmly welcomed by her parents, especially since I’m sure her dad is very tired of answering questions about dogs and ponies while he’s trying to play MW2.

  3. Cool idea… but I’m a bit surprised that they don’t have an option to download new books from the DSi store. That thing has been begging for an app like this, and if EA doesn’t take it down that route, I think they’d be missing out on something that could get pretty big.

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