It turns out my three-year-old nephew would rather play a Batman game on an iPhone than go bowling and dance to a blur of Bob the Builder remixes at a kids disco. I know, madness.
He's also a massive fan of playing Peppa Pig on my mum's iPad mini (he adorably felt-tipped dinosaur footprints all over it too) and has a Leap Pad - a froggy kids tablet - which has the incredible power to cheer him up after tripping on a towel and splitting his chin open. It's like magic or something.
Even more bizarre is that my other, slightly smaller, slightly less toothy nephew has a contraption you slot an iPhone into so he can play with it, slobber on it and give it a good chew without damaging. He's 9-months-old!
I don't have anything against Peppa Pig, and I'm pretty much in love with Batman, but this is mental right? I'm not going to launch mind-numbingly into a "kid's today" tirade, but seriously, they are more tablet friendly than I am, and I work in digital.
It's terrifying really, until I remember that one of the only things (discounting Kinder eggs) that can distract my eldest nephew from nap time, TV and play dough, is a story. A really good one made from pages and pictures with an amazing cover and a sturdy spine. One of those beautiful, physical, easily chewed hunks of printed paper that you can drop in the bath, weight down your bag with and stack on a shelf. Yep, a book.
He might be an insanely dexterous screen-geek, but he still loves his story books, which, coming from an industry bent on hurtling into an online-first world, kinda gives me a bit of hope. If the next generation happily skips from print to the ether and back, can't we carry on doing so too? Or must we limply fall into the backlit arms of Kindle, forsaking all other bedside reading?
No dammit. I refuse to be minimal - I will have it all. Just as long as publishers don't fold into coded oblivion before they realise, as Josh Catone explains so wonderfully, that the printed book will never ever truly die.Suggest a correction