Digital Preservation: Safeguarding the Future of Literature in the Digital Age

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” – Leo Tolstoy 

If we are all at war with time, digitally published literary works are on the same battlefield. In the constantly developing sphere of digital literature, the need for effective preservation tactics has become paramount. While the transition to digital forms have revolutionized the ways in which we access and read literary works it does not come without some distressing challenges. 

File Format Migration: Navigating the Challenges

One of the chief challenges met by e-book publishing platforms is the risk of outdated file formats becoming obsolete over time. As technology advances (time and time again), file formats evolve, potentially rendering older formats incompatible with modern devices and software. One real-world example of this occurring is the transition from the physical media, floppy disks, to CDs and DVDs. Content that may be stored on older media also becomes inaccessible as new devices phase out support for those older media’s formats. Likewise, e-books transitioned from “.lit” which was introduced to the Digital Publishing Sphere by Microsoft Reader to more widely adopted formats like “.epub” and “.mobi”.


To address this challenge, forward-thinking e-book platforms adopt a proactive file format migration strategy. A classic approach involves sporadically updating the digital library to align with the most recent updates and standards. This ongoing effort not only ensures the accessibility of literary works across various platforms but also prevents the loss of content due to format obsolescence.

There have been several platforms to embrace this approach. It would be in the best interest of any e-book author to acknowledge the importance of staying ahead of the curve in the fast-paced digital landscape. A reasonable plan would include assessing digital library’s file formats, identifying files at risk of obsolescence, and implementing conversions to current standards when necessary. 

Libraries and Institutions: Guardians of Digital Literary Heritage

Libraries like Library of Congress and Internet Archive alongside an organization called Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) are among those platforms that part in the essential role of preserving digital literature. 

The Library of Congress actively contributes to digital preservation initiatives by including archiving websites, electronic journals, and e-books. The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library that aims to provide “Universal Access to All Knowledge.” It has been archiving the web, digital books, and other digital content for decades, making it a valuable resource for preserving digital literature.

DPC is an international organization that brings together various institutions and agencies with a shared interest in preserving digital content. It provides resources, guidance, and collaborative opportunities for digital preservation efforts.

Harvard Library’s Format Migration Initiative:

Harvard Library who boasts a 20-year history of preservation stands as a prominent case of an institution dynamically betrothed in confronting the challenges of file format migration. Their Format Migration Initiative aims to ensure the long-term accessibility of digital content within their collections. By proactively and effectively managing format transitions, Harvard Library enhances the sustainability of their digital assets which in turn benefits not only the researchers who take time to collect the data for reports etc., but also the scholars and the wider public.

Putting it All Together:

By understanding and addressing challenges such as file format migration, the digital publishing community, libraries, and institutions can collectively contribute to safeguarding our literary heritage for future generations. Adopting proactive strategies ensures that the timeless words of authors past and present continue to resound in the digital realm for years to come. The lack of standardized preservation practices for digital archiving poses challenges. Without a proactive approach, the risk of information loss increases.

Digital Magazines For Kids

Educating a child can be a difficult task in this new era of technology. Generation Alpha is noted to have created kids that are “iPad Natives” and keeping their attention off of anything else can be challenging at best. Digital magazines aimed toward child entertainment and education are an interactive meeting point between technology, learning, and digital publication. Despite this, many find the excessive use of “screentime” unhealthy for their developing brains. With all of this taken into consideration, what do digital magazines directed toward kids have to offer, and what is the impact?

To answer this question, one needs to understand what these magazines do and create for the consumer.

Similar to its paper counterpart, this digital media discusses topics specific to an edition and includes related articles and images. However, digital magazines add all the benefits of the internet. EasyTechJunkie explained that these online magazines  “add animations and links within the magazine to make it more informative or aesthetically better.” Magazines being online add several avenues of information that cannot be ignored. If a reader wants more extensive information, the reader can click reference links or watch attached videos. Everything cited and additional information is provided with a touch of a button.

This digital media has a lot to offer, but how does this relate to kids?

Over the last few years with COVID-19 and lockdown, parents began searching for different learning opportunities for their children; in that, they found digital magazines. With platforms like KidsWorldFun, parents are exposed to several options of topics to choose from. They range from educational subjects like science and math to other general fun topics like stories and social happenings. Children can also access adult-marketed magazines in a kid-friendly format on subjects they can digest. This includes magazines like Times, National Geographic, and Sports Illustrated.

This creates the value of entertainment and engagement for a kid while also teaching them about subjects that are important. A science digital magazine could have a game where children have to take care of a plant to show photosynthesis or a literature magazine that has the kids change the story with verbs and nouns. Kids could also learn about varied interests like art and music.

Within these kid-marketed magazines, children have access to fun videos, animations, games, and animated scavenger hunts. This digital media allows for an interactive learning experience that scratches a child’s need for entertainment and technology in this new era. The National Center for Education Statistics explains that 97% of all kids between the ages of three and eighteen have home internet available to them. This being noted, these magazines would not normally be difficult to download for a parent. Their child would have a fun and informative tool to use and play with. It being digital just makes it more available when a parent or child wants it.

It is fun and easy to access, but what about the known benefits?

Rocking Rockets has an entire article dedicated to the benefits found in classrooms when digital magazines are being utilized. Teachers notice their children’s excitement but also see a difference in their literacy development. The students are given access to these magazines that teach poetry, nonfiction, and additional crafts and experiments. Teachers have seen a growth in their students’ willingness and excitement to learn. This digital media creates a fun atmosphere to absorb new information that feeds off this “iPad Native” generation instead of fighting against it.

