The sixth result from my Google Books search of “the daisy” leads me straight to a digital copy of my Pet Book. It was the first link I followed, and the only one on the first page that actually took me to what I was looking for: The Daisy, or Cautionary Stories in Verse. According to Google Books, they managed to find this result (and about 550,000 more) in 0.55 seconds. This was the first difference I noticed between the digital and physical versions of this books; it took about two minutes for me to find it online, but it took at least ten minutes to find the book in Special Collections. And that doesn’t count the time spent having to organize my schedule around going to the library and sitting with the book in Special Collections.
The digital copy is more easily accessible for those who have access to a personal computer or to something that can connect to WiFi. I can have a copy of the book whenever I want to read it. I can download it to my computer and read it even when I can’t connect to WiFi. With the physical copy that belongs to Special Collections, I can only access the book during their open office hours, and I can never leave Special Collections with it. Once I leave for the summer, and once I leave Colby, I won’t be able to hold the specific copy that I have been working with unless I come all the way back to Maine (which would be pretty unlikely fro me – coming back to Maine only for a book).
After looking through the digital facsimile of The Daisy, I found many similarities to the physical copy I have been working with. Much of what is printed on the pages of the digital facsimile appears almost exactly the same as it does in the physical copy. With that being said, there are differences in how the text looks when on the computer versus in its physical form. For starters, the text of the digital facsimile appears much larger. This is because, once the book was uploaded to its digital form, that allowed for the pages and the text to bemagnified.
(Top: Digital Facsimile; Bottom: Physical Copy)
Another key difference is that the digital version is of the thirtieth edition of The Daisy, but the physical version is the thirty-first edition. This difference can be seen when looking at the publishing/copyright pages (both still set next to an advertising page at the beginning of the book). Upon further research, I could not find much on what the differences are between these two editions of the book, which is typical for different editions of books. Newer editions are used to reproduce the older edition without making many changes. In this case, all of the stories, illustrations, advertisements, publishing/copyright, introduction, and table of contents in the 31st edition are all the same and located in the same order as the 30th edition.
Here is a comparison of the Advertisement and Copyright Pages for each version of The Daisy.
As you can see from the images, there is also a clear difference in how the pages are oriented as well. The physical copy of the book allows the reader flip though the book from left to right. The pages of the digital copy are meant to be read by scrolling down the webpage. Even though what is on the pages is the same, reading the stories from each source elicits different experiences. When holding the physical copy in special collections for the first time, I was taken over with the feeling of having to be as careful as possible with the book. I used hand sanitizer before touching it, and I held it with the spine supported by one hand and gently turned the pages with the other. Since the book was in Special Collections, I knew that I needed to do my best to make sure that I didn’t damage the book in any way while working with it. In comparison, when looking working with the digital copy, I never had the sense that I needed to be careful. If I closed the tab by accident, I could just Google it again or go back into my web history. This copy didn’t feel special to me at all. It was just something to read on the internet that I can access when I need it for class.
For its intended readers – children – I’m sure there was a different thought process used when reading and working with the book. When I read books as a kid, I always felt connected to what I was reading. I loved being able to flip though a book and to bring it anywhere with me. Even now, when buying books for personal reading, I never buy the online versions. The screen hurts my eyes after a while, the computer starts to die so I would always have to be near an outlet, and I get bored more easily. The physical copy allows me to read outside at a park or beach for hours, and it allows me to put it on a shelf to read again. I take notes in the book when I read sometimes, and if I were to only have electronic copies, I could lose my notes or possibly not be able to take any at all.
When looking at what is provided in each version of the book, the differences between each version, no matter how slight they may seem, influences how the audience receives and uses the book. First, the physical copy of the book had a small inscription in the beginning of the book that said “T. S. Perry/from Aunt Susan./Boston: Dec. 25, 1891.” This leads me to assume that the physical book in Special Collections was once given as a gift to a family member. This shows the audience/reader that this book is meant to be read by, and it shows that it might not be as easy to access since the person may not have had it already. It also shows that there were many owners of this one copy. That meaning is lost in the digital version for two reasons: 1) Without the inscription, there is no reason to assume that this book was ever given as a gift, so there is no understanding of its possible demand; 2) Since the book is online, virtually anyone with a computer or access to the internet can get this specific digital version and there there is no one true owner at any specific time. With most digital copies that can be found as PDFs or as free online copies, a book doesn’t feel like it belongs to me or to anybody else. It just lives on the internet. Ownership of a book, or of anything really, creates an emotional attachment. There is a feeling of This is mine and I can do whatever I want with it. I want to take care of what is mine. Owning something can make it feel even more special. With a digital PDF or free copy of a book, that specialness is taken away. There is no sense of This is mine because everyone can have the same thing with a simple Google search. A physical copy of a book, no matter how many copies exist in the world, can only belong to one person at a time. No one else can have the exact copy that I have.
Second, since the facsimile is online, there are additional supports that can be added to the book to make it easier to read without having to change the stories or any content in the book. As I explained above, the text appears to be larger in the digital version, and that is because we are able to zoom in and out of the pages if necessary.The way the book appears online has both advantages and disadvantages. Some advantages are that it is easier to read larger, brighter text. There isn’t any damage to the page, so there is no
need to worry about possibly not being able to read certain parts of the book. This is very advantageous because it allows a wider variety of readers to enjoy the book. If you need glasses or have poor vision, then being able to make the text larger can cause less of a strain on your eyes. For children, as I explained in my Additions Blog, reading larger text can often times feel less intimidating. Being able to zoom in on a page can make the text even easier and more appealing for children to read. With that being said, reading from a screen for long period of time can actually hurt your vision in the long run. Also, with anything on the internet, there is the risk of webpages freezing or pop-ups, which can be really distracting to any reader. The table of contents not only shows what page each story starts on, but it also links each story to the page, so if you want to read a story, instead of flipping to the page it starts on, you can press the title and be brought there automatically. This reinforces the claim I made about the physical book in my Additions Blog, that this book is meant to be read, but not in one sitting.
In regards to the audience, the digital facsimile does present a different intended audience. For both the physical and digital versions, the book says that it is meant for 4- to 8-year-olds on its Copyright page, making this the intended reader. With that being said, since the digital copy is online, the child reading will likely have to ask for permission to access the book, especially if the owner of the device has strict screen rules for children. With the physical version, a child/reader could just pick the book up off the shelf when they wanted to read it. The intended buyer/person acquiring the book does shift a little. For the digital copy, only those who have access to the internet can access this version. For those who cannot afford a computer or a device that connects to the internet, they will not be able to access this book on their own. This shift to accessing books online changes how children’s books are viewed (at least in my opinion) because it is causing an even greater divide in who can and cannot get books. With physical books, while there was a divide in who has access to purchasing books and who can go to a library, a greater population of children had access to books. Now, the divide is made even deeper because not only are there children who still struggle to get access to paper books, now these children are struggling even more to get access to online versions. The increase in reliance on technology for access to books is a very valuable tool, but only for those who can actually afford it. What about the children who can’t even afford a used paper book? What are they supposed to read at home?