Aside from Rocking Rockets, Exact Editions claims that “Technology continues to evolve at a rapid rate and education must evolve with it by developing new learning strategies and embracing new resources.” Essentially, digital magazines serve to improve child education and development by moving with the world and the inventions and innovations of the internet. Children benefit from this media because it is colorful, expressive, and interesting. The possibilities are endless when it comes to topics and learning material. Children benefit from reading and magazines are a step in the right direction.

Is screen time the enemy?

There have been many studies based on children and the amount of screen time that is acceptable. The findings range from positive and negative. Generally, children who are exposed to screens during the crucial developmental years are found to struggle with sleep, obesity, and language delays. At times these kids miss the building of social skills. Emotional cues and facial expressions are most commonly missed in this period when screen time isn’t regulated or left unchecked.

Along with the negatives, there still remain a few positives. It allows for better reinforcement of a lesson through videos, and it also gives home-schooled children more material to use and build off of. Other studies have shown an increase in creativity and healthy habits when exposed to the right material. Many believe, including SafeSearchKids, that it is less about how much they watch and more about the content they are consuming. Clear boundaries and monitoring can help detour several of the negative impacts.

How much does it cost?

Digital magazines are accessible and particularly low in cost. Medium claims that on average a consumer would spend $10 to $20 a month. There are several streaming services that cost more than it would be to provide a child with a digital, interactive, and educational magazine. Many try one or two before dedicating to a single magazine for their kids. Several digital magazines offer free trials to assist in helping a child or parent make a dedicated decision.

A parent can find this media on websites and apps like KidsWorldFun, Highlights Every Day, National Geographic Kids, Times for Kids, and so many more.

What do digital magazines directed toward kids have to offer, and what is the impact?

Through the resources cited and provided, many will be divided on the answer to this question. It is best to make decisions regarding your child based on your parenting style and your kid’s general interests. Digital media, whether it be magazines for kids, articles, or videos, chosen with care and research can never be a wrong answer.

Kids will continue to learn, grow, and flourish through the growing digital presence. Digital magazines for kids are only the beginning of possibilities to come through online media.

Emotional Responses to e-Books Versus Paper

Image of Edward Olsen

Which medium is preferable for leisure reading, e-book or paper? An article by Alison Flood in The Guardian (Links to an external site.) mentions a study conducted to try and answer that question. A lead researcher, Anne Mangen, said that they gave 50 participants a story to read. Half received paper copies and the other half received e-book copies. The study found that “the paper readers have a higher empathy, transportation and immersion along with narrative coherence than those with e-book copies of the same story.” 

Mangen also pointed to a study in which 72 tenth grade students were given a similar test: some had the physical text and some had a PDF. Mangen found that the print readers scored significantly higher on comprehension tests given during the study. 

Abigail Sellen of Microsoft Research Cambridge states (Links to an external site.) that “the implicit feel of where you are in a book turns out to be more important than we realize.” When we read a printed book, we sense the pages turning as the story unfolds before our eyes and in our imaginations. The reader can sense the story coming to an end as the pages lessen to the right and accumulate to the left. He gets a sense of progression and accomplishment. Could this sense be due to a form of sensory output supporting achievement through visual progression? 

I decided to do my own research involving a study of 30 readers. 15 were males and 15 were females. The females ranged in ages from 16-76, and the males were ages 19-72. The occupations of the study group varied on both data sets from retired educators and construction workers to professional actors and stunt performers. Both data sets have relatively similar educational backgrounds. Each participant agreed to read two books: Clive Cussler’s Valhalla Rising and Sahara. I chose these two books because they had action, suspense, drama, and romance with a relatively easy plot to follow and both were almost equivalent in length and content. All participants answered 11 comprehension questions about each story to ensure that they read the books in their entirety. 

Of the 30 participants, 63% preferred paper to e-books. The 63% that preferred paper stated that they felt more in control and that the e-book format was not as easy to connect with. As Abigail Sellen would have predicted, the participants wanted the feel of paper in their hands and the feeling of accomplishment from turning pages. In other words, to them, the overall serendipity and sense of control is better with the paper book. 

The 37% of the study group that preferred e-book stated that they preferred the ease and accessibility. Having a portable device to read in spare time was important due to an often-hectic schedule. This group also stated that lugging around another book along with their electronic device seemed unnecessary. Their responses were more mechanical in nature compared to the emotional responses from those that preferred paper books. 

Screens and e-readers interfere with intuitive management of written text and inhibit the mental mapping of the journey in the reader’s mind. In digital text, a reader can quickly skim over words, paragraphs, entire chapters, and even jump directly to a particular phrase. With paper books, the reader tends to feel as if they have cheated in some way for skimming over materials. 

Even though 37% voted for the e-book format, 65% of that same group admitted that the paper book was harder to put down. The times for reading within the two groups varied as well. The 63% who preferred paper enjoyed reading during leisure time and just before bed, while 15% of this group read at work. 76% of the e-book readers did their reading at work and 24% of them read during leisure time. The paper book readers were 87% more likely to put the stories’ events in chronological order as opposed to 72% of the e-book readers. While the paper book readers seemed to have more empathy for the main character, e-book readers were still on par with them having around 88% who understood his plight in both novels. 

With my own research and that done by both Anne Mangen’s group and Abigail Sellen, I believe that the cognitive site of our brain tends to be more emotionally connected to a story read on paper. While I am sure that producers of e-readers are striving every day to make their product as close to the real thing as they can, paper text still has more emotional impact. The research shows that most people want the paper book’s sense of accomplishment and old-fashioned feel of turning pages.